Why not venture onto the Malt Whisky Trail with a visit to the Glenfarclas distillery. You’ll find it 5 miles south of Aberlour, on the left as you drive south on the Grantown-on-Spey road. It’s about 0.5 miles from the main road.
An easy drive from Elgin.
I did. I’m now re-stocked in the malt whisky department.
Donna gave 6 of us (4 Finns, a Bavarian and a local in exile) a friendly and informative tour - for free as they were not in production that day.
A few key facts...
Glenfarclas is one of the few family owned businesses in a world dominated by the multinationals...
The current family boss lives on site...
It is open for tours all year (Monday - Friday) - many close their visitor centres in the winter...
They may not be producing in the summer - that is repair, maintenance and upgrade season...
It was the favourite malt of my uncles Jimmy and Willie (my dad’s allegiances lay downstream a little)... the uncles often had a barrel in Willie’s cellar for decanting and diluting at their leisure...
They have an excellent gift shop to hoover up your £s, €s, $s (or whatever) after the tour...
Be sure to wind down the car window as you drive through Rothes and Aberlour on the way - who knows what wonderful whisky distilling smells you’ll pick up!
Burghead is a fishing village on the Moray Firth coast, about 5-6 miles NW of Elgin.
It has 2 main attractions.
First, a 7 mile sandy beach backed by pine forests. You can walk all the way to Findhorn, the next settlement, past the RAF base at Kinloss. Never busy, alway peaceful and relaxing (unless a Nimrod flies over).
Next, its history. It is the oldest known settlement on the Firth, shown on Roman maps dated AD86 and believed to be the alata castra (winged camp) described by Ptolemy of Alexandria in AD160.
It also has the remains of the largest iron age fort in Great Britain.
A 3rd claim to fame (maybe more tenuous than the others) is that the north pier and granary were built by renowned engineer Thomas Telford - the pier between 1807 - 1812 and the granary in 1808. The granary walls are 4 feet thick. It was built to store grain in transit for the British Army fighting the Napoleonic War.
The village itself is not what you would call beautiful. It has character, if not beauty, and is dominated by a malting plant (malting grain for the local whisky trade).
Hopeman is one of a number of seaside villages within a few miles of Elgin. It is 6 miles north. Cycling or running distance, if you're that way inclined.
You also have Spynie Palace and Duffus Castle nearby, so if you've had enough dry history, hit the beach and chill out.
My pictures were taken at dusk in early March, but I can assure you it is transformed by a bit of sunshine, blue sky and warmth.
In the year 1868 George Baxter borrowed £100 from his relatives which enabled hime to open a small grocery store in Fochabers. Still owned by the same family, a small food producing factory was opened here in 1914. Today Baxter's is a hugely successful company with Audrey Baxter now in charge. The Highland Village and Visitor Centre attracts lots of tourist with its scenic white shops arranged around little streets. As well as shopping you can have a meal here in The Gordon Room or have a snack in the Cafeteria which we did. It is a nice place to wander and admire the pretty details. Open all year seven days from 9.00 to 17.00 visits are free but the shopping is too tempting to miss. Interestingly Baxters has three other shops strategically place for tourist money they are in Aberdeen Airport - Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh and Blackford in Perthshire - the last one surprised me but hey Blackford is very close to the famous Gleneagles. One last thought if you want to visit in relative peace go late afternoon and avoid the many bus tours which stop here mostly till mid day.
The old fishing harbour in Lossiemouth is now home to the Lossiemouth Cruising Club and a marina . The expensive yachts are moored in two basins at a cost of £15.00 per night. While we were visiting in October only one basin had yachts on view but in Summer months both are full. Although the fishing industry has declined in this part of the coast you can still see some colourful little fishing boats bringing in their catch of seafood to supply the local restaurants and hotels.
Lossiemouth as the name suggests is named after the river Lossie which runs into the Moray Firth near Elgin. The town is known affectionaly as just Lossie, saw its beginnings as a port to help the town of Elgin in its trading links via the sea. A long time has elapsed since Lossiemouth and Elgin had a railway link but there is still a connection with the old railway - the sleepers and old railway carriages have been used to provide wooden barriers to protect the dunes and indeed the town from the heavy winter seas which roll in from the Moray Firth.
The Wild Life Park at Drumsmittal North Kessock on the Black Isle in Ross-shire is a fun place to take children to see some Scottish wildlife and a lot more exotic species. Where else but a zoo would you find zebras and Alpaca? The children can buy some food for feeding some of the animals from the little shop. The goats have got so used to the kids with their paper bags of food - one jumped the fence and chased after Shannan to get the lion's share. There is also an education centre in the park where the children can handle snakes and baby chicks. If you are lucky you could see baby quails hatching - the birds are breed and sold on a commercial basis. If the kids get bored by the animals they can romp around in the adventure play park while you have a cuppa in the tea room overlooking the play park. A good time spent here with much laughter.
Open March to November 10.00 - 18.00 7 days admission Adult £3.00 children £1.50 the food for the animals costs 80 pence for a small bag.
The Black Isle Brewery is located five minutes by car from Inverness. The tour of the little brewery is free, it takes you through the whole brewing process in an interesting way from the grains of malted barely they use to make organic beer through to the bottling process. Your tour ends with some free beer tasting in the little shop. Here they stock and sell their award winning organic beers with tempting names such as Red Kite, Yellow hammer and blonde. I loved their slogan "Save the Planet - Drink Organic" If you like beer then this would be a place for you or if you can't visit personally - orders can be placed through their web site.
Open 10.00 - 18.00 all year Monday to Saturday. Sundays April - September 11.30 - 17.00
Glen Moray Distillery is situated approximatley 35 miles east of Inverness on the western outskirts of Elgin just off the A96.
Very Interesting tour and insight about the history of Whiskey and how its made.