Whisky On The NC500
It feels like just yesterday that we had our opening party in glorious sunshine. With memories of lovely weather still fresh in the mind, you can imagine our anguish when a planned hillwalking weekend was curtailed by poor weather. Autumn can have some excellent weather but not that weekend! What then to do on the NC500 when the weather sucks? Is there Whisky on the NC500, I hear you cry!?!
Indeed there is! Whisky on the north coast 500 route is only found on the eastern section, from John o’ Groats down towards Inverness. To reach the east coast from NC500Pods requires a stunning coast-to-coast drive, passing through the town of Lairg.
Most whisky distilleries provide guided tours of their site, as they walk you through the whisky making process. Tours include samples of the various whiskies produced, so its best not to volunteer to be the designated driver that day!
In our last blog we started the NC500 whisky tour from John o’ Groats. We pick up the trail heading south on the A9 towards Brora.
Clynelish distillery is located in Brora, which is about an hour south of Wick. Whisky has been distilled on this site since the early 1800s.
The distillery has several large stills, meaning that it can produce a lot of Whisky. The majority of the production is used for mixing with blended whiskies such as Jonny Walker. However, Clynelish has its own range of single malts
Clynelish 14 year old single malt
Game of Thrones fans may also be interested to know that Clynelish produce a special edition ‘House Tyrell’ Whisky. In fact all the major houses from the show have their own Scottish Whisky as you can see form the picture below.
GoT Whisky On The north coast 500
The visitor centre runs regular tours most days (not Sundays). Book your tour here.
Continuing out tour of Whisky On The north coast 500, takes us south on the A9 towards Tain. Two distilleries are very close to Tain. The first we’ll discuss is Balblair.
This distillery is full of character, much like the Whisky. They produce several ages and ranges of Whisky from one large wash still and one large spirit still.
The whisky is matured in barrels stored in warehouses unchanged for generations. This process is said to play a part in creating the unique flavours. It certainly adds to the distillery’s charm.
The distillery was founded in the late 1700s. It was forced to close in the economic downturn in 1911, but re-opened after the second world war.
The distillery has a visitor centre and runs tours – book here
Clach Briorach standing stone
Another little bonus for tourists visiting the distillery is Clach Briorach standing stone. This can be seen in the field just before the distillery gates and is believed to be pre-historic & features pictish carvings.
Just north of Tain is a very famous whisky brand. Glenmorangie has been producing whisky in sight of the dornoch firth, since the 1840s.
Today the distillery produce several single malts in large volume.
Glenmorangie Visitor Centre Sign
The stills used in the distillery are abnormally tall. In fact they are the tallest in Scotland, which is said to be why the single malts have such a light flavour.
Glenmorangie Distillery Back Door
The symbol found on every bottle of Glenmorangie is derived from a Pictish stone carving. The stone was discovered nearby and is believed to be from the 8th century. The slightly more recent distillery car is almost as impressive…
Tours of the distillery can be booked here.