Whisky On The NC500 – Distilleries Near Inverness
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 continued out NC500 whisky tour from Brora to Tain. We pick up the trail heading south again on the A9, towards a couple of distilleries near Inverness.
Surprisingly, there are not many distilleries near Inverness. Dalmore distillery can be found out 20 miles north of Inverness next to the town of Alness.
Dalmore Crest Stone Carving
Dalmore’s stag emblem is everywhere you look here. The legend behind this dates back to the mid 1200’s. It is said that the King Of Scotland, Alexander III, was saved from a charging stag by the chief of the MacKenzie clan. The King then granted the clan the use of the 12-pointed ‘royal’ stag as a reward.
The distillery in Alness was founded in the 1800s and was later taken over by Mackenzie’s who implemented the use of the royal stag emblem. It now features on every bottle of Dalmore.
Dalmore Barrel Art
In the 1920s, the distillery suffered a large explosion and fire. The Distillery is situated right on the banks of the Cromarty Firth and it appears that the Navy were practicing there a little too well!
Damlore produces a lot of whisky from 4 wash & 4 spirit stills. Their range has expanded in recent times from 12 year olds to 25 and up. Sherry and bourbon casks are used in the ageing process to create whiskies of different flavours.
The visitor centre at Dalmore run regular tours but should be booked in advance here.
Another distillery near Inverness is Glen Ord, which is just off the NC500 route. This is large scale distillery, producing great volume for blended whisky makers like Johnnie Walker and is also home to the famous Singleton single malt whisky.
Barrels used in the ageing process
The Mackenzie clan had a hand in this distillery as well. Their lands in this area were ideal for growing barley, so a distillery naturally followed.
Today Glen Ord single malt whisky is also produced in various ages and finishes.
For more info on distillery tours click here