Man Up: Whisky School In Scotland

Give your taste buds the ultimate experience and enroll in Scotland’s whisky schools
Give your taste buds the ultimate experience and enroll in Scotland’s whisky schools

We took you to Thailand to work up a sweat and then hit the shores of Costa Rica to ride gnarly waves, now we want to give your body a rest and focus on giving your taste buds an experience you don’t want to miss. We’re enrolling you into the best adult education institution of your life – whisky school in Scotland! This country is rich with culture, breathtaking landscapes, friendly people and, best of all, home to the world’s finest whisky.

What makes Scotch whisky different, more flavorful and desirable than others? Scotch whiskies are typically distilled twice but can also go through the distillation process up to 20 times. There are several criteria whisky has to meet before it can be labeled as “Scotch;” most recognizable is if it’s been distilled in Scotland and has been aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years. After spending time at one of the country’s notable whisky schools you’ll have a better understanding and appreciation of its national drink.

Getting there: Scotland has four international airports; Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Glasgow Pestrick. Air Canada flies directly to Edinburgh and Glasgow, but if your destination is in and around Inverness, Aberdeen or other locations look to European carriers, such as British Airways or KLM, and catch a connecting flight.

Staying there: enrolling yourself into whisky school can be a multi-day affair, many will offer all-inclusive packages which will take care of accommodations, meals, classes and tastings, and some tours of the surrounding cities/towns. You’ll be guaranteed to get a warm, friendly and authentic Scottish experience.

What to pack: steel toe boots or sturdy footwear, such as hiking shoes, a warm sweater, waterproof jacket, ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and foldable water bottle like these ones from Vapur; the latter items will help with the after effects of when you sip one too many glasses of Scotch. Most importantly don’t forget your camera!

Be prepared for: when you go to whisky school you’ll be drinking, but you’ll also be participating in the day-to-day operations of the distillery. Your level of involvement will vary depending on the school and it can get physical, which is why we recommend you pack steel toe boots/hiking shoes. However, if you’re unsure connect with the organizers.

Whiskey making schools to consider: Scotch whiskies can be divided into five main regions Highland, Lowland, Islay, Speyside and Campbeltown, each producing distinct qualities and flavours due to their location and climate. Here are several schools to consider:

  • The Glenlivet Guardians Whisky School (Ballindalloch) – located in the Speyside region, an area known for its fruity and delicate malts, The Glenlivet traces its history back to 1824 and has won multiple awards such as Scotch Whisky Masters and International Wine and Spirits. The Glenlivet Guardians Whisky School has been running for seven years and is held two to three times per year (the next session is October 6th and 7th, 2014). Enrolling in this school includes accommodations, meals, tours of the distillery and Speyside Cooperage, tastings, certificate upon completion of the course and more. Cost: £700 per person (approx. $1,293.26 CAD). To register phone +44(0)1340 -821-720.
  • McLean Whisky Tours – McLean Whisky Tours offers three to five day whisky experiences 12 months out of the year ranging from leisurely tours to intense, hands-on whisky making. Husband and wife team of Paul McLean and Liz Gillespie have been in operation since 1995 and offer an authentic and charming Scottish experiences to their guests. Travel as a group or take a self-guided tour, your package includes transportation to and from the airport/distillery, accommodations, some meals and local tours. Cost: £1995-£3200 per person (approx. $3,691-$5,921 CAD). For more details and to register contact Paul McLean at info@mcleanscotland.com or phone +44 (0)1738-560-435.
  • Springbank Whisky School (Campbeltown) – founded in 1828, Springbank Whisky is the oldest independent family owned distillery in Scotland. Springback Whisky School offers five day courses (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) in May and part of June where you’ll learn in class about single malt whisky making and work in the distillery. Your package includes all classes, four packed lunches and B&B accommodations with evening meal. Cost: £1050 per person (approx. $1,939 CAD). To register phone +44 (0) 1586-552-009 or e-mail whiskyschool@springbankwhisky.com.
  • Spirit of Speyside Whisky School (Speyside) – immerse yourself in the ways of the Scots by enrolling in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky School. The school opens in conjunction with Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which is held annually during the first long weekend in May. For three days, you’ll learn about all the facets of whisky making, from malting to brewing and maturation, as well as hear from respected members of the whisky distilling industry and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. For more details, pricing and to register send a message or phone +44(0) 7789-671-635.

Kimberly Lyn

Kimberly Lyn is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her worked has appeared on StyleList Canada, 29 Secrets and GlobalNews.ca. She is also founder of the highly successful fashion blog The Souls of My Shoes, where she provides insights and thoughts on this world with a concentration on footwear. Find her at www.thesoulsofmyshoes.com and on Twitter @kimberly_lyn.

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