Our cruise on European Waterways' Spirit of Scotland hotel barge unfolded along the meandering Caledonian Canal, taking us through breathtaking landscapes and quaint towns. Our first stop was the renowned Dalwhinnie distillery, nestled amidst the majestic Cairngorm Mountains. Perched at an elevation of 1,164 feet above sea level, this distillery holds the prestigious title of being the highest in all of Scotland. As our private guide led us through the distillery, we marveled at the intricate production process behind their exclusive bottlings and sampled six of their exquisite single malts. The flavors danced on my palate, leaving a lasting impression of the craftsmanship and passion that go into each bottle.
Our whisky odyssey continued the next day to the Tomatin distillery, a mere 25 minutes south of Inverness. Here, we delved into the history and artistry behind their exceptional whiskies. The air was filled with the inviting aroma of aging casks, and our tasting class revealed the nuances of their unique expressions. It was a testament to the rich heritage of whisky-making in this region.
Glen Ord distillery, situated on the captivating Black Isle, was our next stop. Founded by Thomas Mackenzie in 1838, this distillery holds a special place in the hearts of whisky connoisseurs. As we explored the premises, we discovered that Glen Ord boasts on-site maltings, a rarity in Scotland. The proximity to the barley fields ensures the highest quality ingredients, resulting in whiskies of exceptional character and flavor.
All the cabins are ensuite. They're small but very comfortable and even luxurious, with a smart layout that keeps them from feeling claustrophobic. The showers are a little tight but after a while you get used to them. The rooms are super clean, with a hostess who cleans them every day while you are away on excursions. By the time you come back, the beds have been made up, with the linens refreshed, and the room smells clean and inviting. Most guests don't spend much time in the cabins anyway, since there is a surprising number of activities for guests, when not out on excursions - from bike riding on the trails with the provided bikes onboard, to watching the spectacular Highland scenery go by from the upper deck, to simply enjoying fun conversations with guests in the many welcoming areas throughout the boat.