Scotland is famous throughout the world for its whisky and the distilleries that put the magic in those glass bottles. Aberdeen has some of the best distilleries in Scotland right on its doorstep producing the finest single malts, and you can visit Aberdeen distilleries and gain a rare insight into the artistry that goes into creating Scotland’s best whiskies.
Recently it has been discovered that it could have been in Aberdeenshire that whisky distilling first took place! Researchers from the University of Aberdeen have found a 1505 record for a still for making ‘aquavite’, which in Latin means ‘water of life’ and is the Middle Scots word for whisky, in the city’s records. The first reference to whisky was a little before that in 1494 when king James IV ordered malt to be sent to make ‘aqua vite’ to drink, rather than waste all that delicious malt on gunpowder! A great decision I think we all agree.
So where are the best distilleries near Aberdeen? Read our handy wee guide below of the best distilleries near Aberdeen and take the work out of the whisky trail!
The Ardmore distillery sits 600 feet above sea level, at the highest point of the Northern railway line. Built in 1898, the distillery’s proximity to the railway line allowed founder Adam Teacher to transport materials north from Glasgow which helped the distillery flourish into the brand it is today.
Ardmore is the only Highland distillery that fully peats its standard malt, giving it a combination of flavours reminiscent of the distilleries of Islay.
How to get to Ardmore Distillery
- An hour’s car journey north-west of Aberdeen A96 and B9002 will get you to the distillery, or if you’re coming from Inverness. Just travel east on the A96 and you’ll get there in under 2 hours.
Fettercairn Distillery was founded in 1824 by Alexander Ramsay who converted a corn mill into a hardworking distillery. Alexander later sold his estate and the distillery to John Gladstone in 1829 whose son William went on to become Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Coincidentally, there later followed several reforms concerning whisky taxation.
The pure spirit crafted by the unique stills at Fettercairn is distilled forged using a unique irrigator ring that surrounds the stills which saturates the still to deliver only the purest spirit. I know that sounds technical, but just know that this technique produces some of the best whisky in Scotland.
How to get to Fettercairn Distillery
- Just 35 miles south of Aberdeen and nestled under the Grampian foothills, you can reach Fettercairn Distillery by car via the A92 and A90. The distillery is normally open for visits between April and October.
Glen Garioch Distillery
This malt whisky distillery was founded in 1797 and is one of the oldest operating still in Scotland. It stands on the edge of a town called Oldmeldrum in a tract of richly fertile land, famous for producing the finest barley in all of Scotland. The distillery went from strength to strength up until 1968 when a water shortage forced it to close for 4 years. Thankfully in 1972, a new spring and water source was found, and production could resume.
How to get to Glen Garioch Distillery
- Glen Garioch lies just 20 miles from Aberdeen along the B999 and A947 just outside the town o0f Oldmeldrum. It offers year-round tours but as usual, it is better to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
The Glenglassaugh Distillery is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery 2 miles outside the small town of Portsoy. It was built in 1875 near the clean and pure water supply of Glassaugh Spring. The site was perfect with easy access to the nearby barley fields and it been the site of one of an illicit still previously.
Production ceased at the site in 1986 after a change of owners and a poor economic climate for running such a remote distillery. Production was restarted in 2008 and has since then, the distillery has gone from strength to strength. While many distilleries have become highly automated, Glenglassaugh has remained true to its roots and produced a spirit that is still handcrafted by a small, highly skilled team.
How to get to Glenglassaugh Distillery
- 50 miles up the A947 from Aberdeen. Glennglassaugh Distillery enjoys gorgeous sea views and has tours by appointment only.
GlenDronach distillery is almost 200 years old, established in 1826 and only the second ever distillery to apply for a license to legally produce whisky, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. The distillery draws its water from a burn on its grounds and has its own floor maltings and two wash stills in addition to two-spirit stills.
How to get to GlenDronach Distillery
. GlenDronach Distillery lies about 35 miles north of Aberdeen via that trusty A96. Open all year round, the distillery has a visitor centre, gift shop and a range of fantastic guided tours around its facilities.
Book a Whisky Distillery Tour
The best way to visit Aberdeenshire is with a guide to give you the lowdown on the best places to go and the history of the area. These local experts know the history, and they certainly aren’t a stranger to Scotland’s national drink!
So, why not book a whisky distillery tour from Aberdeen through IT Tours where professional drivers will transport you in style and safety to your favoured distilleries and destinations. To book a Highland distillery tour, visit the IT Tours website or give them a call on +(44) 01463233333 to discuss your options. They specialise in tours across Scotland and can help organise your holiday in Scotland.