Step into the delicious world of Scotch whisky with a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland. One of the best things to do in Edinburgh, the Scotch Whisky Experience invites you to take a journey through the history and creation of the spirit by climbing aboard a barrel ride and listening to tales told by the ghost of Douglas McIntyre about how to make Scotch Whisky.
What is it like taking a tour with the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh?
Much more than a standard whisky tasting, the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh is like being on an episode of the Magic School Bus. Instead of a school bus accompanied by Ms. Frizzle, your mode of transport is a barrel of whisky!
If you haven’t seen the Magic School Bus, the TV show follows a science class as they go on unusual field trips. Shrinking down and experiencing the whisky distilling process firsthand would have fit into the show perfectly. I mean, if it wasn’t a kids’ show!
During the Scotch Whisky Experience, the barrel ride was totally unexpected and definitely my favourite part of the tour. It’s not just a boring walk — you become the Scotch Whisky!
As you move along the ride, you’re taken through the various stages of whisky production while the ghost of Douglas McIntyre follows and tells you about each phase of the creation process. You’ll get to see how the colours and stages of whisky change over the years in wooden casks and learn why time is the best way to make quality whisky.
Learning about Scotch Whisky around Scotland
After experiencing life as whisky in a barrel, you’ll learn about the aromas in whiskies found all around Scotland. Scotch Whisky is Scotland’s national drink and there are distilleries all over the country. The whisky in each part of Scotland offers a unique taste and aroma.
As you spend time with a knowledgeable guide, you’ll learn about the complex fragrances, tastes, colours, body, nose, palette and finish of whiskies produced from the Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside and Islay regions of Scotland.
You’ll be welcomed to touch and smell the barley throughout the different steps of the distillery process and you’ll receive a scratch and sniff card to help you become an expert at differentiating between the types of whisky.
Most of the casks in Scotland were previously used to mature bourbon (American whiskey). Over time, this seasons the cask, giving it a sweet or wood-like flavour.
During the Scotch Whiskey Experience, you get to select the flavour you’d like to try. Here’s a breakdown to help you choose a whisky which will suit your palate:
- Lowland – Citrus elements and recommended for people new to Scotch whisky
- Highland – Vanilla and floral notes
- Speyside – Tropical banana and pear notes also recommended for beginners
- Islay – Strong smoky taste and smell
Taste-testing inside the world’s largest collection of Scotch Whisky
If you take the silver tour, you’ll go to the tasting room which also houses the world’s largest private collection of Scotch Whisky! Surrounded by almost 3500 bottles, you’ll get a sample of the whisky you picked. You’ll learn how to properly view, swirl, sniff and finally taste the whisky. If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, a whisky tasting is very similar.
The whisky sample was just too strong for me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I let my friend drink my sample while I relished that I got a really cool whisky glass out of the experience! The entire tour was a lot of fun, educational and I absolutely loved shrinking down and taking a barrel ride tour.
The tasting room was incredible. Walking around while surrounded by the collection of scotch whisky was a unique experience all on its own. There were so many different flavours, ages and styles of whisky – many of which are contained in unusually shaped bottles.
Is it whisky or whiskey?
You might have seen this Edinburgh attraction written as “The Scotch Whiskey Experience” instead of “The Scotch Whisky Experience”. There is a difference between the two, other than just the spelling.
To be considered Scotch Whisky, alcohol needs to be produced and matured in Scotland for a minimum of three years. Whiskey is generally from other parts of the world, such as Ireland and the USA. Whiskey is produced and manufactured differently than Scotch Whisky.
Should you take a tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh if you don’t drink?
I’m not a big drinker and I loved the Scotch Whisky Experience. Although the Edinburgh attraction seems fancy and sophisticated, it’s actually a ton of fun even for those who are more interested in the experience rather than the Scotch Whisky tasting.
Buy your own Scotch Whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh
Once the tour is over, you’ll exit into a bar where you can try other types of whisky. Many of the whiskies on display are kept in really unusual bottles, like a chessboard, or a grandfather clock, or Scottie dogs. They do have regular bottles of Scotch Whisky for sale, so you can take home a taste of Scotland with you.
Which tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh should you go on?
The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh has several different tours you can take. As I’m not much of a whisky drinker, I took the silver tour which included all the above.
If you want to taste more types of whisky or have a more intimate experience which includes masterclasses, private tours and Scottish foods, be sure to check out the Scotch Whisky Experience website and pick the tour that best suits your needs.
If you want to book the silver tour I went on, book here and skip the lines: Book here for the Guided Tour and Whisky Tasting
More Things to do in Edinburgh
- Excellent Things to do in Edinburgh
- Things to do in Dean Village in Edinburgh
- Climbing the Scott Monument in Edinburgh
- Things to do in Edinburgh: St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile