If you’ve followed us for a while, you will know that our
amazing wee team – as well as being superstars in all things whisky, Scotland,
hospitality and everything in between – also write some fantastic blog pieces
for us! This New Year’s Day, as everyone recovers from the revels of Hogmanay,
we’ve rounded up some of the most-read blog pieces from 2018.
Grab a dram and settle in for some inspirational reading…
Senior Visitor Assistant Harry wrote us an incredible three-part series on exploring Scotland’s distilleries by train, and it seems like a lot of you have been doing some planning for 2019 and beyond! Whether you’re taking the train from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness, there are many Scotch whisky distilleries that are within walking distance of train stations around the country. Read the blog posts below for the full lists, plus information on the whisky tour you’ll receive when you get there.
Ardbeg distillery is one of nine to visit on the whisky isle of Islay (credit and copyright Éoin Ó Murchú)
The western isle of Islay is something of a paradise for any whisky lover, home to nine distilleries and counting. When team member Éoin took a three-day trip there last year, his write-up on what to do and see on Islay quickly became a reader favourite. Have a read, and book your ferry – you won’t be disappointed!
Women in whisky
The women of the Scotch Whisky Experience team on International Women’s Day 2018
Back in March, we celebrated International Women’s Day by taking a look at the women working to make this incredible industry such a brilliant, empowering and exciting field to be in. Read Senior Visitor Assistant Louise’s round up of women in the whisky industry here.
The Beast from the East swept across Scotland back in the spring, and while it left its fair share of disruption for visitors and residents alike (we stayed open in spite of everything!), it certainly made for some beautiful photos! After publishing our own post on snowy scenes from across Edinburgh, we asked the distilleries we work with across all five whisky regions to send us their snowy distillery photos, and we received some great responses! Have a look at the photos here.
Baking with whisky
Highland coo cupcakes – recipe and method in the blog post! (credit and copyright: Cara Fraser)
Did you know that whisky isn’t just for drinking? The incredible variety of flavours you’ll find in Scotch make it a versatile ingredient in everything from savoury sauces to cakes, bakes and other treats! Our piece on baking with whisky was one of our most popular blog posts this year, with team member Cara giving some inspirational recipes to get you started in the wonderful world of culinary whisky wizardry! Have a read here.
Which have been your favourite blog pieces? What subjects
would you like us to cover in 2019? Let us know in the comments or on social
media and we’ll keep you posted!
Happy new year everyone, here’s to a happy and prosperous
Happy 30th birthday to the Scotch Whisky Experience - extended edition - YouTube
It’s been three decades since the Scotch Whisky Experience opened its doors on Edinburgh’s Castlehill. Since then, we’ve welcomed millions of visitors, poured millions more drams, and introduced people from all over the world to the wonders of whisky! Find out how we celebrated (and who we celebrated with!) here, or watch our video of birthday messages from the industry above. Here’s to many more decades of making the world fall in love with Scotch Whisky!
It’s been a year of awards and award nominations for the Scotch Whisky Experience! In November we were the proud winners of the ASVA Award for the marketing campaign behind our 30th anniversary celebrations; team members Becca Buckner and Rosie Willmot were also recognised as Rising Star nominees in the VisitScotland Thistle Award Regional finals and the ASVA Awards, respectively. We’re incredibly proud of our team and the work they do to keep the Scotch Whisky Experience on the map as the place to go for all things whisky in Edinburgh, so well done to everyone who helped us gain this industry recognition!
We launched BSL and ASL whisky tours
Earlier this year we were incredibly proud to be the first visitor attractions to offer both British and American sign language as part of our selection of languages available on our main Silver Whisky Tour. We celebrated with an official launch of the tours in January, and our team were lucky enough to receive training in welcoming Deaf visitors from ITV’s Joseph Sheridan. Read more about the launch and our commitment to making the Scotch Whisky Experience as welcoming as possible, here.
We’re (still) a 5* Attraction!
Back in September we were awarded 5-star status as a visitor
attraction as part of VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme! We’ve achieved
5 stars every year since the scheme was launched many years ago, but it’s still
a real honour to achieve such a prestigious status, especially as the quality
of Scotland’s visitor attractions continues to grow each year. Here’s to an
brilliant industry, we’re so proud to be part of it!
What’s been your top moment of 2018? We’d love to see your
photos and videos from your visit to us – get in touch or share them on social
In the meantime, happy new year everyone, and slainte mhath
for 2019! See you on the other side…
Every year at the Scotch Whisky Experience, we get the chance to
work with bloggers and vloggers from across the globe, many of whom are
exploring Scotland (and whisky) for the very first time. Some come from the
other side of the world, others come from a little closer to home, as you’ll
We caught up with a few of the bloggers who visited us this year
to ask them a few questions about their time in Edinburgh and their thoughts on
whisky. You can find links to their reviews below each post.
Vida na Escocia
Anelise visited us as one of the trio who run the Brazilian blog Vida na Escocia. Based in Scotland, the blog is a great Brazilian-Portuguese resource for visitors to Scotland, covering everything from exploring the islands to where to eat in the major cities. We were excited for Vida na Escocia to visit us as the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky was originally amassed in Sao Paolo, by Brazilian collector Claive Vidiz!
What was your favourite part of your time at the Scotch Whisky
I really loved the way it managed to teach so much about whisky in
a fun and entertaining way. I didn’t know much about it, and I am now really
proud of my newly acquired knowledge about the subject. I have many
favourite parts, but I guess the number one would be the collection, it is
How do you say ‘cheers’ / ‘happy new year’ where you are from?
In Brazil, when toasting, we say ‘Saúde!’ And for Happy New Year we say ‘Feliz Ano Novo!’
Stacy and Julia form the team from Go
Girlfriend, a US-based site that focuses
exclusively on travel for women – whether it’s business, romantic or weekend
adventures. Stacy and Julia visited us as part of an adventure escape to Scotland,
exploring the wildness of the Highlands combined with a short city-break in
What was your favorite part of your time in Scotland?
Tasting our way
through Scotland at your Scotch Whisky Experience, of course! Truly, but the
GoGirlfriend team fell in love with what I call the “spirit” of Scotland – the
welcoming people, the stunning landscapes and coastal beauty. Every Scotch whisky
we taste from now on will have a heartfelt connection back to Scotland and our
How do you celebrate New Year?
Celebrating with our family tribe – and lots of wine, champagne and of course, Scotch Whisky!
Read Go Girlfriend’s 3 day guide to Edinburgh here
Caroline is one
third of the Edinburgh-based blogging team Edinburgh Foody, and she visited us
as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations back in May. Caroline
was once a guide here at the Scotch Whisky Experience, so we jumped at the
chance to welcome her back for a tour and cheese and whisky tasting in Amber
How do you like your whisky?
I like my whisky straight – give me a couple of measures of whisky
with personality to linger over and I’m a very happy person.
What was your favourite part of your time at the Scotch Whisky Experience?
I enjoyed everything but I am a foody so the matched cheese and whisky tasting was my highlight. The tasting room at the end of the tour got me in the mood for more whisky so the visit to Amber for cheese and whisky chat was the perfect way to end the visit!
Read Caroline’s full review on Edinburgh Foody here
Eve is a wine consultant in the USA, so knows her stuff when it comes to drinks, and naturally a trip to Scotland had to include some Scotch! Her visit to Edinburgh kicked off a three-day trip around the distilleries of the Highlands and Speyside, so the Silver Tour was a perfect introduction.
What was your favourite part of your time at the Scotch Whisky Experience?
Honestly? As a wine and spirits writer I wasn’t expecting to really learn something new, but I did. The interactive lesson – scratch n’ sniff cards and watching how blended whisky is made – was eye opening. And my second favorite part had to be seeing your immense whisky collection while sipping on a lovely dram! I dream about that!
How do you celebrate new year at home?
We are a wee family of three, and not late-night lovers. We usually have a family dinner with wine, and of course a lovely single malt whisky nightcap at about 9pm! This year, as we were able to purchase whisky in Scotland, and find some of our newly discovered favorites here in the U.S., it will definitely be one of the rare single malts we discovered. And then off to bed before our neighbors start lighting fireworks!
Haydy is the face of Squibb Vicious, a UK lifestyle blog all about food and travel with an alternative twist. Haydy and her boyfriend visited Edinburgh in April (an amazing time of year to see the city!), and took a Gold Tour. She produced this video to showcase her trip, and we just loved those shots of the whisky flights with the city skyline in the background!
What do you remember most about your time in Scotland?
I was shocked at just how pretty Edinburgh was! The buildings were all so stunning and the people were all so friendly too.
What was your favourite part of your time at the Scotch Whisky
Finding out what region of whisky we liked most, to know what to look for when buying. We actually ended up buying a few bottles once home that we tried at our tasting.
Marty and Michelle are travel fanatics from – you guessed it! – Texas, USA, and their blog is dedicated to couples’ travel across the globe. North America is where a huge number of Scotch Whisky Experience visitors are based, so we were delighted to welcome them on a tour during the summer. We asked Michelle a few questions about their trip to Scotland.
How do you like your whisky?
We always drink a good whisky straight with a little ice. If
the whisky isn’t as good, then it never hurts to make a good whisky sour with
some homemade sour mix and a frothy egg white.
What do you remember most about your time in Scotland?
Honestly, we loved our trip to Scotland and it’s hard to choose just one memory. I guess what I remember most is how kind the local people were to us. Marty and I had the opportunity to stay in a castle in the town of Lauder while visiting. Every morning we would walk into town for coffee and breakfast. While doing so we had the best time chatting with the local merchants and people of the town. We really felt like they had adopted us by the end. They would make special food for us to try and had our coffee ready to go the minute we walked in. It was quite fun!
Emilie Potard runs Globetrottine, an
independent travel blog based in France. While she’s been all over the world,
she’s got a penchant for the British Isles, and her trip to Scotland was no
did you remember most about your time in Scotland?
I spent a couple of days in Edinburgh back in March. It was freezing cold and grey, yet the city was still very welcoming. Walking through the Old Town of Edinburgh is literally walking through history. I also spent a day out around Stirling. The weather was gorgeous that day, the snow was still hanging on top of the hills. Scottish landscapes are simply breathtaking.
do you like your whisky?
the past couple of years I have taken interest in whisky and started to really
enjoy it. I like it straight so I can feel the taste more clearly. But to be
honest, when it’s really cold outside, I love having a hot whisky! Best thing in
do you say ‘cheers’ / ‘happy new year’ where you are from?
In France, we always cheer to good health by saying ‘Santé!’ We also have rules when we say it, we have to look into the eyes of each other, otherwise it’s bad luck. Let me wish you a happy new year by ending with a ‘Bonne année!’
Read Emilie’s guide to Edinburgh here
Happy new year, everyone!
All images are reproduced by kind permission of each blogger. Cover photo: Squibb Vicious.
Our whiskies of the month for December are going down a storm (take a look at the festive whisky puns that our team have come up with!), but if you’re enjoying a dram during the darker winter months, there’s no better time to get your tastebuds working overtime with some cracking food matches.
Below you’ll find a list of the best Scotch whisky matches
for Christmas: our team have raided the fridge, the cupboards and Scotland’s
larder to find a seasonal something to tempt you: from chocolate selection boxes
to some of Scotland’s freshest meat and seafood, all matched perfectly with a
Glen Scotia produces a maritime malt: briney notes come to
the fore, with a slight smokiness in the background. Pairing this whisky with
some good quality smoked salmon brings out the salty ocean flavours in the
whisky, whilst the whisky itself cuts through the oiliness of the salmon.
Many aged, sherried whiskies are referred to by our team as
“Christmas pudding in a glass”, and you can’t go wrong pairing your Christmas
day dessert with this rich, full-bodied whisky that complements the flavours
with its own aromas of treacle, dried fruits and candied orange.
What do you think of these holiday whisky pairings? We’d
love to know what you’ll be having your festive dram with – let us know in the
Read last year’s blog on whisky matches for your whole Christmas Day feast here.
*Umami is the newest flavour discovered in recent years
joining the family of sweet, salty, bitter and sour.
It’s definitely Christmas time here at the Scotch Whisky Experience! Last year, we brought you a crowd-pleasing spicy ginger and whisky cocktail to serve up to your guests; this year we’ve gone a wee bit more sophisticated – Bar Manager Ian has conjured up a citrussy Christmas cocktail that’ll go down a treat. Find the full video here, or take a look at our animated step by step guide below.
Citrussy Christmas Cocktail
Half a lime (plus extra to garnish)
Orange marmalade (we used the orange and whisky marmalade available in our onsite shop)
Too much of anything is bad; but too much good whisky is barely enough.
– Mark Twain
With Book Week taking over Scotland from Monday 19th November to the 25th November, Visitor Assistant Louise has rounded up a selection of books on whisky that’ll take your Scotch game to new heights. You’ll find all of them in our onsite shop, right here at the Scotch Whisky Experience.
Ideal for swatting up before a pub quiz, Whiskypedia’s Curiosities section under each distillery brings a whole new array of useful knowledge and fascinating trivia. If you want to know which distillery owners of yore were ambushed for taxes, which distilleries have won BAFTA awards, and which have been visited by royalty, MacLean will tell you.
Warning: Book Actually Contains 102 Whiskies. In spite of the slight mistruth on the cover, Buxton takes you on a global adventure through whisky, offering a variety of prices and rarities in bourbon, Scotch, Irish, Swedish, South African… the list is extensive.
If this isn’t enough, pick up 101 More World Whiskies to Try Before You Die.
If your focus is specifically on imbibing, the Manual is the way to go. This extensive exploration from Broom covers any and all possible ways you can enjoy a dram – from neat, to adding ice, water or even green tea, to cocktails, both classic and contemporary variations.
Sheila McConachie and Graham Harvey, GW Publishing.
Food pairings are iconic in the drinks industry – check our previous food pairing blogs! – and whisky is no different. In the Whisky Kitchen, you can find a real plethora of both pairings and recipes to try your hand at!
It’s Thanksgiving for our friends across the pond! Scotch whisky has a lot to be thankful for when it comes to north America – not just because as a country, the USA are among the biggest fans of all things Scotch – but because the bourbon industry in the States helps to support the whisky industry through its provision of used barrels for spirit maturation. Whiskey regulation in North America means that bourbon spirit can only be matured in fresh oak barrels; a large proportion of ex-bourbon barrels are then sold to the Scotch whisky industry for maturing new-make spirit fresh off the stills.
Bourbon barrels are responsible for those big, bold, often aromatic flavours you find in many Scotch whiskies: vanilla, coconut and other sweet treats will dominate, maybe with a slight spicy note.
This year, we’ve gone a wee bit different: below you’ll find a recipe for a classic pumpkin pie that takes a dash of inspiration from Scotland with the inclusion of a wee nip of whisky in the filling. We finish with a selection of Scotch whisky matches to bring out those autumnal flavours. Enjoy!
Whisky Pumpkin Pie
1 tin of pumpkin puree (400g)
150g caster sugar
1 can of evaporated milk
½ tsp ground ginger
2 cloves, ground finely
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 dram (25ml) of Scotch whisky – we chose Scapa Skiren for its complimentary notes of honeycomb and fruity aromas
125g plain flour
100g cold, cubed butter
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
Equipment: 23cm flan tin
First make the pastry – combine the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles oatmeal flakes. Add fridge-cold water in drops and gradually bring the mixture together in a soft dough. Wrap the dough and chill it for 30 minutes, then roll it out and line your greased, floured flan tin. Put it back in the fridge while you make the filling.
Heat the oven to 190°c
Beat the eggs, sugar, whisky, vanilla and spices in a mixing bowl.
Fold in the pumpkin puree, followed by the evaporated milk.
Pour the filling into the pastry shell and bake for 40-50 minutes until the filling has set. Cover the top with foil if the filling starts to colour or catch.
Enjoy the pie warm or cold with cream!
Whisky matches for pumpkin pie
We asked our team for some Scotch whisky matches that would pair perfectly with this classic pumpkin pie, see what you think!
This much-loved coastal Highland whisky isn’t too spicy, so would allow the flavours of ginger and cinnamon to come through from the pie. You’ll also find lots of soft sweetness and fragrant notes with a slight oiliness to the finish which works perfectly with the palate and creaminess of the pie itself.
Always a team favourite – A’Bunadh is a beautiful whisky that goes with lots of winter dishes. At cask strength, it has a certain kick to it, but the sherry maturation gives flavours of orange, sparky ginger and dried fruit, all of which work beautifully with the winter spiciness of the pumpkin pie.
Well, we had to throw this one in, didn’t we? A smooth cask-strength blend, our anniversary whisky has all those soft sweet like vanilla and coconut ice, with some rich spiciness to compliment the pumpkin pie flavours, and sophisticated smokiness to the finish. It also happens to be the perfect celebratory whisky, and we’re incredibly thankful to have been here on Castlehill for 30 years!
Remember, remember the 5th of November… As the nights draw in, there’s plenty to look forward to if you turn your head to the skies in Edinburgh! We’re a city that knows how to celebrate with a bang, and if you are visiting during the winter months – for Bonfire Night, St Andrews Day or perhaps even Hogmanay, you’re in for a treat when it comes to the firework displays across the country.
Fireworks in Edinburgh (credit and copyright: prettylittleworld_87 – Instagram)
Here are some great viewing points around Edinburgh to watch the many firework displays (public and private) across the city. Remember, stay safe and stay warm!
The classic spot. Head up Edinburgh’s Calton Hill (just a few minutes’ walk east of Princes Street) for a brilliant 360 view of the city: Arthur’s Seat to the south, Edinburgh Castle and the Pentland Hills to the west, Leith and Portobello to the north and east. You’ll be in good company, too, as Calton Hill is a favourite among locals and visitors alike when it comes to picking a good spot for firework-watching.
Good to know: There are step-free access points around Calton Hill – enter via Blenheim Place or Regent Terrace.
Slightly further out of the city, but accessible on the main bus routes that also serve Edinburgh Airport, Corstorphine Hill is a beautiful nature spot that offers spectacular views of the city from the east side, with Edinburgh Castle in the centre and Arthur’s Seat behind. Access is a little trickier in the dark, particularly on the way down so bring a torch and some good walking shoes.
Blackford Hill, Edinburgh (credit and copyright: prettylittleworld_87)
Blackford Hill sits on the southern side of the city, and is a great spot for watching the many private firework displays that go on in Edinburgh’s residential areas. On a clear night you’ll even see over to the Kingdom of Fife to the north of the city. Parking around Blackford Hill is limited as it is a residential spot, and you’ll access the top of the hill via grassy (often muddy!) footpaths. Take care and bring suitable footwear and a good torch!
Not for the faint-hearted, climbing Edinburgh’s famous volcano in the dark can be risky, but the views are pretty breathtaking and if you want to get a great view of the city at night, this is a fantastic place to go (read our Photographer’s Guide to Edinburgh for some tips on traversing the hills in the dark). From Holyrood Park itself, you’ll still have fantastic views looking back towards the city.
Other great places to watch Hogmanay and festival fireworks
Perfect if you’re living or staying centrally and you love the communal atmosphere of a classic firework display. Always a busy spot, the Meadows are easily accessed from all corners of the city, and their size mean you’re well served by buses from wherever you are. Parking is permit-only around most of the roads, so you are better walking or catching public transport.
West Approach Road
For smaller groups, head to the bridge above West Approach Road on the east side of Edinburgh Castle for a brilliant view of the festival and Hogmanay fireworks. Access the bridge from the walkway opposite Usher Hall on Lothian Road.
Where do you enjoy watching festive fireworks from in Edinburgh? Let us know your tips in the comments and on social media!
You can find a list of Bonfire Night events via VisitScotland here.
Please note: For general guidance only. Some of the spots mentioned above can be treacherous in the dark. Please take care and wear suitable footwear and clothing when visiting them.