Sampling whiskies and hiking around Speyside

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
75 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
3-4 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 300
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
80th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb


Speyside sits in the northern part of the Cairngorm Mountains.  The wildest, highest part of the UK and, with its mountain landscapes, crisp fresh air and sub-Arctic climate, quickly detaches you from any feeling of being in the rest of the UK.  Firmly in the highlands of Scotland, you can enjoy the surrounding hikes to the lochs and sample the most famous single malt whiskies in the world.  The old cliché is so true – the taste and enjoyment of the alcohol completely depends on the location and context that you’re experiencing it in – sipping Champagne in the rural vineyards of the Champagne region, drinking the menu of wheat beers in an abbey in Belgium, learning about Rum on an island in the Caribbean –  being in a Speyside lodge sampling whiskies with the mountains in the background and a fire nearby is right up there and about as good an alcohol experience as you can get


Top tip #1 – Stay in a lodge ideally just outside of Aviemore and one that offers whisky tasting.  The town of Aviemore itself is nice, but a little touristy.  If you stay outside, you will avoid the (small) crowds and be able to enjoy that mountain view around you that little bit more.  In particular, find one that offers a whisky tasting session (most do) – doing so will allow you to really learn about the different types rather than only those shared by the individual distilleries.  Plus, it allows you to ask a heap of increasingly slurry questions into the evening

Top tip #2 – visit either the Glenfiddich or Macallan distilleries.  They’re much larger than the others, but they run the experience very well and  have a great sample at the end to try.  Glenfiddich you can just rock up without a booking, Macallan you need to book ahead

Top tip #3 – you can visit all year round, but need summer for the hiking.  I’ve visited in winter and, although it is bloody freezing and very very dark, its quite atmospheric to be there.  Summer is busier with fellow tourists, but the long days and warmer weather allows you to head off for a day hike up to one of the many lochs that surround Aviemore


#1 Visiting one of the famous Speyside distilleries to learn all about how they make the world-famous single malts

#2 Hiking up through the mountains to one of the beautifully serene lochs up and around Aviemore

#3 Hitting Speyside in winter - it's cold and dark, but wonderfully atmospheric as you look out of the window by the warm fire

#4 Trying out the various famous single malts, ideally with a guide to explain to you the key differences to be looking for

Experiences nearby

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Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone