The Great European Adventure

Drinking is an Important Part of the Culture…

My brother and I were in Edinburgh just long enough to walk the royal mile, eat some haggis, and drink some scotch.


This is my brother, by the way, he’ll be joining us for the posts about the UK.

You may notice that he’s carrying an umbrella. That’s because during our time in Edinburgh it rained, a lot. As a result, we found a culturally appropriate activity for a rainy afternoon–


The Scotch Whisky Experience

My brother really enjoys Scotch, and I had a lovely afternoon here, even as a newbie Scotch drinker. If you visit their website, you’ll notice that it’s a bit Disneyesque, and the tour even begins with a barrel ride through a replica distillery where a ghostly guide explains the art of making whisky. There’s even something for the kids, a black cat named Peat who you can try to spot throughout the tour. And in the giftshop afterwards, you can buy a plushie of Peat the Cat. It seemed a bit odd to try to make an alcohol-themed adventure into something family friendly, but parents want to go on a whisky tasting too, I suppose.

And that was really the highlight–the whiskey tasting. Following the barrel ride, a guide walked us through a Scotch tasting. We learned about the 4 different regions from which Scotch Whisky normally comes–Lowland, Highland, Speyside, and Islay–and each visitor was given a smelling guide.


Supposedly, the Highland whiskeys contain hints of vanilla, the Lowland are more citrusy, the Speyside smells a bit like bananas, and the Islay is smoky. Once we’d learned about our options, we got to pick which kind we wanted to try. Because my brother and I had sprung for the Gold Tour rather than the Silver, we were able to try four additional Scotches once the tour concluded, so I tasted at least one of each type. The Islay is the one I remember best because Islays have that distinct smoky flavor people typically associate with Scotch. I commented that it tasted like beef jerky.

Quite the refined pallet, I know.

In case (unlike me) you’re a Scotch aficionado, the Scotches we tasted in the bar after the tour were Auchentoshan Classic, Royal Lochnager 12 year old, Glenlivet 12 year old, and Laphroaig 10 year old.

The Scotch Whiskey Experience is also home to the largest collection of Scotch Whiskeys in the world, and you get to see that regardless of which tour you sign up for.


Pretty, no?

We may not have seen a lot of Scotland, but one could argue we tasted quite a bit. Are you a fan of Scotch? How about Disneyesque alcohol wonderlands?

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.

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  • Jeremiah

    I’m taking a month in Europe. My last week will be spent in Scotland but I’m considering making it two weeks. I have family things to do in Aberdeen but I want to hit Edinburgh as well. I’m a fan of scotch but a bigger fan of beer.

    • opportunemma

      Beer is definitely my go to drink of choice — I think of Scotch more for special occasions. Although, that might be because it’s so expensive in the United States. It’s definitely easier to be a regular Scotch drinker in Scotland. Have fun!

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