The 10 BEST virtual whisky tours you can do at home for free (2020)
The 10 BEST virtual whisky tours you can do at home for free (2020)
The following article highlights some of the best virtual whisky tours you can do at home for free during the lockdown. I have checked several tours available online and my conclusion is that these are the most interesting and informative virtual experiences that you can find on the internet right now.
I understand that doing virtual tours of distilleries that we all love is not comparable with the real thing in any way, but hey! At least we have the chance to enjoy and virtually interact with some of our favourite distilleries out there.
Let’s take a look at each of them, I hope this summary encourages you to visit them when things get back to normal.
No. 1 – The Glenturret Distillery (Scotland)
One of the most complete and well-developed virtual tours I found when doing my research. Glenturret claims to be the oldest distillery in Scotland (Founded in 1775).
Whether if they are the oldest distillery in Scotland or not, it is undoubtedly that they have been in the whisky business for a very long time. In 1999 was acquired by the Edrington group and soon created The Famous Grouse Experience. For almost 20 years, their visitor centre has been one of the most visited attractions in the whole country.
Sadly, for those who love touring across distilleries, this isn’t an option right now. The good news is they have created a very impressive virtual tour. The tour is extremely informative and you can virtually stand at each stage of the production process. It also displays complementary videos with explanations of some of the highlights of the distillery. If you haven’t been at The Glenturret before, this tour will give you a very accurate idea of what to expect in real life.
No. 2 – Macallan (Scotland)
Not only one of the most cherished and collectable Scotch whiskies of all times but also a 5 stars distillery visitor centre. Macallan is located in the region of Speyside in the northeast of Scotland. Speyside is considered to be the Scottish capital of whisky production since almost half of the total number of distilleries in the country lay on these fields.
The Macallan virtual whisky tour is a fully interactive, multi-sensory experience that takes you on a journey throughout this spectacular distillery. A journey across history, architecture, The Macallan State, the collection and the opportunity to explore the distillery throughout the whole production process.
As a curious fact, the virtual tour highlights the curiously small pot stills. The smaller the pot still, the more complex and richer the flavour. In small pot stills, the spirit can interact in greater proportion with the copper which it turns into a more flavourful and complex spirit. A well-known characteristic among the whole Macallan range.
No. 3 – Glenfiddich (Scotland)
Another well-known single malt, one of the biggest and most famous distilleries in the world. Also located in the Speyside region. Glenfiddich is the most awarded single malt whisky in the world. It’s also the biggest single malt whisky producer in Scotland, and as a curious fact, it was the first distillery to relaunch the “single malt” category in 1963. A category that before that year was pretty much unknown for the general public.
Glenfiddich’s visitor centre, as well as many other distilleries in Scotland, is temporarily closed. However, that’s no reason why you can’t visit the distillery (virtually) and continue learning and enjoying one of the greatest single malt whiskies ever.
Learn about Glenfiddich’s production process and take a “Journey into the Mind of the Malt Master” as they have called this fascinating virtual whisky tour. This experience is one of the most creative and enjoyable experience. A good approach to the mastery and craft of single malt whisky production from a different perspective.
No. 4 – Laphroaig (Islay)
Yes, I understand that nothing is comparable to visit the isle of Islay in real life and even more during Fèis Ìle which, unfortunately, this year was cancelled due to COVID-19. A festival full of culture, music, art, breath-taking scenery, rough nature, and of course my friends, some of the most fascinating and legendary whisky distilleries Scotland has to offer.
This year, one of the virtual whisky tours of an Islay distillery that you can do from home is Laphroaig. Founded in 1815 and part of the Beam Suntory group, Laphroaig is one of those distilleries that worth a visit, a tour and a dram. During the virtual 360 experience, they take us on a trip around the distillery surroundings, the peat fields, the malting floors, the kilns, the still room, and the old and dirty warehouses.
It is a short tour, but I’m sure, it will encourage you to visit Laphroaig next year for Fèis Ìle 2021. In the meantime, pour yourself a dram of your favourite Laphroaig and enjoy the 360 experience at this iconic distillery.
No. 5 – Bowmore (Islay)
Another Islay distillery, another fantastic single malt whisky. Bowmore, the oldest distillery in the island founded in 1779 only three years after the independence of USA. As a curious fact, their No. 1 Vaults, are known to be the oldest Scotch maturation warehouse.
The virtual whisky tour through Bowmore distillery is a journey through history starting with an overview of the town of Bowmore (The capital of Islay), it also takes us through the malting floors. A forgotten tradition within the whisky industry that we don’t see quite often anymore. Take a look at the kilns, the peat, and the barley. Simple but meaningful ingredients that make Bowmore one of the greatest whiskies of all times.
And last but not least, the tour finishes at the legendary No. 1 Vault where oak barrels have been maturing whisky since 1779. They say distilleries make spirits but the wood makes whisky. Although the faces have changed, their methods remain pretty much the same.
No. 6 – Jack Daniels (Tennessee)
If you ever wondered how Jack Daniels is made and what makes this whiskey different from other American whiskeys. This tour will guide you through some of the highlights of their methods.
The Tennessee distillery highlights the main aspects of the Old N. 7 such as his founder (Jack), the Lincoln County process which is where the new make spirit gets filtered through a pile of sugar maple charcoal to add the traditional sweet note that makes Jack Daniels different from a traditional Bourbon.
Jack Daniels distillery is also one of the very few in the USA that possesses an in-house cooperage department. The place where they build, toast and charred the barrels to ensure the flavour keeps consistent over time.
No. 7 – Eden Mill (Scotland)
Coming back to Scotland, there’s Eden Mill microbrewery and Distillery in St Andrews. A craft distillery mostly famous for its fantastic gin. These guys are certainly not wasting time since they have managed to maximize their production by taking advantage of every step of their production process.
After the fermentation, one batch goes to be bottled (as beer) and the other goes for distillation. After distillation, part of their new make spirit will be bottled as gin, whereas the second part goes to maturation in a wide range of oak barrels for at least three years.
As a curious fact, Eden Mill distillery has been pioneered in using different types of barley for their whisky production: pale malt, chocolate malt and crystal malt. Honouring their heritage as brewers, of course.
No. 8 – Tequila Patron (Mexico)
When doing my research for this article I found out a very interesting Tequila Hacienda offering virtual tours. Being myself a tequila and mezcal enthusiast too, I found this tour quite interesting and well produced. I went to Tequila town in Mexico a few years ago and I can say there are a lot of similarities between whisky distilleries in Scotland and tequila Haciendas in Mexico.
They are both handcrafted, usually small premises, they both use copper pot stills and the production process is pretty much the same. Except for the main ingredient, of course, which is agave instead of malted barley. Regardless of their ingredients, both industries are full of heritage, traditions and oak barrels.
During the Patron’s virtual tour, they will take you through the step by step of the production process inside of a bee’s head (Patron’s iconic bee emblem). The tour will tell the story through the eyes of this iconic insect flying over the agave fields and showing the art and craft behind Patron throughout the whole production process.
No. 9 – Sipsmith Gin (London)
A beautiful and craft gin distillery located in west London. The first distillery in the city for 200 years. Sipsmith offers a YouTube 360 video where you can learn about the brand, the founders, the team and all the particular methods they use when it comes to gin production in their beautiful Pot Stills: Prudence, Patience and Constance.
The virtual tour is simple and short, just in a bit more than 3 minutes, they managed to show in a creative way how things are done at Sipsmith, their culture, their passion, their knowledge, and their values.
No. 10 – Ketel One Vodka (Netherlands)
Finally, if you like vodka, check out this virtual tour and discover the history behind the coal-fired copper Pot Still No. 1. The Pot Still that gave Ketel One Vodka its name back in the 19th century.
The virtual tour is very informative and interesting, it also displays complementary videos that show the most important steps of their production process.
As a curious fact, the distillery is located in the city of Schiedam in Holland, a city with hundreds of years of history in regards to spirits distillation. They claim to be the place where Brandi and Jenever (Dutch gin) were invented.
Finally, learn how to make vodka cocktails at the bar, take a look at the windmill that powers the distillery and discover more curious facts about Ketel One vodka and the city of Schiedam here.
Did I Miss Anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which distillery from today’s post are you going to visit when they open again?
Or maybe I didn’t mention a virtual tour that must be on this list?
Either way, if you want to learn more about whisky tours, distilleries and other ways to enjoy whisky at home during the lockdown. Come and join us to one of our weekly virtual whisky tastings.
We promise good fun, education, loads of curious facts, valuable information you would love to learn, and of course my friends, fantastic whisky you need to try at least once.