When visiting the capital it can be very tempting to only stay within its walls, even for a whisky fan.

What with the educational fun of the Scotch Whisky Experience, the inviting atmospheres of the bars and the knowledgeable and friendly shops selling bottles galore.

However, should you venture outside of the city, there are a few of the country’s top distilleries that are within a couple of hours drive from the capital.

And with the Crabbies, Holyrood and Port of Leith distilleries a little way off being visitor ready, here are the closest distilleries to Edinburgh that you can visit – so grab your designated driver and go see some whisky making.

Within 40 minutes…

Glenkinchie Distillery 

(40 minutes from Edinburgh, Pencaitland, Trenant, EH 34 5ET)

Whisky Distilleries Edinburgh

Picture: Diageo

Only 15 miles from the capital lies Edinburgh’s unofficial distillery, home of the ‘Edinburgh malt’ and one of the best equipped in the country for tours.

With an incredible scale model to show the process involved in whisky making, a state of the art visitor centre and an intimate tour, it’s well worth checking out.

Best of all, they even offer a shuttle service from the centre of Edinburgh to Glenkinchie twice a day, 7 days a week, which you can book by calling the distillery.

Tours: £10 per person

• READ MORE: Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian opens the doors to its newly extended visitor centre

Within an hour or so…

Deanston Distillery 

(One hour and 10 minutes from Edinburgh, Doune, FK16 6AG)

Deanston Distillery and River Teith. Picture: Colin Smith\Geograph

Having played a starring role in the Ken Loach film, The Angels’ Share, (well for the interior shots) Deanston distillery isn’t too far to get to by car from Edinburgh, and is another exciting example of whisky making in action.

Though it’s not the prettiest of the distilleries on this list, be in no doubt that it produces some tasty liquid, while also sporting some excellent visitor facilities – which show how the distillery grew from a cotton mill to a modern day production site.

Tours: £9 (basic) to £35 per person

Clydeside Distillery 

(One hour and 12 mins from Edinburgh, 100 Stobcross Rd, Glasgow G3 8QQ)

Picture: Trip Advisor

Let’s face it, Glasgow is only an hour from the capital and though the two cities are like chalk and cheese, they both know whisky and in the Clydeside Distillery, the first in Scotland’s biggest city with a fully functioning visitor centre (Glasgow Distillery being the first to produce single malt) they have a cracking excuse to make your way there for a day trip.

Learn all about the whisky barons and Glasgow’s rich history of shipbuilding and sea trade, before finding all about how this pretty distillery is making its first ever single malt which should be available in a few years or so.

It’s within walking distance from the city centre and also has an incredible whisky shop and cafe that are both worth visiting if you make your way there.

Tours: £15 (basic) to £150 per person 

• READ MORE: Spirit flows on the Clyde as Glasgow’s Clydeside Distillery officially opens

Lindores Abbey Distillery

(Abbey Rd, Newburgh, Cupar KY14 6HH)

The spiritual home of Scotch whisky is also not far from the capital, it was here, that in 1494 that King James IV sent a commission to a friar living at the Abbey to make for him aqua vitae.

This would be the first recorded (in written form) reference to (whisky) spirit making in the country, nowadays what was once home to Friar John (the original spirit maker) is now home to one of Scotland’s new distilleries, and perhaps rather aptly, Aqua Vitae is being made there once again.

Enjoy a tour around the fledgeling distillery and learn all about the history of the Abbey and the production site itself before enjoying an Aqua Vitae.

Tours: £12.50 per person (basic) to £75

Within an hour and a half…

Kingsbarns Distillery 

(Kingsbarns, St Andrews KY16 8QE)

Picture: Kingsbarns

This shiny new distillery is part of the resurgence of whisky making in the kingdom of Fife and is another great production site doing things their own way.

Check out one of their excellent tours before relaxing with a  soup, coffee or a sandwich on the south-east facing cafe and terrace. Don’t worry, if you have a larger group and want to stay for dinner, there are no less than two impressive rooms you can rent out for private dining.

And should you want to try something other than whisky, why not check Kingsbarns sister distillery, Darnley’s, where the exciting Darnley’s gin is made.

Tours: Three different tours ranging from £10 (basic) -£50 per person with gin tours also available


About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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