Whisky Trail Barge Cruise Itinerary
A whisky trail barge cruise along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, offers a special itinerary that allows whisky lovers to visit a number of long-established distilleries to find out more about how Scotland's favorite export is produced, as well, of course, the opportunity to taste it.
Whisky trail barge cruises are perfect for single malt whisky enthusiasts, whether they taste the liquid nectar at any of the distilleries we visit, or partake of a wee dram or two from the many whiskies available on their Scottish hotel barge.
Sunday, Day 1 - Muirtown
Guests are met at our designated meeting point in Inverness and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Spirit of Scotland. Champagne Welcome and if you wish, an early evening stroll to the sea lock with wonderful views over the Moray and Beauly Firths. Then perhaps savour one of the hotel barge’s many single malts before your first dinner on board.
Monday, Day 2 - Muirtown to Dochgarroch
Our first cruise will take us up the Muirtown lock flight and through Tomnahurich swing bridge, with an option to walk alongside River Ness to the hamlet of Dochgarroch. In the afternoon, we visit the Benromach Distillery near Forres, the smallest distillery on Speyside and run by Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin, a family business for over 100 years. Here we enjoy a guided tour and then a tutored tasting of the classic Benromach Speyside single malt whisky. On the way back to the barge, we can stop off at Culloden Moor, scene of the last major battle on British soil in 1746, or visit the Inverness Whisky Shop to discover its huge range of specialist whiskies. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 - Dochgarroch to Fort Augustus
This morning we enjoy a picturesque cruise from Dochgarroch and down magnificent Loch Ness, with perhaps a chance of spotting “Nessie”, to arrive at Fort Augustus. Following lunch on board, we visit the Tomatin Distillery nestled in rolling hills alongside the River Findhorn and founded in 1897. We are given an expert tour, followed by a tutored nosing and tasting of a range of single malts, including some from exclusive casks. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 - Fort Augustus to Cullochy
After breakfast, we visit the private Highland Club, a spectacular exclusive set of residences and a former 19th century Benedictine Monastery. Here we are treated to a falconry and birds of prey demonstration (weather dependent) on the banks of Loch Ness, and the majesty of the swooping birds against the backdrop of the sweeping Scottish Highlands is not easily forgotten. There is time to explore the pretty village of Fort Augustus before lunch on board, after which our cruise takes us up the “flight”, as the locals call it, at Fort Augustus and then on to our pretty mooring at Cullochy. This evening we are given a tutored private whisky tasting at charming The Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, followed by dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Thursday, Day 5 - Cullochy to Gairlochy
Our cruise today can be partially walked as we cross the very scenic Loch Oich and onto the pretty Laggan Avenue. En route, our Highland Piper may greet us with a stirring rendition of traditional Scottish music, before we cruise on across Loch Lochy to our mooring at Gairlochy. After lunch, we drive through some stunning scenery to visit the Glen Ord distillery, founded in 1838 on the Black Isle by the Mackenzies of Ord. A fascinating description of the maturing and ageing process of single and blended malts is followed, of course, by a tasting. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 - Gairlochy to Banavie
Today, our final cruise will see us pass through Moy Bridge, the last fully hand-operated bridge on the canal, before mooring at Banavie beneath Ben Nevis and a stroll from Neptune’s Staircase leading down to Loch Eil. After lunch on board, our tour today takes us to the renowned Dalwhinnie Distillery, standing in the Cairngorms National Park. Here, we are given a tour of the distillery and taste some single malts paired with a selection of delicious chocolates. If time permits, on the drive back to the barge we can also visit the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle. Captain’s Farewell Dinner and of course, the opportunity to enjoy another wee dram or two.
Saturday, Day 7 Banavie
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to their choice of location in Inverness.
- On alternate weeks the barge cruise will be in the reverse direction.
- This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.