1. Maker’s Mark, Loretto, Kentucky, USA
Though it may not be that well known outside of the States, Maker’s Mark is arguably one of the finest examples of a true Kentucky bourbon. With origins dating back to the 1950s, the historic Maker’s Mark distillery located in Loretto, Kentucky, has even been declared a USA Historic National Landmark.
Set in beautiful Kentucky countryside, the distillery offers visitors hour-long tours at US$12 per adult, providing a fascinating look into the history and current production of this quintessential Kentucky export.
2. Jack Daniels, Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA
No list of whisky distilleries could be complete without mentioning the famous Tennessee liquor. As the best-selling and most famous of American whiskies, Jack Daniels would naturally be high on the list for many whisky lovers. Taking a tour of the Jack Daniels operation in Lynchburg, Tennessee presents an opportunity to gain insight into this world-famous whisky.
There are a variety of tours available, ranging from more concise half-hour tours at US$13 per person to extensive three-hour tours at US$75. These include not only a tour of the Tennessee whisky production, but also a sumptuous sit-down meal at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant, offering a taste of real Southern American homemade fare.
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3. George Washington Distillery, Virginia, USA
For lovers of both history and whisky, a stop at George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill at Mount Vernon, Virginia would be highly recommended. After his tenure as the US’ first president, George Washington opened a whisky distillery on his Virginia estate of Mount Vernon, which used to be the largest whisky distillery in America.
Today, an impeccable reconstruction of the distillery operates on the historic estate, manufacturing small-batch spirits and offering visitors compelling tours. Washington’s Distillery is open to the public between April and October only and tickets are available online.
4. Jameson, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
When in the Irish capital, it’s all but mandatory to incorporate a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery on Bow Street into your Dublin adventures.
As one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Old Jameson Distillery is guaranteed to provide visitors with a thoroughly enjoyable experience, even if you’re not that into whisky. Guided tours, tastings and even whisky cocktail mixology classes are available to tourists.
And though the Dublin distillery is the original location where the famous Irish whisky was made, it is now more of a visitors’ centre than an operating distillery.
5. Old Bushmills, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Founded in the late 1700s in the quaint Northern Irish village of Bushmills in county Antrim, the Bushmills Distillery is the oldest operating whisky distillery in all of Ireland. As such, a tour of this landmark whisky-making facility will provide an interesting glimpse into the world of this enduring Irish spirit.
Tours of the Bushmills operation cost £8 (US$10) for adults and educate visitors on the distillery’s history, the Old Bushmills-making process and include, of course, some wonderful whisky tastings.
6. Glenfiddich, Dufftown, Scotland
Scotland is renowned as a whisky lover’s paradise, with almost countless distilleries dotting the magnificent Scottish landscape, producing some of the world’s finest whiskies.
One of the most famous Scotch whiskies, Glenfiddich, is distilled in a verdant valley in the Scottish highlands and definitely worth visiting. There are three different tour options, ranging from a £10, 90-minute educational and tasting experience to a £95, four-hour exploration of the inner workings of this fine Scotch production facility.
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7. Talisker, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Located on the breathtakingly beautiful Isle of Skye, the Talisker Distillery produces high quality, premium single malt Scotch whisky. As the oldest working distillery on the rugged Scottish island, this is one distillery any whisky aficionado would love to see.
Not only will a trip to the Talisker distillery provide a gratifying journey through this top Scotch facility, it’ll also allow for unforgettable travels around the somewhat remote, yet undeniably spectacular craggy scenery that abound on the Isle of Skye.
8. Isle of Arran Distillers, Isle of Arran, Scotland
Another Scottish island distillery, Isle of Arran Distillers is rather young, having only been established in 1995. Despite being a relative newcomer, this independently owned whisky-production establishment is definitely worth the visit.
Take a tour of this, the only working distillery on the island and you’ll enjoy a fascinating encounter with entertaining expert guides, dispensing a wealth of information about the Arran production process. A range of tour options is available, including a 45-minute, £8 distillery tour as well as a £15.50 tutored tasting adventure.
9. Yamazaki, Shimamoto, Japan
Venture further afield beyond the archetypal whisky-producing nations of Ireland and Scotland and you’ll find some real treasures, such as Yamazaki, located in the Osaka prefecture town of Shimamoto.
Having begun its operations in 1923, Yamazaki is the first commercial Japanese whisky maker. Though a whisky tour may not be the first thing that springs to mind when travelling around Japan, a visit to this most notable of distilleries will certainly not disappoint.
Two primary tour options are available; namely the Yamazaki Distillery Tour and the Story of Yamazaki tour, where both options offer tours of the production facilities and tastings, with the latter also boasting the added experience of an interesting film, which paints a rich and unique picture of the entire Yamazaki story.
10. James Sedgwick Distillery, Wellington, South Africa
Another unexpected destination on this list, the picturesque town of Wellington in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, is home to the James Sedgwick Distillery, Africa’s sole commercial whisky distillery and producers of a range of internationally recognised whisky labels, including the Three Ships fleet.
Booking a tour of this distillery, which is only some 50 minutes’ drive from Cape Town city centre, will afford visitors with an exceptional, first-hand understanding of the whisky-crafting process, as well as a sampling of five dishes to perfectly balance the aromatic range of whiskies produced on site.
11. Bakery Hill, Victoria, Australia
The final stop on our global expedition through some of the world’s finest whisky distillers sees us going down under to the Australian state of Victoria, where on the outskirts of Melbourne lies Bakery Hill Distillery.
Producers of Australia’s finest premium malt whisky, the Bakery Hill Distillery is only open to the public at certain times. Booking a tour can be done online on their website and will present visitors with a delightful sensory expedition through the Bakery Hill production facility. The tour concludes with a tasting session combined with the opportunity to purchase bottles of the whisky at discounted rates.
– TEXT BY SAUL LIPCHIK
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.