Our Journal

Activities, Route Suggestions, Things To Do
25 June 2021
Kim Pierce

6 Day North Coast 500 Whiskey Tour Itinerary

With over 130 active distilleries in Scotland and a history dating back to 1494, Scotlands national drink has been lovingly crafted over hundreds of years. Each distillery is unique with everything from the level of peat in the area to the source of the water used having an impact on its taste.

Originally named acqua vitae from the Latin for ‘water of life’, the term ‘whisky’ has retained its original meaning but derives from Gaelic, a form of Celtic language spoken in the Scottish Highlands.

We definitely don’t endorse drink driving so make sure you have a designated drive or you’re already parked up for the night before sampling the golden dram.

Please note that tours and experiences mentioned below may not be currently offered due to Covid-19 travel rules and restrictions. Please check with the distillery websites for more details.

Barrels Ageing Whiskey

Day 1: Inverness to Strathpeffer to Tain

Meet the Highland Overland team at Inverness airport to pick up your truck and make your way to Dingwall, just half an hour outside of Inverness for your first stop on our Highlands Whiskey tour.

The GlenWyvis distillery was founded in 2015 on a beautiful swath of land under the Ben Wyvis mountain in the town of Dingwall who’s roots in distilling go back to 1690.

They have created the first ever 100% community-owned distillery by bringing together 3000 like-minded people from the local Dingwall area and beyond to invest in these award-winning products.

Distance: approx 20 miles

Places to Stay:

Day 2: Strathpeffer to Tain

Before you start your day of distillery discovery in the Easter Ross, take some time to explore Strathpeffer and learn about its history. As you drive by Cromarty Firth on your way to Tain keep an eye out for seals basking on the rocks.

The first distillery of the day is The Dalmore distillery, near Evanton who’s Master Distiller, Richard Paterson has been the creative mind behind this famous distillery for nearly five decades and hand picks the exclusive casks. These casks are are handed down having held Matusalem Oloroso Sherry for over 30 years which enriches the unique Dalmore signature chocolate and orange flavours with a rich and nutty twist.

The distillery welcomes guests to enjoy an intimate tour from £12 per person where you can discover their Single Malt whiskey which they have been crafting since 1839.

Next on our list for the day is the world famous Glenmorangie Distillery, set amongst the barley fields and founded by William Matheson in 1843 who had the vision to create a single malt whisky from just water, barley and yeast. Matured in the finest casks perfected by The Men of Tain, this whisky is incredibly smooth and complex and very popular.

Enjoy your time at the distillery to the fullest by booking a night at Glenmorangie House so you don’t need to worry about a designated driver.

Also keep an eye out for their ‘Whiskey Weekends’ where you can enjoy a two-night stay at Glenmorangie House, a tour of the distillery, the opportunity to sample blends and malts as well as enjoy expert guidance on how to taste.

Distance: Approx 28 miles
Places to Stay:

Glenmorangie Whisky Tastings – Image by Glenmorangie

Day 3: Tain to Brora

This short drive will take you off the beaten track and through beautiful hamlets and villages.

Although not yet open to the public, keep an eye out for the opening of Toulvaddie Distillery, which will become the first Scotch Whiskey distillery founded by a women in almost 200 years.

Your first whisky stop today is the Balblair Distillery, founded in 1790 by John Ross it sits on a remote and unspoiled hillside near Dornoch Firth and is one of the oldest and most picturesque distilleries in the world. Offering quality over quantity, the creators at Balblair don’t like to rush or over produce to ensure that the taste the best it can be with the use of finest ingredients and traditional processes.

When there are no restrictions tours are available, however to stay within Covid-19 guidelines the distillery is offering a limited guided masterclass which allows you to experience the Balblair core collection.

Next on route is one of the Four Corners distilleries of Johnnie Walker, the Clynelish Distillery & Visitors Centre who have received a prestigious gold certification from Green Tourism for sustainable practices. Old pumps and motors have been replaced with new, energy efficient equipment. Join the Clynelish team for a full-sensory tour culminating in a tutored whisky tasting of drams while admiring the coastal Sutherland landscape.

Distance: Approx 25 miles

Places to Stay:

Balblair Distillery – Image courtesy of Balblair

Day 4: Brora to Thurso

Just before you get to Wick stop off for a leg stretch at Camster Cairns. Originally built more than 5000 years ago, this pair of Neolithic tombs provide a fascinating insight into Neolithic funeral practices.

30 minutes from Wick there’s an excellent spot to enjoy a long lunch, Captains Galley In Scrabster – one of the worlds leading seafood restaurants. Jim and Mary Cowie are focused on serving seasonal, sustainable and creative seafood dishes in a simple and delicious way.

Your drink stop of the day is Dunnet Bay Distillers, who create gins and vodka’s inspired by Caithness‘ people as well as its unique culture and natural heritage based on its five core values of authenticity, sustainability, flavour, tradition and innovation.

Distance: Approx 82 miles

Places to Stay:

Dunnet Bay Distillers – Image by Kenny Lam courtesy of VisitScotland

Day 5: Thurso to Scourie

Enjoy a well deserved rest this morning, a wholesome day of sightseeing lies ahead and a break from the booze.

Having said this, our first stop is the Tongue Hotel and Restaurant where you can stop for a spot of lunch. They take great pride in ensuring that all their ingredients are locally sourced.

This afternoon make sure you stop at Smoo Caves, just outside of Durness, a stunning and dramatic sea cave in the limestone cliffs of Sutherland. At 50ft high, it has one of the largest entrances of any sea cave in Britain and can be explored by boat or path from the car park up on the cliffs.

A absolute must stop for a little afternoon treat is Cocoa Mountain chocolate shop, one of the most remote luxury chocolatier which has garnered international fame. Set up by two university graduates in an old sergeants mess in an old RAF Cold War camp, they experimented with around 100 truffle recipes before setting on a range of 25 amongst which are exotic flavours such as peanut butter and cranberry, chilli and lemongrass and ginger and cinnamon. The hot chocolate is also a must try!

Distance: Approx. 96 miles

Places to Stay:

Smoo Caves – Image by Paul Tomkins courtesy of VisitScotland

Day 6: Scourie to Torridon

Pack up the truck and drive the 98 miles to Kinlochewe for a day exploring the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, Britains first national nature reserve. With multiple walking trails to choose from through ancient pine forests, along the shores of Loch Maree and Glen Torridon with golden eagles soaring over head and a diverse array of wildlife around you.

For dinner we highly recommend the fine dining 1887 restaurant or sit by the crackling fire in the more relaxed Bo & Muc at the renowned Torridon Hotel. With a Whisky Bar stocked with 365 malts and 120 gins including their own Arcturus gin, we highly recommend treating yourself to a night in one of their luxurious and elegant bedrooms.

Set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a magnificent sea loch, The Torridon has one of the most spectacular and idyllic locations in the country.

Distance: 108 miles

Places to Stay:

The Torridon Hotel – Image courtesy of Torridon Hotel

Day 7: Torridon to Inverness

Its your last day on our whisky tour and we have one more distillery for you to explore.

On the outskirts of Muir of Ord on the edge of the Black Isle is a hidden treasure of Scottish hospitality in the Glen Ord Distillery. With a wide range of tours available and being only 35 minutes from Inverness Airport its the perfect last stop before dropping your Highlands Overland truck back to us.

Distance: Approx 62 miles

Remember to enjoy the distilleries responsibly.

If you are the designated driver ensure you know your limits and read up on Scotlands drink driving laws


Kinlochewe With Loch Maree Behind – Image by Kenny Lam courtesy of VisitScotland