Top 10 global destination distilleries
So many distilleries to visit, so little time. We’ve rounded up the top 10 we think are worth spending the air-miles on, from the totally immersive to the jaw-droppingly beautiful.
With more and more brand homes inviting consumers in for a behind-the-scenes look at their operations, it can be difficult to work out which ones you should prioritise. If you don’t have time to travel the world one distillery at a time, we recommend putting these 10 at the top of your list, and you can come back to the rest later.
The Glenturret, Scotland
As the oldest working whisky distillery in Scotland, The Glenturret’s history should be enough to tempt you to the banks of the Turret River in Perthshire for a visit, but if you do need some convincing, perhaps the promise of a Michelin-starred meal once you’re there will do the last bit of swaying.
The Glenturret is home to the Lalique restaurant, an exclusive jewel box dining room that overlooks the old still houses of the distillery and offers dishes that bring the extraordinary landscape of Scotland onto the plate. Of course, whisky is the real soup du jour, with flights served in stunning Lalique crystal are on offer, drawn from a carefully curated list of more than 400 intriguing and rare single malt expressions.
After lunch, you can then tour the distillery to see where the magic you’ve just consumed happens.
Nearest Green Distillery, Nashville, US
You can’t take a trip to Tennessee without visiting the home of one of the state’s most exciting whiskey brands. The Nearest Green Distillery is located an hour south of Nashville, and sits on a 432-acre site in the small town of Shelbyville.
For those who enjoy a bit of history, the distillery tour and tasting they offer here is not one to miss. Your tour guide will take you on a comprehensive journey through time, with an historical introduction to the distillery’s namesake, Uncle Nearest, all the way through to the story behind how the distillery and the brand behind it came to be.
After you’re done touring the grounds, you’ll have the chance to get your lips around a few whiskey samples, and then it’s time to hit the Humble Baron, which holds the record for having the longest bar in the world.
Takamaka’s Trois Frères Distillery, Seychelles
No one needs convincing to take a trip to the Seychelles, but if you’re at a loss of what to do once you’re there (aside from soaking up the sun), a visit to the Trois Frères Distillery is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. After all, what is better than sipping on award-winning rums while the sand sifts between your toes?
The Trois Frères Distillery is where brothers Bernard and Richard d’Offay produce their portfolio of premium Takamaka rums. Pay them a visit and you’ll have the chance to check out the small museum which shares some of the history of both Seychelles as well as their famous rum and heritage site La Plaine St Andre.
After completing the tour, enjoy a hosted rum tasting where the experts will give you an insight into the different styles of rums and how they are made. Don’t forget to make friends with the distillery’s resident tortoises, Taka and Maka.
The still room of Glenmorangie’s distillery is a site to behold. Famed for its extra-tall swan neck stills (which famously make them as tall as a giraffe), its definitely worth the pilgrimage to the Scottish Highlands to see this beautiful display of copper.
The tours available here run throughout the year, and are offered at a variety of prices, but it’s worth noting that the more you pay, the more samples of whisky you get to try. Once you’ve sampled enough drams, including some of the distillery’s more experimental expressions, book yourself in for a night at Glenmorangie House, the boutique guesthouse down the road that embodies the producer. There is no better way to immerse yourself in a brand than this.
Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience, Jamaica
Joy Spence is to Appleton Estate what the sun is to summer – integral. That is why the rum experience at the brand’s Jamaica-based distillery is named for the master blender, who has spent more than four decades dedicating her skills to the rums produced here.
The Appleton Estate rum experience is a one-of-a-kind sensory tour that will take you through the history of the brand and across the beautifully landscaped grounds where the rum’s journey begins in the sugar cane fields.
The distillery and ageing room are stops on the tour, and of course there’s plenty of the good stuff to sample. Then, it’s off to the air conditioned bar for some cocktails to end your visit, but there’s definitely no time limit on how long you can spend in here.
Milk & Honey Distillery, Israel
The vibrant city of Tel Aviv is the home of Milk & Honey Distillery, and somewhere crucial to visit if you’re looking for an insight into how award-winning spirits are produced in Israel.
Get all your senses involved as you immerse in the whisky-making process, and explore the distillery’s craft, charged with history and chemistry, technology and handwork.
Here, they offer a variety of tours, workshops and private events for groups of up to 35 participants by prior arrangement, so if you’ve ever fancied trying your hand at pairing whisky with cheese, or want to know ‘the secrets of the barrel room’, this is worth the journey.
Hernö Gin Hotel, Sweden
While not strictly a distillery, the Hernö Gin Hotel is an international destination for gin lovers that should top your next vacation list.
Located by the sea, close to the city of Härnösand and a 15-minute drive from the Hernö Gin distillery, the hotel spreads across nine floors, with 120 rooms, a restaurant, a cocktail bar and a conference department. It’s connected to the city baths, and comes complete with sauna and spa, all available to hotel guests.
Of course, for those looking to get geeky, a trip to the distillery isn’t out of reach, and definitely isn’t something to skip. It was the first gin distillery to open in Sweden back in 2011, and was inspired by the nature and the beauty of the surrounding area. Expect to learn the story of Hernö Gin, its products and the botanicals that are essential to the special character the brand’s portfolio.
Kyoto Distillery House of Ki No Bi, Japan
The Kyoto Distillery was due to open its first brand home in March 2020, but plans were foiled by the global pandemic which hit that month.
However, in June of that year, it eventually opened The House of Ki No Bi, a dedicated brand home for its acclaimed gin brand, believed to be Japan’s first dedicated gin distillery. It is located in the centre of the historical city of Kyoto and housed in a converted traditional ‘machiya’ townhouse, which was built more than 100 years ago as a timber mill.
The space offers a shop on the first floor, while the bar area and exhibitions can be located on the second floor. In addition there is a blending room, and the team hosts seminars for gin enthusiasts where they showcase the distillery’s philosophy and identity as a pioneer of Japanese spirits.
Four Pillars Distillery, Australia
Australia might seem far away for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, but once there, spirits lovers will feel right at home with the plethora of innovative and noteworthy brands coming out of the country. One such brand is the multi-award-winning Four Pillars, which opened its ‘green’ distillery last year.
The AU$7 million (US$5.2m) distillery is the country’s first carbon-neutral gin site, with a space comprising Jude’s Gin Garden; Beth’s bar, a crafted copper bar; events spaces; and a Four Pillars gin shop.
It was built using upcycled and recycled materials, including pineapple ‘leather’ upholstery. Furniture has been locally sourced, and solar power panels clad the roof.
The construction project has meant that the brand can produce more than one million bottles of gin a year and host between 150-200,000 visitors annually, all of whom can enjoy a range of craft-led experiences, including gin masterclasses and gin maker sessions.
The Macallan Distillery, Scotland
Tours for this distillery have been known to sell out months in advance, such is the power of this world-renowned brand.
The Macallan opened this £140m distillery in 2018, with an eyebrow-raising roof design that takes inspiration from ancient Scottish hills while ‘minimising the visual impact’ on the Speyside countryside. The undulating timber roof structure, thought to be one of the most complicated of its kind in the world, comprises 380,000 individual components.
Macallan’s is one of many experiences that can be found along Speyside’s 74-mile-long Malt Whisky Trail, but what this distillery offers is a little more on the premium side – with a price tag to match. If you’re a die-hard Macallan fan, join the Mastery Experience, which includes a five-course dinner and whisky flight which will set you back £250 (US$309) a head, or you could make the most of the brand’s partnership with Bentley Motors and opt for the chauffeured experience, priced at £5,000 (US$6186) for four guests.