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7 Great Places to Enjoy a Dram in Scotland

The experience of enjoying a whisky for some aficionados takes on the importance of an almost religious ritual. They have a favourite glass they have to drink out of no matter what, or an exact amount of water they must add, or an armchair they long to be reclining in. For me where you are and what you are doing is definitely all part of the experience of drinking whisky too, though why limit yourself to one place?

With that in mind, I’ve had a think tonight, over a dram of course, about where my favourite places in Scotland to drink whisky are. I’ve put together a handy list for you so you can try some of them for yourself. We’ll discover together everything from places you might expect like a bar, through to some surprises like a ferry journey to the isles and even a whole island that positively reeks of whisky. All that is left for me to do now is let you read on after wishing you a hearty Slàinte wherever you are reading this!

Scarista Beach on Harris Outer HebridesScarista Beach on Harris, Outer Hebrides

  1. A Beach on Harris – As a travel writer I’ve visited over 100 countries and hand on tartan heart for me the finest beaches you’ll find are right here in Scotland. And the best of the best lie on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Harris. Savour a dram on a beach on the west side of the island and it will often be just you, the seals and the seabirds sitting by the Atlantic. The Americas lie on the other side of the expanse of the Atlantic and it really feels like you are gazing out on the very edge of the world.

    Robin on Bowmore

    A dram on Scotland's Whisky Isle, Bowmore

  2. On Scotland’s Whisky isle – Yes some other isles have a distillery. Some like Orkney and Arran even boast two, but nowhere holds a candle to the remarkable island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides. This bijou gem reeks of the water of life with eight established distilleries to choose from and another flurry of new arrivals in the offing. I like Bowmore in the island capital of Bowmore itself. I remember hearing how the distillery production helps power the local swimming pool so it feels very much part of the village and community. There are cosy pubs dotted around town where you can try a wee dram. Or you can head off on a tour or tasting at the distillery and enjoy sea views to go with your chosen expression.

    Quaich BarThe Quaich Bar at the famous Craigellachie Hotel

  3. In a Bar – Bars are integral to Scottish social culture and whisky is integral to Scottish bars, so this is a natural environment for imbibing a wee dram. You can read my Clydeside Distillery blog about the best whisky bars in Glasgow My favourite whisky bar in Scotland, though, lies further north in the Highland whisky country of Speyside. The Quaich Bar at the famous Craigellachie Hotel is a stunner. It enjoys a spectacular setting for trying an entry-level whisky or one of the extremely rare whiskies that are kept under lock and key!

    Calmac FerryCruising on a CalMac Ferry

  4. On a CalMac Ferry – There is something thrillingly romantic about hopping aboard a ferry bound for the Scottish isles. Cruise to Arran, Skye, Harris, Mull and Islay and you may even snatch sight of a distillery on the way over. Most ferries have a wee café or bar where you can snare a fine single malt and then watch out for dolphins and whales as you savour the very taste of Scotland.

    Robin at AmberEnjoying a dram in Amber Restaurant at Scotch Whisky Experience 

  5. In a Whisky Restaurant – You may wonder if such a thing exists. Well, the good news is that it does. Sort of. I’m thinking of Amber at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. Here you can try a few drams at their bar after taking their brilliantly fun tour. Then the food comes with suggested matching Scottish whiskies. Another capital option is the Scottish Whisky Society. Their Queen Street oasis is open to the public so you can eat at the excellent The Dining Room. Here creative modern Scottish cuisine accompanies the superb malt whiskies.

    Robin up a HillPeering Down at Loch Lomond from the Ptarmigan Ridge on Ben Lomond

  6. Mountain Whisky – Ok, so a serious caveat here. I’m NOT advocating getting drunk up a mountain. I mean just enjoying a dram with a few friends after you have been up a Scottish mountain and are back safe and sound. For me, there are few more Scottish experiences than yomping up a rugged hill and then chomping on shortbread atop while you survey the epic landscape of glens, lochs and haunting castles, before skipping back down.

    dreaming of that cosy dram.

    Robin1Enjyoing a dram in the Clydeside Distillery cafe

  7. Clydeside Distillery – Of course, this oasis has to be in here and the brand spanking new city distillery well deserves its place on the list. You can try a range of whiskies on one of their excellent tours – click here to read about my take on the distillery tour experience. Or you can choose to enjoy your dram in their excellent wee café. Here Scottish cheese and smoked salmon make the perfect accompaniment to your hallowed dram.

* We advocate responsible drinking and here that includes checking with any current local laws regarding consuming alcohol in public. Note that regulations can vary across the country and are subject to change.