Scotland and whisky just go together so well but if you’re short on time you might not have the capacity to explore the Highlands and Islands that are famed for having LOTS of distilleries.
So if you’re based in the capital, and want to visit some whisky distilleries near Edinburgh what are your choices?
This part of Scotland is where I grew up and it’s very easy to get around here with good roads, so even if you have to explore beyond Edinburgh you can do so easily.
Even though this isn’t classic whisky country you still have so much to explore, and as any whisky lover knows the different water and land around the distillery is what can change the taste. So let’s try something a bit different!
These tours are based around the south of Scotland near Edinburgh, down to the Borders and up as far as Perthshire. Of course, there’s a lot more to discover if whisky is your passion, especially in the Highlands and near Inverness.
Whisky tours from Edinburgh
You might be visiting Scotland and not have transport to get you around – if so a whisky tour from Edinburgh city centre might be just the thing to explore further afield, be able to enjoy a wee dram and get someone else to do the driving!
Are these tours good for families?
We have, in the past, taken our kids on these tours and have found them really educational for them. Not all tours will accept children, some will have a reduced price (as they’ll not get the taster), some will let them visit for free. If they are allowed it’s almost always on the basic tours, not more specialised ones.
If you have kids it’s always worth checking beforehand that you can bring them along.
Scotch, whiskey, whisky or whiskie? Which is right?
The proper Scottish term is whisky without the ‘e’. If the ‘e’ is present then it’s likely to be an Irish spirit.
9 Whisky Distilleries and Tours near Edinburgh
Some of these tours are in the city of Edinburgh itself and so perfect if you’re just visiting the capital and have no time to explore.
Others are a short drive away – I’ve kept the distance to under 2 hours drive away from Edinburgh which is perfect for a day trip to explore some other parts of Scotland. One is in Scotland’s other great city, Glasgow, and can be reached by train easily.
If you need to rent a car to get to some of these sites then I recommend checking out Discover Cars.
Scotch Whisky Experience
Location: Royal Mile, Edinburgh Old Town
The Scotch Whisky Experience is located on the Royal Mile and is, essentially, a tourist attraction based around the drink rather than a distillery itself. It doesn’t make whisky here but you can do some tours and learn about the drink, it’s history and how it’s made.
They do a number of tours and experiences including having a restaurant where you can combine a meal with tasting whisky.
There’s also an impressive whisky collection that you can see which houses over 3,500 bottles of the spirit!
Tour cost: Many different tours from £19 – Get tickets here
Family friendly? The Silver Tour is the only one suitable for families
Location: Edinburgh, just south of the Royal Mile
This is a new operation in the city of Edinburgh and a good one for you if you don’t want to leave the city but do want to see a distillery. Very different from some more traditional distilleries though.
Holyrood Distillery run guided tours and if you like gin you can combine and see how that’s made there too. They also do a walking tour which takes you around the old town.
Tour cost: From £18
Family friendly? No
Johnnie Walker Princes Street
Location: Princes Street, (West end of Princes Street Gardens)
Similar to the Scotch Whisky Experience, Johnnie Walker’s is another ‘attraction’ based on whisky in the city. If you’re a fan and don’t have time to explore you can do some tastings and attend events here too.
They do some whisky tours which allow you to taste and learn about the whisky as well as some more premium experiences.
Tour Cost: From £15
Family friendly? No
Location: Pencaitland, East Lothian
Distance from Edinburgh: 16 miles
Known as the Edinburgh Malt, this is the closes distillery that isn’t in the city itself. It was founded in 1825
Glenkinchie is also a component of the Johnnie Walker label and so owned by the same company.
There’s a shop and some guided tours you can take which range from simple to more in depth showing different parts of the distillery. They also run events that are worth keeping an eye on.
Tour cost: from £19
Family friendly? yes – children aged 8 and over can go on the Glenkinchie Flavour Journey tour. Cost is £9.50 per child.
Location: Doune, Near Stirling
Distance from Edinburgh: Approx 45 miles, 1.5 hour drive
It’s another non-traditional distillery and even though the buildings date back to the 1500s (as a cotton mill) the drink has been distilled here only since the 1960s.
They run a number of tours and whisky tastings throughout the day.
Tour cost: from £15
Family friendly? Yes – children over 12 allowed on Classic and Morning Tour. Cost is £6 per child.
Distance from Edinburgh: 52 miles, 1 hour 25 min drive. Also can be reached easily by public transport.
Located in Scotland’s second city but within easy reach from Edinburgh is the Clydesdale Distillery. This is good one to consider if you don’t have your own car but want to see a distillery in action. It’s easily reached by train from Edinburgh. (I use Trainline to check times and buy tickets)
They have a cafe on site, shop and you can do a number of different tours. Some are simple and others are much more catered to whisky enthusiasts!
Tour cost: From £15
Family friendly? Yes, free for under 8s. £5 for 8-17 year olds
Location: Kingsbarns, Fife. Just south of St Andrews
Distance from Edinburgh: 55 miles – 1 and 3/4 hour drive
This is probably the furthest whisky distillery from Edinburgh on this page but could be worth adding in to a day out to discover St Andrews or the delights of Fife (where I grew up!). You’ll also see the Forth Bridges on the way which is always a highlight!
Kingsbarns Distillery runs some different tours that will either introduce you to how Scotch Whisky is made or tutor you in more in depth tasting. There’s also a shop for buying souvenirs at the end.
Tour cost: From £12
Family friendly? Yes – it’s £4 for 8-17 year olds. Over 8s only.
The Borders Distillery
Location: Hawick, in Scottish Borders
Distance from Edinburgh: 56 miles, just over 1 and a half hours drive
The Borders Distillery is another fairly new operation, although whisky had been made in the area in the past, this is the first one since 1837.
The Scottish Borders is a wonderful place to explore and is so different to much of Scotland – definitely recommended. If you like history I can suggest the Borders Abbeys alongside the distillery!
Tour cost: £15
Family friendly? Yes, children free to come on a tour accompanied by an adult
The Glenturret Distillery
Location: Near Crieff, Perthshire
Distance from Edinburgh: 55 miles, just over 1 and a half hours drive
Finally we head a little north into Perthshire and to the Glenturret Distillery, one of those more traditional types!
Glenturret is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland having been founded in 1763.
This is a great one for those who are looking to find special reserves of whisky to bring back as souvenirs. They have a shop with all manner of spirits to suit all budgets. And if you’ve done a tour you’ll get a £5 voucher to spend there.
They do a few different tours from a basic introduction one to more in depth whisky making!
Tour cost: From £15
Family friendly? Yes, 8 and under are free. 9-17 year olds are £10