6 Of the World's Most Unique Whiskey Experiences

These one-of-a-kind whiskey tastings can be reached by sea, rail, hike, and more.

Spirit of the Spey's whisky tasting canoeing adventure

Courtesy of Spirit of the Spey

Whether you enjoy your whiskey with or without an ‘e’, everyone can agree that the world’s fascination with the spirit continues to grow. Whiskey connoisseurs are seeking out ways to expand their knowledge; from planning distillery pilgrimages to staying at distillery hotels, there are new and exciting ways to interact with whiskey producers. Previously confined to a room at the distillery, whiskey tastings have grown into their own experiences beyond the maker’s walls. From the desert to the rails to the river, here are some of the world’s most unique whiskey tastings. 

A Toast to the Giants

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Ruben Earth / Getty Images

What happens when you combine a geological wonder with the world’s oldest licensed distillery? You get an unforgettable Bushmills tasting on the shores of Northern Ireland at the Giant’s Causeway. The tasting tour can be booked onsite at the Causeway and includes two guides; a National Trust tour guide will take you down to the rocks, sharing background on the history and myths of the area. A Bushmills guide will then explain the history and processes of the distillery, before perching on the Causeway rocks for the tasting. Enjoy tasting the 12-year-old Distillery Reserve, available only on-site at Bushmills; guests receive a mini-bottle to take home with them. 

Michelin Dining in the Distillery

Whisky tasting and snacks at The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant

Marc Millar Photography

Scotland’s oldest working distillery, The Glenturret, is worth a visit on its own. But why settle for just the distillery when you can pair their award-winning Scotch with award-winning cuisine? In 2019, The Glenturret was bought by The Lalique Group, who created a one-of-a-kind dining experience located at the distillery, The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant. Book one of the whisky flights at the LALIQUE Bar, which offers access to rare and exclusive whiskies, such as The Glenturret 30YO 2020 Maiden Release and the 30YO 2022 Release and a rotating flight pulled from Glenturret’s archives. Pair your selections with a menu of small dish snacks chosen by the Glenturret team to complement your whisky tasting, or have lunch prepared by the Michelin-starred restaurant. Carry into the evening at one of the restaurant’s six tables for an exquisite multi-course menu overlooking the River Turret. 

Tastings on the Rails

There are several types of whiskey being crafted in America, including rye whiskey and single malt, but the biggest one by far is bourbon. While there are plenty of bourbon trails to follow in Kentucky, try hopping aboard the vintage 1940’s dining cars of My Old Kentucky Dinner Train’s Bourbon Excursion. Before setting off on the 2 ½ hour ride that cuts through central Kentucky, check out the depot bar that houses 35 types of bourbon. Once aboard, patrons can take in the sights of the countryside (including a pass by the Jim Beam distillery) while learning about bourbon’s history and process. The journey includes a four-course dinner with a bourbon pairing guided by a master distiller. 

Canoe in Speyside

Spirit of the Spey's whisky tasting canoeing adventure

Courtesy of Spirit of the Spey

Scotland has five whisky regions with one, Speyside, set in the northeast of the country. Accounting for more than 60% of Scotland’s single malts, Speyside hasK the highest density of distilleries nationwide, and a canoe journey down the River Spey is one of the best ways to learn about the region’s top producers. Spirit of the Spey offers a multi-day canoeing adventure through Strathspey, where guests can  enjoy paddling through 75 miles of Scotland’s idyllic landscape while stopping off for whisky tastings along the way. The trip includes stops at  several distilleries, including Cragganmore, Cardhu, and Balvenie. Don’t worry, all whisky tastings taking place after the canoeing is done for the day.

Luxury in the Desert

Whiskey tastings can sometimes be run-of-the-mill but occasionally, you can find one that takes a tasting and turns it into a luxury experience. A resort in Scottsdale, Arizona may be the last place you think of when it comes to memorable whiskey tastings, but that’s only if  you haven’t been to The Scotch Library at the Westin Kierland. With hundreds of bottles to choose from (and certified Master of Scotch Guy Sporbert to guide you in that journey), the Library overlooks a rolling green golf course, and offers several unique tastings, including a Balvenie 50 year-old. Our favorite? The Library took their latest acquisition, a rare bottle of The Dalmore 45, and turned it into a Masterpiece Experience. This isn’t just a shot in a glass; the serving is  presented in a specialized kit alongside the exquisitely crafted bottle. You open the kit to find specially crafted Waterford crystal flutes with all the tasting accouterments. To gild the lily and complement the flavor profile, a large Vosges chocolate bombe covered in gold foil is served, available only for this tasting.

Sippin’ on the Slopes

End a full day of skiing in Park City, Utah with a tasting at High West,  the only North American ski-in distillery. Skiers can finish their day on the slopes at gastro-distillery Saloon (located at the bottom of Quit’n’Time ski run) by enjoying one of the whiskey flights offered that feature High West expressions. For those wishing to continue the High West experience, the distillery offers a prix-fixe whiskey pairing dinner ust two doors down at Nelson’s Cottage ––  though the skis will have to come off. 

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