Living in the Highlands you are surrounded by beauty; golden fields of barley, peaceful clear blue lochs and a small sprinkling of sunshine (if you’re lucky) for good measure. The perfect place for making whisky. Whisky will forever be intertwined with Scotland, and it’s sense of place in the Highlands is undeniable. With globally recognisable names such as Glenmorangie, Dalmore and Balblair all within an hour’s drive of Inverness it’s a perfect place to base yourself for a whisky indulgent trip.
Inverness itself used to have 3 working distilleries; Glen Mhor, Glen Albyn and Millburn but unfortunately they were closed in the 1980’s along with many others around Scotland. It seems criminal with the current demand for whisky that there is not a distillery in Inverness. Why did they close? At the time there was a global economic downturn, a generation turning away from the spirits of the previous two generations and a rise in the price of oil - all of which combined with a misjudgement in supply sadly meant closures were unavoidable.
Fortunately, the story takes a positive turn and the whisky industry as a whole is booming. Scotch Whisky Association reported almost 2 million visitors across Scotland’s distilleries last year, a rise of 11.4% on 2016 and a staggering 45% increase on the figure from 2010. The highest number of visitors came from Germany and the US, followed by India, China and Japan. It’s an exciting time and distilleries have stepped up their game offering world-class visitor facilities. Macallan’s new £140m distillery is taking the experience to a whole new futuristic level and Diageo are in the middle of a £150m investment in a Johnnie Walker tourist attraction in Edinburgh whilst also upgrading it’s 12 distillery visitor centres.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and, in my opinion, it’s absolutely necessary we have a place to embrace, share and enjoy one of Scotland’s finest treasures. We opened Inverness’s first whisky bar, The Malt Room, in July 2017 and it currently stocks over 250 whiskies as well as some of Scotland’s best beers and spirits. The bar is there to serve a huge cross section of visitors from all corners of the world. Fundamentally, there should be no prejudice: it’s for everyone, just like whisky.
And, let us chime in and say it is a super place to go. When visiting Inverness, be sure to pop into the Malt Rooms – the atmosphere, staff and general vibe of the place is welcoming and warm - take a look at their website and plan your visit soon!