Rich in peat and with excellent water quality, the Isle of Skye unsurprisingly has some great whisky. What's interesting is that there are also some great up-and-coming gin distilleries on the island too. Skye is perfect for visitors, whatever their favourite tipple!
Perhaps the best-known whisky produced on Skye is Talisker single malt, whose reputation reaches far beyond this relatively small area. The history of the Talisker brand goes back to around 1830, so it's intertwined with the history of the island itself, but somewhat surprisingly it's only been operational in its current form since 2015. This is a great distillery to visit, as the views of the Cuillins and Loch Harport are stunning. Cask tastings are available, as are standard distillery tours with a sample of the signature Talisker single malt at the end.
Torabhaig Distillery, in the south-east of Skye, is comparatively young, fed by two local burns and housed in recently restored farm buildings, production has been underway here since 2017, and whilst the first casks are only just starting to be ready, it's clear that the team are in it for the long haul. There's a 45-minute standard tour on offer here if you'd like to visit the distillery.
Also found on the Sleat peninsula not far from Torabhaig is Praban Na Linne, the Gaelic Whisky Company. Aptly situated close to the island's famous Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, you can visit these guys in their beautiful surroundings and test their theory that 'whisky tastes better in Gaelic'. They produce three whiskies, periodic special editions, and a small-batch citrussy gin as well.
As we've moved on to gin, the next must-visit place for spirit lovers is the Isle of Skye Distillers in Portree, producers of Misty Isle gin. Whilst the distillery is located on the grounds of the founding family's home and does not offer tours there's an excellent shop and the classroom for the 'gin school' distilling class located in Portree. Brothers Thomas and Alistair Wilson have a real passion for their craft - they know everything there is to know about the behaviour of botanicals, how they interact and how to get the best out of them, which they generously impart in their three-hour 'distill your own' gin classes. The brothers constantly experiment with flavour, which leads to regular releases and special editions to mark memorable occasions, such as a pumpkin-spiced gin for Halloween, a mulled gin for Christmas, an excellent raspberry-infused pink gin, and a poppy seed gin produced in memory of the founder's father, a soldier. They've recently branched out into vodka too, and they're already winning awards - so watch this space!
Whilst not technically on Skye, no article on Skye spirits is complete without mentioning the exciting new distillery on the neighbouring Isle of Raasay. Architecturally stunning and already making waves in the world of Scottish whisky and gin despite its young age (the first batch of whisky was only released in 2020), this is definitely somewhere to put on your list to visit. Proudly announcing itself as the 'first legal distillery' on Raasay (after centuries of illicit production), Raasay Distillery burst onto the scene a couple of years ago and hasn't looked back. Just a 25-minute hop on the ferry from Skye, it's easier to access than you might think, and has accommodation in case you want to stay and explore the island as well as enjoying a dram or two.