Tucked into the peaty, water-drenched landscape of Speyside, Scotland’s famous whisky region, Cardhu Distillery opened in 1811 and was the brainchild of whisky smuggler John Cumming and his wife Helen, one of the country’s very few female distillers. They operated illicitly for several years and it is thought the distillery was built on this exposed spot on Mannoch Hill so approaching strangers would be spotted; it is also close to crystal spring waters that feed into the River Spey. One of the highlights of the celebrated self-drive Malt Whisky Trail, the current distillery was built in 1884; nine years later the company was sold to Johnnie Walker and to this day their blended whiskies are produced using Cardhu (the name means ‘black rock’ in Gaelic) malts. Housed in a stone complex with distinctive pagoda-shaped roofs, and updated in the 1970s when more copper stills were introduced, Cardhu is famous for its range of award-winning single malts with a smooth taste attributed to years of maturing in oak casks. A visitor center was added in 1988, with fine views across to Ben Rinnes.
As well as guided tours, Cardhu Distillery is open for tastings of various single malts and Johnnie Walker blended whiskies, all of which can be bought in the gift shop.
Knockando, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 7RY. Open Jan–Mar,
Oct–Dec Mon–Fri 10am–3pm; Apr Mon–Fri 10am–5pm; May Mon–Sat 10am–5pm; Jun–Sept Mon–Thur, Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 11am–4pm. Tour prices start at £5. Guided tours should be booked in advance; there are none in October due to annual maintenance although the shop remains open. Best accessed by car; the journey takes 1.5 hours from Inverness along the A96 and the A941.