A trail of two distilleries

By Colin Hogarth

Walkers spend plenty of their time wandering alongside burns, or skirting sweeping fields of barley, so it makes a pleasant change to combine the two and enjoy a product the pair play a large hand in creating - whisky.

On this route, you pass not one distillery, but two - Scotland's smallest at Edradour and one of the country's oldest, Blair Athol in Pitlochry. Both do a guided tour complete with free dram. Aside from a chance to sample one of life's little pleasures, the route boasts a perky waterfall and fine views to one of Perthshire's most popular peaks, Ben Vrackie.

From the car park at the start, follow a yellow waymarker for the Edradour walk, the track skirting the edge of a golf course before bearing right at a junction to rise through the trees to a wooden viewing platform above the Black Spout waterfall, an impressive tail of whitewater dropping around 60 metres.

It continues up through tall oak trees, following the Edradour Burn. Stay with the yellow waymarkers and signs for Edradour and the path emerges at the top of the woodland where it continues between trees on the right and open fields to the left, a wonderful view opening out to Ben Vrackie.

Passing by a cottage in due course, it arrives in the tiny hamlet of Milton of Edradour. Here you'll find one of the area's most popular tourist attractions, Edradour Distillery. A cluster of crisp white buildings with doors brightly painted in red, it is not only Scotland's most petite distillery, but, nestling alongside the bubbling Edradour Burn, one of the most picturesque.

Malt whisky has been distilled here since 1825 and it's one of the last distilleries in Scotland to produce a handcrafted malt in limited quantities, turning out around a dozen casks a week. There's a guided tour where visitors can view traditional whisky making techniques en route to the all important free dram.

From the distillery, follow the road north out of Milton of Edradour. It climbs for a short way before flattening out to run through open fields with views over Pitlochry and the broad Tummel valley below.

Look out for a Pitlochry sign in the hedgerow and when you reach this, leave the road on the left and a path, hemmed in by fences on both sides, descends past the grounds of Edradour House and Edradour School on the right.

Lower down, it joins a track where you turn left, following another sign for Pitlochry. This leads down to Black Spout Wood, entering the trees just beyond a metal gate.

Follow the yellow waymarkers down through the forest and in due course cross the Kinnaird Burn at a wooden footbridge. Then turn left and stay on the main path, running parallel to the stream, until it emerges at a single track road.

Turn left and follow this down to join the A924. At the main road, turn left, passing under the railway line and by the charming Holy Trinity Church, and soon you'll reach Blair Athol distillery.

It is a complete contrast to tiny Edradour. The basic whisky-making process is of course the same, but Blair Athol produces much larger quantities. Taking water from the Allt Dour burn, it is home to the eight-year-old Bell's Extra Special. From the distillery, it's a brisk walk along the main road east, arriving back at the Black Spout Wood car park.


Distance 3 miles/5km.
Map OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 52.
Start/parking Black Spout Wood car park, Pitlochry (grid ref NN 952574).
Grading An easy walk through woodland and farmland with good paths throughout, although these can be muddy in places.
Distillery info Edradour Distillery (Tel 01796 472095) is open seven days a week from March to the end of October and Mon-Sat from November to mid-December. Blair Athol Distillery (Tel 01796 482003) is open seven days from Easter to September and Mon-Fri from October to Easter with restricted opening hours from November to February.


viewtomoulin.jpg (66803 bytes)
edradourdistillery1.jpg (125813 bytes)
twodistilleriesmap copy.jpg (303037 bytes)