Melissa York samples the scotch on St Andrew’s Day in the Highlands
The Craigellachie, Speyside, Scotland
The weekend: You’ve missed Saint Andrew’s Day and Hogmanay, but there’s one more Scottish winter festival to go. Burns Night is coming up on Thursday, and what better way to honour Rabbie than by heading up to the Highlands for a weekend of shooting and fine Scotch.
Where? There are Highland hotels and then there are Highland hotels that have birthed their own whisky brand. The Craigellachie, a favourite of Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher and Sadie Frost, is just the right mixture of rustic charm and modern boutique hotel. Afternoon tea is served daily in the drawing room by roaring fires, but Hunter wellies are also lined up next to the door for city types who may have “forgotten” the appropriate footwear.
Sorry, what did you say about whisky? The 26-room hotel is the home of Copper Dog, a blended whisky that’s named after the metal tubes used to smuggle drams out in the 17th and 18th century. If you want to learn more about it, seek out Cragganmore Distillery, which boasts rare flat-topped stills, for a tour.
It’s cold, do I have to go out? No, simply pop next door to Copper Dog, the hotel’s in-house pub. Serving up fare from the local area and live music most nights of the week, it’ll make you worryingly reluctant to explore the stunning landscape. The Quaich bar, also in the hotel, hosts over 900 whisky varieties as well. You should really go out though.
Why? Johnston’s of Elgin is a half hour drive up the road and it offers fascinating free tours of its centuries old mill. There’s also a criminally cheap sale of its cashmere and wool goods once a year. Also less than half an hour away is House of Mulben, which specialises in arranging bespoke clay pigeon shooting, archery and off-road group adventures.
Need to know: Room rates at The Craigellachie (thecraighellachie.co.uk) start from £119 a night including breakfast. Call 01343 554088 to find out more about tours and sales at Johnston’s of Elgin (johnstonscashmere.com) and 01542 860207 for House of Mulben (houseofmulben.com).