Historic sites, grand museums and major attractions are all important visits while traveling, but the best way to experience a new destination may very well be by enjoying what’s in your glass. What’s more evocative than a fantastic dram of whiskey reflecting its place of origin, made with intention by local producers who have immense dedication to their craft? The good news is that a growing collection of properties, ranging from high-end city hotels to luxurious remote escapes, are offering whiskey-centric travel experiences for such spirituous adventurers as ourselves.
From obvious spirits-soaked jump-off points — we’re looking at you, Louisville and the Scottish countryside — to a few unexpected whiskey way-stations around the world, book your next luxe stay with an excellent dram or two in mind.
9 Luxury Whiskey Escapes Around the World
Adare Manor, Ireland
When you’re staying at an impossibly lavish Irish castle originally built in the 1700s, set on a pristine 842-acre estate, there’s no time or place for bottom-shelf booze. Fear not, Adare Manor has you covered. Head down to the castle’s Tack Room, a semi-hidden basement bar with a deep selection of whiskey, a thematic cocktail menu recently focused on the mysterious beasts of Irish lore, and best of all, an in-house whiskey ambassador, Tommie Doyle.
He wields an eclectic, rare collection of Irish whiskey spanning its many styles and eras. Perhaps you’ll try the house single cask of Midleton Very Rare, or one of many hard to find, independent bottlings in unique cask finishes. Your personal guide will showcase you through the lineup, build you a custom flight and talk you through the history of Irish whiskey production. You’ll leave feeling like you’re the lord of the manor, especially after sleeping it off in your posh castle accommodations.
Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland
If you’re staying at Gleneagles, you likely have golf on the brain. But you can’t stay out on the links all day and night, can you? There are plenty of other diversions at the immersive five-star property, and Scotch is at the forefront. Daily whisky tastings are offered at the hotel’s The American Bar, a guided experience featuring five single malts from different regions of production. You’ll learn about the geography and flavor range of Scotch, and feel confident enough to head on over to The Century Bar to continue your studies on your own. There, you’ll find over 200 Scotch whiskies on offer, as well as a number of specialty flights to try.
Now that you’ve gotten your diploma, it’s time to advance to the next level of education with a distillery tour. Gleneagles has a partnership with The Glenturret distillery and the property can arrange for a private tour culminating with a tasting of its range. Once back in the comfortable confines of the hotel, order up a taste of the Glenturret 2022 Limited Release, an exclusive offering made for Gleneagles.
Hotel Distil — Autograph Collection, Louisville
Few places in the world put you within arm’s reach of as much whiskey as Louisville, and Hotel Distil, right along its famed Whiskey Row, is a bourbon lover’s paradise. The Autograph Collection property celebrates the state’s beloved bourbon in a number of different ways, starting with a toast to the repeal of Prohibition, held nightly at 7:33pm, in honor of 1933’s Repeal Day. A different cocktail or bourbon is offered up on the house every night, with guests receiving a “prescription card” at check-in to take advantage of the offering.
There are certified in-house bourbon ambassadors to help you continue your journey from there, and they’ll come in handy as you navigate the bar’s selection of more than 200 whiskeys. Meanwhile, should you opt for one of the hotel’s Connoisseur Suites, you’ll have access to an in-room bourbon cart loaded with 10 premium bottles, as well as a selection of batched cocktails made with the hotel’s private single barrel picks and house-made bitters.
Aurora Fjord Cabins, Norway
Take things a bit farther afield with a stay at the Aurora Fjord Cabins in Lyngseidet, Norway. It’s a dream destination for taking advantage of the property’s namesake Northern Lights, along with all of the best of the surrounding Arctic wonderland, with accommodations in the form of cozy cabins with sweeping views.
But, of course, we’re here talking whisky, and in this case, there’s the northernmost whisky distillery on the planet. Aurora Spirit will be right at your doorstep and you can book a number of different tour and tasting experiences. These range in duration and scope, culminating in the Founder’s Experience, a two-hour tasting featuring pours of their finest offerings. Bring a bottle back to your cabin and enjoy it in your private hot tub, soaking up the surroundings with an entirely inimitable experience the world over.
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The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
The best and most luxurious address in Dublin is undoubtedly The Merrion. It gets no better. The gilded property is packed full with a comprehensive, museum-worthy collection of Irish art, but that’s not the only way for you to interact with Irish culture.
Rooms include open-access decanters filled with Redbreast 12 year old, a fine example of single pot still Irish whiskey. You’ll find a sheet of tasting notes to help encourage you on your sampling path. Relish a dram or two from your charming abode, then continue onto No. 23, a private club-style cocktail bar and spirit lounge. You’ll be able to order from a comprehensive collection of Irish whiskey or sample from the innovative cocktail menu.
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, Virgina
From Dublin and Scotland, to Louisville and another one of the world’s best known whiskey hubs, Tysons Corner, Virginia? Well, Virginia is home to some of the country’s finest craft distilleries, and The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, has partnered with one of the state’s mainstays for a unique regional experience.
Book the Catoctin Creek package at the hotel, and your stay will include a trip to the distillery’s Purcellville distillery and tasting room, replete with a full tour experience. After the excursion, head back to the hotel for a seven-course whiskey dinner. Every course of the menu even incorporates whiskey in some way. Think whiskey bonbons and whiskey-infused vanilla tarts on the sweet end, and even savory dishes such as a whiskey and crab chowder, or a seared beef tenderloin flambéed with whiskey.
The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, Utah
The Lodge at Blue Sky isn’t just near a craft distillery, it has a craft distillery right on its 3,500-acre ranch. High West Distillery calls the ranch home, and you’ll be minutes away from a tour and tasting in the distillery’s scenic home base. At the hotel’s spa, you can even indulge in a whiskey massage, because nothing says relaxation like a spa treatment and a glass of whiskey at the same time.
Now you can take your whiskey experience one step further, though. The Yurt at Blue Sky is a cozy mountaintop space designed to accommodate small groups for special, one-off experiences. Think a fireside High West whiskey tasting session, optionally paired with an exclusive dinner. You can be driven up to the private perch, or you can take a guided snowshoeing or hiking excursion up to the locale. You can even be dropped there after a day of heli-skiing for an après outing like none other.
The Campbell House Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville isn’t the only Kentucky city laying claim as a heartland of bourbon. Lexington would also like to have a word, and when you’re planning a visit to the distilleries in that neck of the woods, The Campbell House Lexington is the ideal choice of accommodations. The property is dedicated to what Lexington has long since done best – horses and bourbon – and you’ll find a number of ways to partake.
When it’s whiskey o’clock, head to The Rackhouse. The bourbon bar is so loaded that it’s actually an official stop of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It showcases over 300 bourbons, with a curated lineup of 11 flights put together by the hotel’s spirits director. Among the selection you’ll also find a number of exclusive house offerings and single barrel picks.
San Ysidro Ranch, California
Montecito’s San Ysidro Ranch is a revered resort 90 minutes north of Los Angeles with a star-studded history that stretches back to the late 1800s. The gorgeous 550-acre grounds offer secluded private cottages and all manners of outdoor activities. But maybe indoors is where the action is, at least for imbibing aficionados, thanks to a 14,000-bottle wine cellar and culinary activities such as Champagne and caviar pairings.
The fun doesn’t top there, though. The ranch is one of a few establishments around the world to offer the full Balvenie Chapter 4 Collection, part of the D.C.S. Compendium, named for long-time malt master David C. Stewart. The collection is a decade-by-decade journey through Stewart’s career, topped off by a 47 year old single malt aged in an Oloroso sherry butt. The flight of five pours will set you back $5,500, but hey, it’s about the experience and the memory right?
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