By: Blonde Two
Looking back through the Blonde archives, it’s clear to me that whisky and Scotland have featured in a fair few of our adventures. Walking of course, has featured in almost all of our eleven years of blogging.
So it makes sense we should be asked to review a book with the title, ‘Whisky Walks Scotland‘.
- There was the time I serendipitously booked a cottage so close to the Glenfiddich distillery Mr B2 and I could taste whisky in the air.
- There was the time I had a tour of the first Dartmoor Distillery before it even started distilling.
- And there was the time B1 found herself wading through treacle on Ben Chonzie.
But back to Whisky Walks Scotland.
A reason to go for a walk
If you love walking for its own sake, it’s relatively easy to persuade yourself to leave the house. But if you or your family are not that way inclined, having a purpose behind your walk can help you make that armchair-leaving decision.
For example, visiting a whisky distillery.
I have a list of things I love about Scotland, it is long but walking and whisky are definitely near the top.
This book combines the two so I was immediately interested.
Because each walk is based near or from one of Scotland’s smaller distilleries, Whisky Walks Scotland covers routes that other walking guide books might not. This appeals to me as I love the idea of exploring quieter, lesser known places. If you fancy finding yourself in a little known cave or up a hill you’ve never heard of, this could be the book for you.
Especially if you fancy a wee dram when you get back to base.
On opening the book, I was pleased to find I had already completed at least one walk (Ben Rinnes) myself, but there were plenty I hadn’t previously considered. With 41 tried-and-tested routes to choose from (including the Outer Hebrides), this book would make a good hook for a tour-of-Scotland with a difference. It would be equally useful for day adventures if you were staying in one of the more distillery-populated areas, for example Kintyre or Speyside.
It’s perhaps not a book for the traditionalist.
One thing I noticed as soon as I opened Whisky Walks Scotland was its fun, modern approach to design. As someone used to more traditional walking guide books, which can sometimes be a bit methodical, this was a pleasant surprise.
Helvetiq are obviously a publisher with a clear idea of their audience requirements. Instead of over-detailed step-by-step instructions they’ve gone for snappy turn-by-turn directions accompanied by a short description. Instead of detailed printed maps, they’ve chosen downloadable gpx files to be used with the walker’s favourite route app.
I initially found the lack of printed map detail difficult.
But it’s important to remember here that a significant portion of walkers now use electronic mapping for at least some part of their walk and walk planning. And that many route-planning apps (my preference here in the UK would always be the OS Maps app) allow you to print copies of routes as and when you need them.
Whether you use them for following a trace on a mobile device, planning a route before setting off, or for emergency situations, digital maps are here to stay.
Even for people like me who love a traditional map and compass.
Let me start by saying I had no idea there were so many small distilleries in Scotland. Don’t get me wrong, I love a single malt in front of the fire as much as the next girl but up until now, my favourites have been mostly from larger distilleries.
Whisky Walks Scotland has certainly opened my eyes in that direction. I’ve been on distillery tours and loved them but the thought of supporting smaller local distilleries as I explore Scotland really appeals.
In other words, this book has earned a place on my campervan-Scotland packing list!
For each distillery the author has included a recommended whisky alongside a handy (and simple for amateurs like me) profile that includes colour, nose and taste, as well as the barrel or cask each whisky is aged in (I know enough about whisky to understand how important that is!)
There’s also a concise description of each distillery that describes visitor experience, production details and practicalities in a friendly, easy-to-read few paragraphs.
I find this level of simplicity far more encouraging than more pompous whisky guides.
A walking book to recommend?
If you’re looking for a walking book to guide you safely over treacherous terrain and up windy mountains, Whisky Walks Scotland probably isn’t it. But if, on the other hand, you’re after a really fun trip to Scotland that supports the local economy, and gets you off your usual track, I think this book would do the job very nicely.
Whether you’re a walker who loves a drop of whisky, or a whisky lover who recognises the benefits of a good walk, Whisky Walks Scotland offers a fun way to visit what has to be one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.
After all, nobody minds the wind and rain if there’s a warm fire and a glass of the good stuff at the end of it!
PS I’ll be heading up to Scotland myself over Christmas. I’ll let you know how the book and I get on!