The second part of our Scotland trip began with a bit of travel. Thankfully, we had our driver Bob, which meant we could spend the ride playing games of rock paper scissors and having thumb wars.
We started the morning at the Culloden Battlefield, the site of the Jacobite Rising. The battlefield has been preserved and the museum created by the National Trust is incredibly informative. As we walked through, there were museum guides showcasing traditional weaponry (even the kids got to hold the swords!) and films depicting the event.
My cousins loved running down the paths of the battlefield, going from one side to the other. However, if you’re going to visit, definitely bring a pair of rain boots. The grounds can get very soggy. Furthermore, you have to check out the top of the museum at Culloden. The space is utilized as a beautiful rooftop garden and you get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield.
After Culloden Battlefield, we traveled on to Cawdor Castle, also known as the Macbeth Castle. We didn’t tour the inside, however the gardens on the grounds are extensive and there is a set of nature trails that leads down to a river. I was consistently surprised at the number of wild roses growing in Scotland. It seemed like they were growing everywhere we stopped.
We had an afternoon reservation for a tour at the Macallan Distillery, so after a quick lunch outside Cawdor Castle we continued a bit further north. The distillery recently went through a huge renovation (we’re talking 140 million pounds) and the space is astounding. It was so neat to see the process of how Scotch is made and hear about all the regulations the distillery must follow, seeing as the Macallan Distillery was one of the first distilleries to be licensed in Scotland.
I felt like the Macallan tour was incredibly informative. There were videos and moving parts and our guide was quite personal. It was nice to go around with a smaller group of people to see the stills and process first hand. The various casks were displayed and you could actually smell the notes of the American versus the European. I was also very impressed that Macallan doesn’t use any artificial color in their whiskies.
The tour ended at the tasting room which was an incredible space itself. It was hard to capture in a photograph how the barrels hung floor to ceiling all around. Our guide shared that the room itself is ensured for close to 15 million.
After tasting some amazing scotch, we traveled back to Inverness and into the city for dinner. Our driver suggested a little pub called Hootenanny for food and live music. If you’re ever in the area, you have to go and order their sticky toffee pudding. We tried many puddings throughout the UK and all agreed, this was the best.
One of the ways we planned our trip was by selecting one attraction and finding places along the way that were worth stopping and visiting. I found this hugely beneficial, especially because some of the places we wanted to see were farther away. If you have the opportunity, driving really is the best option to see as many things as possible.