*UPDATE (May 2019): Thank you for visiting this blog post! The ‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ link seems to have become void, but I have reached out to Diageo to see if there’s an updated way to join the initiative. In the mean time, I still highly recommend visiting their single malt distilleries, including the one I visited in 2017 (below).
Travelling in Scotland is one of my favourite things to do. It’s one of my happy places. But the exchange rate isn’t really ever in my favour, so I’m always on the hunt for ways to #GetThrifty – without sacrificing fun – when I’m away.
During the research phase of my recent trip with the girls, I was very excited when the marketing coordinator from one of the distilleries emailed me back with an amazing tip for our Highlands road trip path. It’s called the ‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ and it was almost like getting a golden ticket because it equals… free whisky! And who doesn’t want that? We all immediately signed up.
What Is Friends of the Classic Malts?
‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ is an initiative from the Diageo Group, who own several single malt distilleries in Scotland (along with other well-known alcohol brands). When you sign-up, you get a certificate that entitles you to free tours at the listed distilleries, and a free dram anytime you visit any and all of said distilleries, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. (Because you will want to go back to Scotland. I promise.)
How Does It Work?
At your first distillery, you get a cute ‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ passport that every distillery stamps. Get all the stamps (an ambitious feat – I still have 11 more to go!) and they will send you a quaich, which is a two-handled whisky sharing cup. Distilleries include Talisker, Oban, and Blair Athol – coincidentally, the distillery whose marketing coordinator sent me the link. It is also the distillery that we ended up stopping at on our way up to Aviemore.
Blair Athol is in the very picturesque town of Pitlochry, which I also recommend visiting. As our visit wasn’t planned, we, naturally, ended up at Blair Athol 15 minutes before closing. Seeing our distraught faces when informed that we had missed the last tour, the very kind and charming Ian took pity on us with a Cole’s Notes tour and by providing us with our passports and complimentary drams.
Moral of the Story?
If you’re going to Scotland, perhaps sign up to be a ‘Friend of the Single Malts’* (see note at the beginning of this post); just in case you end up at some of their listed distilleries. It will be worth the two minutes it takes to tap at your smartphone. In addition to the free distillery admission and drams, you can also choose to not receive the marketing emails – which is a nice bonus if trying to keep a streamlined inbox.
See Scotland. Taste the ‘water of life’ (for free!) for the rest of your life. Save money (so you can buy a nice bottle from a distillery or a nice cashmere scarf). You’re welcome.
(This is not a sponsored post. Opinions are, as always, my own.)
‘The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.” ~ Winston Churchill