Visit the Fascinating Glen Ord Whisky Distillery on a Scotland Cruise

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Many Scotland cruises include a visit to a traditional whisky distillery, which makes for a wonderful addition even if whisky is not your main tipple. These distilleries are steeped in history and a tour around one is always very informative, not to mention lots of fun. The Glen Ord Distillery is a favourite and one that is included on many Scotland cruises.


Glen Ord was founded in 1838 in the Black Isle, an area known for its rich dark loam soil (perfect for barley growing). The founder, Thomas Mackenzie, licenced the distillery to the Ord Distillery Company soon after it was constructed, but nine years later one of the new bosses was declared bankrupt and the place was given to the original partner.

After a brief period back in the Mackenzie family, the business was sold to James Watson and Son and the company continued to thrive until the barley restrictions stopped production during the First World War. Post war, the distillery passed through other hands until in 1985 when it was purchased by the current owners, United Distilleries.

Types of Whisky

  • Single Malt: This is a drink that is produced only at one distillery and is made from water, barley and yeast in copper stills. Some say it is the finest kind of whisky.
  • Single Grain: Made using maize, this whisky is often used for blending with other drinks.
  • Blended Malt: Made from the whiskies of more than one distillery, a blended malt is created to achieve a specific flavour and character.
  • Blended Grain: This is made by blending at least two different single grain whiskies.
  • Blended: Created by blending more than one single malt with more than one single grain, the blended whiskies are among some of the most popular spirits in the world.

How it’s Made

The making of whisky is an ancient art that has been refined and developed over the centuries. The people working to create this wonderful beverage are highly skilled in their craft, and when you visit on your Scotland cruise you will see exactly what we mean. In short, the ingredients of this golden nectar are water, barley, yeast and malt and the process involves malting, milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation.

When barley is turned into whisky it is first steeped and malted, which helps it germinate in a few days, rather than weeks as in the field. After this, it is cooled in drums before being milled. Milling is a process by which the malted barley is dried and rolled into a course flour known as grist.

After soaking the grist, the next step is fermentation. This occurs in ‘wash backs’, made from wood or steel. Yeast is added at this point to enable the fermentation to occur. After this, distillation happens, before maturation in an oak cask for as many as 70 years.

Of course, this is very brief and there is much more to learn, so if you want to visit the Glen Ord Distillery, book on a Scotland cruise that includes this option and you won’t be disappointed.

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Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK’s most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holidays if you’re looking for a relaxing <a href=””>Scotland cruise</a>, or itineraries to a host of other excellent destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.


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