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I’ve been almost entirely eschewing organized tours on this trip — partially because I like wandering around on my own, and partially because that stuff isn’t cheap.  If you’re only travelling for a week or two, it makes complete sense to pay for stuff like that, because why not?  You may as well cram as much as you can into the days that you have, and then worry about the money when you get home.

But when you’re travelling for several months, your budget is drastically different.  Every cent counts, and if you’re taking pricey tours everywhere you go, that’ll add up fast.

Still, exceptions have to be made, and in Scotland — which is known just as much for its scenic countryside as anything else — I figured I’d be remiss if I stayed entirely in the city.  Since renting a car was out of the question, a tour was really the only option.

Stirling Castle, Glasgow, Scotland

It was a fun day.  We visited Stirling Castle, which is possibly the most famous one in Scotland.

There were some great views from up there.

Stirling Castle, Glasgow, Scotland

We also went to Doune Castle, which has been featured in several movies and TV shows, most notably (to me at least) Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Doune Castle, Glasgow, Scotland

We saw Loch Lomand.

Loch Lomond, Glasgow, Scotland

None of my photos were quite able to capture it, but this place was scenic AF.

Loch Lomond, Glasgow, Scotland

And finally, we visited the Glengoyne whisky distillery and got to see the whole scotch-making process, which was actually quite fascinating.

Glengoyne Whisky Distillery, Glasgow, Scotland

It’s kind of insane that a drink with so many complex flavours is made with just three ingredients: barley, water, and yeast.

Glengoyne Whisky Distillery, Glasgow, Scotland

It’s quite touristy, and you probably won’t get much out of it if you already have some scotch know-how, but the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh is still a decent enough way to spend an hour or so.

It starts with a slow-moving, low-rent-Disney type of ride in which a ghost gives you an overview of how scotch is made.   It’s cheesy, but it’s a fun way to go over the basics of scotch production.

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

After that, you walk through a few exhibits and watch a couple of videos on the five scotch-producing regions in Scotland, and then finally at the end of the tour you get to try some scotch.  The tour comes with one glass of scotch, and you can pay a bit extra to try a scotch from all five regions.  I did this, because if you’re in Scotland, you may as well drink a bunch of scotch.

It was interesting to try all the varieties in such close succession, though I’ll admit that other than the overt smokiness of the Islay scotch, they all tasted quite similar to me.

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

Also, drinking five scotches in a row is probably not something you want to do.  They weren’t quite regulation-sized amounts of scotch, which is good because that wouldn’t have ended well for anyone.  I enjoyed all of them, but I was still a bit scotched out by the end.

They also have a store with an impressive selection of bottles to buy.  That includes this bottle of 50-year-old Balvenie, which costs a mere £27,500.

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland