MORAY, Speyside is the global capital for whisky production with world famous distilleries including Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant and Glenlivet to name a few.
Revelling in the most renowned single malts is a no-brainer, but Morayshire is more than a one-trick pony.
It also offers stunning coastline, countryside, castles, and an excellent larder. So, it’s time to discover that there’s more to Moray than whisky…
First off, Morayshire was the home of Macbeth, a real man in history reimagined by Shakespeare. Therefore Morayshire is full of tales and intrigue of both the real and the fictional Macbeth.
For example, Pitgaveny near Elgin is where the real Macbeth defeated King Duncan in 1040 to become King of Alba.
Or, for an atmospheric experience, stay at the comfortable glamping pods at Macbeth’s Hillock. This site is where Shakespeare’s Macbeth is said to have met the three witches, so eerie nights around the campfire are guaranteed.
By day, Morayshire offers diverse attractions for all.
Head to the Speyside Cooperage where skilled craftsmen make barrels for the whisky industry at an exceptional rate.
Up in Spey Bay, dolphin-spotting is on the cards at the Scottish Dolphin Centre.
Discover why the Moray Firth boasts the world’s chubbiest dolphins (clue – the water is very cold!) and undertake a tour of the UK’s largest Ice House.
Those who love castles, ruins and heritage are spoiled for choice in this region.
Take a tour of the elegant Brodie Castle – its innovative Playful Garden transfixes children with a range of out-door toys and installations, including Scotland’s biggest bunny sculpture.
Nelson’s Tower in Forres is another curiosity. Erected by public subscription after Lord Nelson’s death, it’s run by local volunteers from the Forres Heritage Trust. Reach it via a tranquil walk up Cluny Hill, and ascend the tower for excellent views out to sea.
Other highlights include the ruins of Elgin Cathedral and the stately Ballindalloch Castle.
In terms of food and drink, the region has an excellent larder, but many foodie gems are off the beaten track.
Drop by Gordon Castle’s Walled Garden and explore its Victorian Glasshouse, dine in the café, and pick up fresh produce in the honesty shop.
Mini tourists can play in the Nature Garden constructed from reclaimed materials from the estate.
And don’t leave without a bottle of Gordon Castle Gin, created from botanicals grown on-site.
For something different head to the Findhorn Ecovillage for organic, Fairtrade and artisan foods.
Traditional Scottish fare can be found at Walkers Shortbread Visitor Centre, or visit Baxters of Fochabers, which includes a quirky 19th Century grocery store, a Food Hall and Café.
It’s also easy to find cosy pubs dishing up quality dishes, such as the Old Mill Inn at Brodie and the Mosset Tavern in Forres. The latter is notably child-friendly and also offers a Vegan menu.
Many excellent Morayshire hotels serve up local specialties.
Copper Dog is the cool yet relaxed bar/restaurant at the Craigellachie Hotel. This venue has played host to the likes of Noel Gallacher, Sadie Frost and Kate Moss, so check out the sumptuous Quaich Bar that boasts over 900 single malts.
Alternatively, book a luxurious suite at the Station Hotel in Rothes. Select a pre-dinner drink in its informal Toots Bar, dine in Pagoda’s restaurant, then savour a dram in its Spirit Safe Bar.
Lastly, for those who prefer self-catering, make yourself at home within Carden Holiday Cottages, four-star family-friendly accommodation set within a converted steading.
Ultimately, the moral of Morayshire is, enjoy your malts, but be sure to savour the scenery, history, larder and vibe of this beautiful corner of Scotland.