The plush Scottish Highlands are like something straight from a storybook or a postcard. The town of Tain in particular, with its rich history, scenic beauty, and drams of whisky at every turn, is the region’s crown jewel. Home to the Glenmorangie scotch distillery, the town offers plenty of non-alcoholic activities, from bike tours to Celtic museums, as well as an age-old tradition of imbibing at the Glenmorangie House, a 17th-century inn operated by the distillery. Herein, a Scottish Highlands guide for outdoors(wo)men, scotch connoisseurs, and everyone in between.
Warm up with a convivial aperitif and pre-dinner canapés in the Morning Room, where a variety of whiskies are there for the sampling, or opt for a house cocktail like the Long Zest, made with Glenmorangie Original, angostura bitters, and Fever-Tree ginger ale. Soon enough, you’ll be whisked off to the dining room, where dinner (all meals are included in the room rate) is served around a communal dining table. And while the seating may be family-style, the ingredients are all gourmet. Head chef David Graham’s hearty Scottish fare like black pepper-crusted Scottish beef and, yes, haggis, complements the house’s collection of aromatic single malts.
Be sure to fuel up at breakfast for the brisk morning walk that’s ahead. Once you’ve pulled on a pair of wellies and a rain jacket, head out for a guided walk along the beach to a recreation of the famed Hilton of Cadboll Stone conducted by the piece’s sculptor Barry Grove. Grove, who lives nearby and gives tours upon request, was commissioned to create an exact replica of the ancient stone, which dates back to 800 AD. The detailed carving and Grove’s explanation of his techniques are not to be missed.
You may still be full from the morning’s sausage and eggs but you’ll want to make room for a private cheese tasting with local purveyor Highland Fine Cheeses. Naturally, the cheeses will be paired with a curated variety of Glenmorangie’s whiskies. Once your buzz wears off, chances are you’ll crave some sort of physical activity. Luckily, the Glenmorangie has just unveiled an unlikely partnership with Renovo: a stunning $7,000 bicycle crafted from former whisky barrels. The machine is lightweight and sleek, making for a ride smooth that’s almost as smooth as a sip of single malt.
Take the bike for a spin over to Anta, a local vendor of Scottish wares (think pottery and Tartan linens) and recharge with a spot of tea at the attached café before hopping back on the bike.
No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to the distillery. The Glenmorangie’s iconic property includes the Still House (nicknamed the “Highland Cathedral”) which houses Scotland’s tallest fermentation stills (the height of an adult giraffe), earth-floored warehouses stacked with oak-bourbon casks aged ten years, and views of the peaceful Dornoch Firth that live up to the distillery’s name (Glenmorangie means Glen of Tranquility in Celtic).
After lunch of Blue Cheese and Red Onion Soda Bread or Langoustine in Apricot and Plum Sauce at Glenmorangie House, your options for your post-meal activity include several picaresque Scottish pastimes arranged by the inn, from pony trekking in the Highlands and clay pigeon shooting. Or there’s nothing wrong with taking the afternoon at leisure and admiring your antlered decanter of Glenmorangie Original, compliments of the inn. After all, marathon eating and drinking can be exhausting.