Ayrshire’s breath-taking landscape of rolling hills, rugged coast and sparkling offshore islands is nothing short of inspiring. So thought Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns. The poet was born in Ayrshire and spent most of his life drawing inspiration from its landscapes, its people and, yes, one or two of Ayrshire’s fine ales.
This is a region of crystal clear waters and aromatic botanicals, where you can savour fine whiskies and world-class gin too. Ayrshire boasts real expertise with spirits and ales. Visit breweries, distilleries and shops, where you can buy a top tipple and learn the stories behind the drinks from the people passionate and knowledgeable about what they do.
The Tipple Taste Trail is an exploration into a world of small batch production, a world where real flavour and quality greet you at every turn. It is a journey across famously fertile Ayrshire and to the isles of Arran and Cumbrae too. If you’re not driving enjoy tasting as you go. Or in one of Ayrshire’s friendly bars or restaurants, raising a toast to Burns. If you are driving, you can learn all about the drink you are going to enjoy when you’re safely tucked at home.
AYRSHIRE & ARRAN TIPPLE TASTE TRAIL
Ayr Brewing Co.
The Jar Troon
A. D. Rattray
- Arran Botanical Drinks – Head to the beach to sip Arran Gin (with its hand-foraged local Arran botanicals) neat, or in delicious cocktails as you gaze out over the Clyde with sand between your toes. The wooden shack interior is bedecked in Scandi-Scot style with a wood-burning stove, but on warm days it’s all about the beach. They do a mean cassis and their own botanical beers too and their shop is well-stocked so you won’t leave empty-handed.
- Isle of Cumbrae Distillery – The all-female quintet behind the superb Cumbrae Gin met through a mutual love of gin. Not content with just appreciating gin, they now conjure it up on the Millport waterfront. The slick shop stocks their excellent Nostalgin, Croc Rock Gin and Restoration Gin. Make sure to indulge in a tour and tasting in their recently revamped premises.
- Arran Brewery – A warm welcome awaits at their brewery near Brodick Castle. Sample their fine ales, before choosing which ones to take home with brewery discounts often available. Their signature Arran Blonde is fresh and hoppy, ideal refreshment on a warm day. Or on colder winter nights, Clyde Puffer is an oatmeal stout perfect for cosying up.
- Ayr Brewing Company – Discover hand-crafted award-winning ales brewed right at the heart of Robert Burns Country. The bard would no doubt have approved of Rabbie’s Porter, named in his honour. Their lighter Radler comes with a twist of organic lemonade, while if you like wheat beer try their Hefeweizen, a palate-popping weissbier.
- Lochranza Distillery – This deeply romantic distillery hunkers down between a sweep of hills just back from the water in the picturesque Arran village of Lochranza. Eagles soar and deer roam outside. Learn all about their award-winning single malts on a tour, or take a special tasting of their rarer whiskies. Don’t miss CASKS Café, their well-stocked shop, or the Arran Whisky Festival Malt & Music every June, with its music, masterclasses and exclusive whiskies.
- Lagg Distillery – The new south Arran distillery from the team behind its northern sibling. This spectacular distillery gazes out over the Clyde and the island of Ailsa Craig. Be mesmerised on their high-tech tours, enjoy a whisky tasting and check out their shop too. The focus of their whiskies is on full-flavoured peated expressions. You can eat very well on site too at Kilmory Café and the Shieling Bistro with both serving up delicious treats such as hearty Cullen Skink and Arran Poutine with melted curds from Arran’s Bellevue Creamery.
- The Jar, Troon – Supremely well-stocked whisky specialist in Troon boasting over 300 whisky expressions; gin too. They know everything you need to know about whisky and gin here. You can taste whisky in the shop – look out too for their regular special whisky classes and gin events.
- A.D. Rattray Whisky Shop, Kirkoswald – This soaring temple to Scotland’s ‘water of life’ gloriously reeks of the good stuff. An independent whisky company specialising in single cask and single malt whiskies, with some seriously rare whiskies you can only buy here. Or pick up a personalised bottle – filled on site – as a unique souvenir or gift.
- Geraldo’s, Largs – A brilliantly stocked food and drink emporium where you can pick up a bottle of botanical Arran Gin and a great range of Arran whisky too; both peated and unpeated. Or snap up a bottle of seriously tasty Cumbrae Gin – they stock all three of their gins here. Look out for regular in-store tasting events where you can meet the makers and sample their tasty wares – you won’t leave empty-handed.
- Robbie’s Drams, Ayr – An independent family-run business founded in 1984 with hundreds of single malt whiskies. Discover monthly special offers, collector’s items, limited-edition bottlings, and rarities from closed and silent distilleries. Or snare one of their own range single-cask bottlings, or world-famous Ayrshire gin Hendrick’s. Owner Robin Russell is also behind Ayr’s annual Whisky An’ A’ That festival.
- Seagate Brewery, Isle of Arran – A small-scale brewery on the waterfront in Lamlash in Arran opened in 2017. Enjoy a taste of one of their Belgian-styles beers – they’ve Scottish ales and stouts too – in their small-scale brewery, then take some away. You can sup their brews in the beer garden at the Drift Inn just metres away with a spectacular view across to Holy Isle.
More Ayrshire Tipples – William Grant & Sons’ hugely popular Hendrick’s Gin was a real Scottish gin pioneer. They don’t have a shop or tasting room, but you’ll find it in bars, shops and restaurants throughout Ayrshire. Always best with tonic and a slice of cucumber. Look out too for Ethical Ales small batch brews. Newcomer Ayrshire Riviera Cider Company have made themselves very popular in Ayrshire by offering free cider in exchange for apples. You can now find their crisp cider in delis and bars in Ayrshire. Independent small-scale newcomer Lochlea Distillery bottled its first whisky in 2021, but it has serious heritage as it’s on the Lochlea Farm where Burns once worked. Look out for fruity, approachable drams from their first-fill bourbon and PX sherry casks.