Every town in Scotland has its own unique charms. Dufftown, halfway up the road between Aberdeen and Inverness, has several. There are a couple of castles in the area, a few excellent golf courses, and no end of fantastic scenic views. But this quiet Moray town is known above all for one thing: whisky. The self-proclaimed “Whisky Capital of the World”, Dufftown is home to six major distilleries, and produces more malt whisky than any other place in Scotland. For Scotch drinkers, especially those who prefer the Speyside malts, this is heaven on Earth.
Glenfiddich and Balvenie both give excellent distillery tours. The town itself hosts a weekly “whisky nosing” each Wednesday throughout the summer. There is also a “Whisky Museum”, otherwise known as the Dufftown Whisky and Heritage Centre, on Fife street, and a famous whisky shop with an overwhelming selection of over 600 whiskies.
Dufftown is hardly a one-trick pony. There’s more to do here than sniff, taste and drink fine whisky. Balvenie Castle is one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland, built in the 13th century by Alexander, Earl of Buchan. Just southwest of town lie the ruins of Auchendoun Castle. This 15th century castle was destroyed in a battle between clans in 1592, and actually had its stone cannibalized to build an addition to Balvenie Castle, but the ruins are worth a visit and far enough off the beaten path that you will often be the only tourists there.
Dufftown Golf Club is one of the highlights of any Highlands golf tour, with two holes listed in the book “Britain’s 100 Extraordinary Golf Holes”. The 10th hole tee is over 1000 feet above sea level and offers maybe the best view of the whole town, so stow your camera in your golf bag if you hit the links.
Dufftown is conveniently located halfway between Aberdeen and Inverness, so if you’re driving between these two northern Scottish cities, you have no excuse not to stop. The A96 will get you from either one to Dufftown in about an hour and a half. If you aren’t driving, ScotRail will take you from Aberdeen to Keith, then a short ride on the #360 bus will get you to Dufftown. From Inverness, the closest rail station is Elgin, and you’ll need to take the #36 bus south from there.
Dufftown is pretty low on hotels, but luckily the area has some great bed and breakfasts. Some of the best local places aren’t on any of the big hotel booking sites, but I’d recommend talking to these three: