If you’re a whisky fan you’ll no doubt know your way around Scotland’s distillery map already, but did you know there’s a company that allows you to canoe between different distilleries along the River Spey?
Aptly-named Spirit of the Spey, Dave Craig organises canoe tours down one of the UK’s “most scenic rivers”, and often incorporates trips to many of Speyside’s whisky and gin distilleries as part of the experience.
With decades of canoeing experience under his belt, Dave said he wanted to show people the beauty of the river while offering something a bit different to what others were doing.
He said: “It’s not called Spirit of the Spey because of the whisky, it’s the other way round. I called it that because my clients were gracious enough to say that I enlisted the spirit of the river with the stories I tell. I thought that would be a nice name for the company.
“After that the whisky folk came to me. Some of them were actually miffed initially and asked how I got the Spirit of the Spey name. I said it’s because nobody else had it, which I was quite surprised about.
“Then they realised what I was doing and I’m now an ambassador for many of the distilleries along the river.
“I can tailor trips to what clients want to do or see, all with canoeing at the heart of the trip.”
With around 47 working distilleries in Speyside, and only a handful of these on the banks of the river, Dave is keen to offer exclusive tours and malt whisky tastings as part of the firm’s trips.
He adds: “Clients will say the distilleries they want to go to and see then I will figure out what’s practical.
“The main thing is to make their trip as near to what they’d like it to be as possible.
“For the distillery tours themselves, I book them for the client. I ask clients to book with me early so I can get them on the best tours and into the best lodgings.
“The whisky is really an add on to the canoeing experience. I think the bulk of my clients do want to know something about whisky but there are also now something like 12 Speyside gins.
“I’m thankful to be an ambassador for some of the gin producers as well and can offer trips to those, too.”
Tailored to clients
As the trips that Dave offers are bespoke and tailored to what the clients want, including distillery tours, day trips and multi-day trips, the price is all inclusive.
“Spirit of the Spey is a general term – it’s not just spirit in terms of alcohol, it’s whisky and gin now as well,” he continued.
“They’re all bespoke trips so each one is going to cost a slightly different amount. If you wanted just a day out, it would start at around £300. That gets you all your canoeing equipment, shoes, wooden paddles, good canoes etc. For every person above that there will be a per head rate thereafter.
“Then the multi-day trips average at about £300 a day per head.
“As well as the nice food the hotels cook, I provide a nice riverside lunch as well.
£Everything is all inclusive and clients don’t have to put a hand in their pockets as the majority is already pre paid, including the distillery tours.”
For more information on the tours, or to book, visit spiritofthespey.co.uk