In the heart of Speyside sits the pretty village of Aberlour and the iconic Mash Tun – a riverside inn and whisky bar.
Whether you are visiting Speyside for whisky tasting and touring the distilleries, walking the Speyside Way or practising your ‘Spey cast’ in the hope of landing a salmon, the Mash Tun offers up fabulous food, a warm Moray welcome and stylish Aberlour accommodation.
We spent a fabulous weekend on the River Spey with the Mash Tun, Aberlour. Let’s check in.
Welcome to Speyside…
Speyside is centred around the River Spey. This is famously whisky and fishing country, traditionally visitors come here to sample whisky from the 50+ Speyside whisky distilleries or to go fly fishing on the famous River Spey fisheries where anglers from all over the world come to fish for wild Atlantic Salmon.
In the centre of Speyside is the pretty village of Aberlour, or to give it its full name, Charlestown of Aberlour. If you are looking for a base to discover the delights of Speyside, then Aberlour is the perfect spot.
Siting on the banks of the mighty River Spey at the junction of one of its tributaries the Lour Burn, Aberlour is home to three of the most famous Speyside distilleries (Aberlour, Macallan and GlenAllachie) and is located on the Speyside Way, the 85-mile walking and cycling route which runs from Buckie to Aviemore.
If you are looking for the perfect Speyside and Aberlour accommodation, then look no further than The Mash Tun.
A stay at the Mash Tun, Aberlour
Built in 1896 by James Campbell, a sea captain, the Mash Tun was originially designed to look like a ship – you can still see the James initials above the door. Previously the Aberlour Station Bar, the inn once served passengers travelling on the Strathspey Railway. The bar only changed its name to the Mash Tun in 1965 with the closure of the railway.
If you squint a bit, the new name suits the place – the round frontage is not too dissimilar to the actual mash tuns used in the whisky-making process. A previous owner, obviously fuelled by nostalgia, once pledged to restore the pub to its original name if trains again pulled into the station… you can now enjoy their whiskies on the old station platform overlooking the River Spey.
Stay at the Mash Tun, Aberlour
With 5 en suite luxury bedrooms with views of the Spey – and a lodge, the Stalla Dhu which sleeps up to eight – the Mash Tun has recently been stylishly refurbished. Our room for our weekend in Speyside was The Glenlivet, a top-floor ensuite room which overlooked the River Spey.
Cosy and comfortable, our room had immaculate decor including a wrought iron double bed with heavy covers, quilts and muted colours. The en suite was a wee bit more dramatic – with gorgeous peacock wallpaper and an indulgent roll-top bath with a private view of the village church tower. In the middle of a January storm we were well protected from the winds sweeping up the Spey outside.
There are five rooms at the Mash Tun Aberlour – all whisky-themed. If you are looking for a twin, choose The Macallan room. The Glenfiddich room and the Glenfarlcas room both have romantic four posters and ensuite showers and The Aberlour is a family room with a double bed and a lounge with a double bed settee. If you are travelling as a group, the four rooms in the Stall Dhu lodge can be booked individually or as a group.
Aberlour restaurants – the whisky bar at the Mash Tun
Downstairs in the Mash Tun is the hotel’s iconic whisky bar and restaurant. With well over a hundred Speyside (and beyond) whiskies on offer, the bar is also home to the only full collection of the Glenfarclas Family Casks* – a collection of 52 single-cask whiskies, one for each consecutive year from 1952 to 2003. Each whisky is available to drink by the dram.
There is a well-put-together wine list, cocktail menu and even a cigar menu for those inclined towards an after-dinner constitutional. The Mash Tun also has a small but well-stocked cigar (with both Cuban and New World cigars) and whisky shop (with a selection of rare and modern single malts) and outside there is a cigar terrace and cigar pavilion for those inclement Scottish days.
Beyond the whisky, the Mash Tun also offers fantastic food. From traditional Scottish pub grub such as local Lossiemouth haddock and chips, Highland rib-eye steaks and burgers to the more modern such as crab and king prawn linguine and duck cassoulet with chicken, bacon and white bean. They also put on a simply stupendous Sunday roast. The Mash Tun offers up gloriously tasty and good value food (huge portions!) with quick and really friendly service.
Things to do in Aberlour and Speyside
If you can drag yourself away from trying the Glenfarclas Family Casks, the whole of Speyside and Morayshire is on your doorstep. Here are my favourite things to do in Aberlour:
- Hike the River Spey along the Speyside Way – Aberlour is on the Craigellachie to Ballindalloch section of the Speyside Way and the stroll along the river between Aberlour and the neighbouring village of Craigellachie is around 30 minutes. You can also walk to Dufftown to visit the Glenfiddich Distillery. Walk the Speyside Way.
- Visit an Aberlour whisky distillery – over half of Scotland’s whisky distilleries can be found in Speyside and whisky produced from the River Spey is renowned for its sweet and accessible style – making it perfect for beginners. Why not visit the Aberlour Distillery in the village, the brand new distillery at Macallan, the famous Glenfiddich and Balvenie in Dufftown or, Glenallachie, my favourite Glenfarclas or The Glenlivet Distillery? All of these distilleries do tours and tastings and are within a 10-20 minute drive from the Mash Tun.
- Visit the Speyside Cooperage – visit this cooperage to discover the ancient tradition of making whisky barrels – the tour of the Speyside Cooperage is fascinating.
- Explore the Glenlivet Estate – explore the Glenlivet Circular Trail, winding through the Glenlivet Estate. This moderate walk takes you past historic sites, heather-clad hills, and the tranquil waters of Lochan Mor. Why not explore the Glenlivet Estate by argocat with Glenlivet Hilltrek.
- Indulge at the home of Shortbread – Aberlour is home to Walker’s Shortbread. You can visit the original Walker’s bakery shop in the village and the factory. Try the salted caramel shortbread – it is my favourite!
- Photograph the Craigellachie Bridge – take a stroll across the historic Craigellachie Bridge, an iconic landmark that spans the River Spey designed by Thomas Telford in the 19th Century.
- Walk up to the Linn Falls – the stroll up the Aberlour Burn to the pretty Linn Falls (Linn of Ruthie) on a 1-hour walk from the village up past the Aberlour Distillery.
- Head further afield to visit the Moray Firth villages of Cullen, Gardenstown and Crovie – some of the prettiest coastal villages in Scotland. Read more: exploring the Moray Firth coast.
Read more: things to do in Speyside
Read my complete guide to Speyside whisky and book a visit to one of my favourite Speyside Distilleries
Ready to book your trip to the Mash Tun?
Love from Scotland x
We were invited to stay at the Mash Tun. You might also like The Puffin Rooms in Edinburgh