Travel, Food & Drink Vineyards & Wine

Lift Your Spirits: Unique Distillery and Vineyard Experiences to Savor

A one-of-a-kind mezcal distillery in Mexico, whisky flights at Scotland’s oldest distillery, and a wine club that combines travel with creating your own vintage

If you’re a fan of special whisky or vintage wine, Michelin-starred food or innovative vodka, there are some unique distillery and vineyard experiences to treat yourself to in 2022—including learning to create your own vintage wine. Stretching from Scotland to Mexico and beyond, your only challenge is choosing where to visit first.

A Mezcal Distillery in Mexico

Bedroom featuring natural materials
The suites feature accents including burnt-wood furnishings, distressed leather details, artisanal candles, hand-woven wool rugs, velvet upholstery, and copper lamps—produced in partnership with local artisans, craftspeople, and emerging artists. Courtesy: Onnis Luque

Nestled in the Valley of Xaaga—nicknamed The Valley of Silence—Casa Silencio is the brainchild of Mezcal El Silencio founders Fausto Zapata and Vicente Cisneros. Working with Mexican architect Alejandro D’Acosta, the pair drew inspiration from their travels through Mexico’s wine country and the distilleries of Scotland to create a hotel that blends Brutalism, Minimalism, and locally sourced natural materials.

There are just six guest suites, as well as a one-of-a-kind sustainable distillery with views of the agave-studded valley and an indoor–outdoor dining area in which to savor menus created by chef Daniel Robles Sumano. And of course there’s the mezcal to try in a private tasting room, along with a tour of the distillery.

casasilencio.com

Meet The Glenturret Lalique chef, Mark Donald

Glenturret Lalique chef, Mark McDonald pictured with whisky barrels
Mark Donald joined The Glenturret in early 2021. He's developed dishes and menus that showcase the very best of Scotland, shaped by his travels and culinary experiences.

After working his way around the world’s finest eateries, including Copenhagen’s Noma and Bentley in Sydney, Scottish chef Mark Donald has gone back to his roots. Following a stint at the acclaimed Number One at the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, he is now heading up The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant in Scotland’s oldest whisky distillery.

“I loved traveling and cooking internationally, but it’s great to be back in my home country,” Donald says. “I want everything to be delicious. We’re in the heart of Perthshire, in a working distillery—drawing on our surroundings plays a massive role in our evolution.”

The venue offers six whisky tasting flights providing a unique opportunity to delve deeper into all The Glenturret expressions. Enjoy rare access and try ‘new make’ spirit, as well as sampling private archives and historical bottlings. Tasting is complemented by small, quirky dishes created to match the whiskies. Donald’s return to Scotland has already paid off—The Glenturret has just been awarded a Michelin star.

theglenturretrestaurant.com

Become a Pinot pilgrim 

People dining outside a vine-covered home
The Vines community shares transformative experiences from virtual events to multi-day blending escapes, as well as trips to Europe and beyond.

If you’ve ever visited somewhere especially to sample the wines, you might like The Vines, a new membership club that offers “blending escapes” to some of the world’s best winemaking regions.

The invitation-only “explorers’ club” takes its members to meet master practitioners who help them create their own unique vintages, drawing on local traditions. The club offers authenticity with an insider’s perspective and promises a sustainable approach, too. As a member, you’re free to choose new destinations every year, or return to a favorite region.

Set up by Michael Evans, who founded The Vines of Mendoza resort and vineyard in Argentina, The Vines will offer winemaking opportunities in 12 regions worldwide. Non-wine pop-ups, including sake-making in Japan and mezcal-making in Mexico, are also planned.

the-vines.com

Blended-barley vodka X Muse 

Barley, vodka bottle and glass
X Muse is the first blended-barley vodka inspired by the spirit-making traditions of Scotland. Its creators blend heritage barley and the purest water to produce an innovative vodka.

The inspiration for blended-barley vodka X Muse (pronounced “tenth muse”) is Edinburgh’s Jupiter Artland sculpture park and gallery—its grounds feature an ancient aquifer, the source of the pure water used to make the liquor. A visit to the the sculpture park, founded in 2009 by philanthropist art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, is highly recommended. It reopens on April 15.

Located in more than 100 acres of meadow, woodland and indoor gallery spaces, the garden features some 30 permanent and unique site-specific sculptures from artists Phyllida Barlow, Christian Boltanski, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley. There’s a curated seasonal program too.

“X Muse has been born of the place that inspired it—Jupiter Artland, a unique and special place of artistic endeavour and quiet contemplation, where art and nature combine in harmonious coexistence,” reveals Robert Wilson, X Muse CEO.

Wilson worked with co-founder Vadim Grigoryan to produce a drink that embodies the spirit-making traditions of Scotland. The result is a vodka that’s rich and complex, and can be enjoyed on the rocks or in classic cocktails. Making a vodka that’s also good to sip is one of the most difficult spirit-making tasks, Grigoryan says. “With vodka there’s not much space to hide,” he explains.

Banner image: Casa Silencio, Mexico. Courtesy: Onnis Luque