Auberge Resorts was born in the heart of Napa Valley wine country before growing into an international collection of more than 20 luxury properties, so it is only fitting that they return to their adult beverage roots. Their new Lodge at Blue Sky, outside Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, where guests enjoy a variety of outdoor pursuits, summer and winter, has whiskey on its grounds. The sprawling 3,500-acre dude ranch-style property is home to both the new Auberge Lodge at Blue Sky and highly awarded whiskey maker High West.
Worldwide, lodging and distillery combos run the gamut from rooms above the stills to small inns to historic Scottish cottages. Others might throw world-class skiing or equestrian pursuits into the mix. In every case, they make great vacation options for those who enjoy blending two of life’s finest pleasures: travel and whisky.
Lodge at Blue Sky & High West—Wanship, Utah
High West began with a small ski-in/ski-out distillery and slope-side restaurant in Park City, which remains open, but quickly outgrew its production capacity due to its overwhelming popularity. The newer, larger distillery resides within Blue Sky’s hospitality and recreational paradise in the nearby Wasatch Mountains. Here, High West has a similar restaurant with the same great locally sourced food, a full retail store, and distillery tours and tastings, all open five days a week. High West’s new facility is within walking distance of the Lodge at Blue Sky, which opened in May of this year. It features 46 rustic-luxe rooms and suites inspired by the natural surroundings, with lavish bathrooms and outdoor living spaces. There’s a full spa, signature restaurant, and a wide range of outdoor and sporting activities and adventures, from the relaxing (horseback riding, hiking, and fly-fishing) to the intrepid (heli-skiing and biathlon). Overnight guests can enjoy special tastings at the distillery, as well as at “outposts” around the property, such as an al fresco whiskey tasting after hiking to a mountain peak. High West makes four core whiskeys: two ryes, a bourbon, and Campfire, a unique blend of 4 to 8 year old peated blended malt scotch, rye, and bourbon. Don’t miss the two Utah-only offerings: Valley Tan, a blend of wheat and oat whiskeys, and Light, a 14 year old 92-proof light whiskey that hails from Indiana, as well as monthly barrel-select releases sold only at the distillery.
Room Rates and Tastings: Located about 25 minutes from Park City and 40 from Salt Lake City, the High West Distillery and Tasting Room is open Wednesday-Sunday, including a full bar and restaurant, retail store, and daily tours. Auberge’s Lodge at Blue Sky has a restaurant emphasizing produce and proteins raised on the ranch and includes facilities for weddings and other functions. Nightly room rates start at $675-$1,099 and vary by season.
Set on the water’s edge on the rugged island of Islay, Bowmore is one of the most iconic names in the world of whisky, famed for distilling seaside and peat flavors into golden single malt. Bowmore is renowned for the rich history and quality of its tour and tasting options. Fortunately, it also offers the best lodging options of any Scottish distillery, with both an inn and cottages on-site. Dating to the early 19th century, the cottages were originally employee housing, hence names like maltman’s and stillman’s cottages. They have been carefully upgraded to retain their rural country charm. All have multiple en suite bedrooms, which can be rented individually or as entire cottages, plus kitchens, dining rooms, and garden patios. These are located in the heart of the distillery property, and directly across the street is the intimate Harbour Inn, with seven guest rooms, all featuring marble-clad bathrooms with rain showers. The ultimate convenience is the award-winning Harbour Inn restaurant and bar, featuring Scottish-sourced ingredients and specialties like an “oyster luge” and more than 70 whiskies, with an emphasis on Islay and rare bottlings created for Fèis Ìle, the island’s annual music and malt festival.
Bowmore Distillery offers four different tours; the top tier includes a visit to their famed No. 1 Vaults, the world’s oldest operating whisky warehouse. The distillery tasting bar is a must-stop for every visitor to Islay, where they pour standards such as Bowmore 12 and 15 year old, as well as special bottlings like the Vault Edition Atlantic Sea Salt. Their Rare Whiskey Tray includes a flight of three special expressions for £75, most recently 18 year Pedro Ximénez, 25 year old Claret Wine Finish Fèis Ìle 2016, and 27 year old Vintner’s Trilogy.
Room Rates and Tastings: Bowmore Tasting Bar and tours are available spring to fall, and every day but Sunday in winter. The entry-level tour is an hour long with three tastings (£10), while the most complex tour lasts five hours and includes a trip to Bowmore’s water source and a VIP tasting in the No. 1 Vaults (£130). In between there’s a guided tasting (£30) and the Vaults Secrets tour with a barrel tasting (£70). Cottage room rates begin at £70 nightly or £120 per night for an entire cottage sleeping up to six (£145 for up to 9). Harbour Inn rooms begin at £110 and include breakfast.
Drink This: Fill your own bottle straight from a cask in the warehouse using a valinch. This premium experience varies according to the rarity of the whisky on offer. Recently, guests could bottle up some 1998 sherry cask-finished whisky at 57.5% for a price of £180.
Bill Welter played four years of Division 1 golf at the University of Missouri before heading to the birthplace of the game, St Andrews, Scotland. His job at the Old Course Hotel, home to one of the best scotch lists on earth, led to an interest in whisky. Welter returned to Michigan to combine his passions for golf and whisky. He renovated the 19th century E.K. Warren Featherbone factory, once a maker of buggy whips and corsets, into a distillery, restaurant, and tasting room. It also has a large guest apartment upstairs, a rental home within a five-minute walk, and Welter’s Folly, a 30,000-square-foot, eighteen-hole natural grass putting course inspired by the famed Himalayas layout at St Andrews’ Old Course (don’t drink and drive, but putting is encouraged). The Journeyman Distillery prominently features whiskeys—nine of them, including rye, bourbon, wheat, single malt, four grain, white, and Kissing Cousins, aged in both white and red wine barrels. All of the grain-based spirits—whiskey, gin, vodka, and more—are both kosher and certified organic. Likewise, the brandy includes Michigan grapes.
With five bedrooms spread over 7,000 square feet, Journeyman Flat can accommodate up to fourteen adults (plus four kids) and features exposed brick walls, timber beams, and a private courtyard. The nearby Journeyman Farmhouse sits among organic fields and sleeps up to ten in four bedrooms. Guests will find a welcome bottle of whiskey and even handmade soaps infused with distilled spirits.
Room Rates and Tastings: Three Oaks is near the Indiana border in the southernmost corner of Michigan, less than 90 minutes from Chicago. Hour-long tours are offered several times on weekends (Friday-Sunday) for $13 and include eleven tastes. A more in-depth Distiller’s Tour is offered on Saturdays and Sundays (90 minutes, $25, 15 spirits). The large Staymaker restaurant features an eclectic menu using local products. Try the Detroit-style pizza. The Flat starts at $1,500 per night, the Farmhouse at $500.
Drink This: Journeyman’s Last Feather rye, Featherbone bourbon, and Silver Cross whiskey are available in 100-proof versions exclusively at the distillery. The Staymaker restaurant’s bar specializes in large format punches for four to eight, like the John Daly Bowl (wheat whiskey, simple syrup, iced tea, and lemon).
The Cavalier Hotel is an iconic 1927 neoclassic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, having hosted ten U.S. presidents and celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. It reopened in 2018 after a massive four-year, $85 million renovation, which meticulously restored the architectural elements of its glamorous past while adding modern luxuries—and a new distillery. The 85-room property sits on 21 oceanfront acres and has four dining and entertainment venues including Tarnished Truth Distillery, the first distillery fully integrated into an American hotel. It specializes in small batch, aged bourbons (Old Cavalier bourbon, Tarnished Truth bourbon mash moonshine, and Tarnished Truth High Rye bourbon) and vodka, offering guests tours, special tastings, cocktail classes, and more. Adjacent to the distillery is the Prohibition-era Hunt Room tavern, featuring cocktails, rustic fare, flight pairings, and live entertainment nightly. The SeaHill Spa even incorporates Tarnished Truth whiskey in their bourbon facial. There is an indoor salt water pool, ballroom, fitness center, hotel museum, and private beach club. With a grand lobby, soaring ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and whiskey flowing, the Cavalier is a taste of the Roaring ’20s.
Room Rates and Tastings: The Cavalier is part of Marriott’s boutique Autograph Collection, and the independently owned Tarnished Truth Distillery offers tours with a tasting Thursday to Sunday ($20 includes tasting and souvenir glass). The pinnacle experience is the Presidential Bourbon Barrel Club Package ($25,000): it includes 300 (if aged for 3 years) or 150 (8 years) bottles of bourbon made to your personal recipe and one night annually in the Presidential Suite for up to eight years. Nightly room rates start around $259.
Drink This: Visit the Hunt Room bar for a cocktail with an offbeat twist, like the nitrogen-infused take on a Boulevardier, featuring 3 year old Tarnished Truth bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
An influx of great restaurants and artists, and America’s first boutique inn-cum-distillery, has landed the funky town of Carbondale a place on the map. Following its vodka, coffee liqueur, and gingercello, Marble released the first of three whiskeys-in-progress in late 2018: Hoover’s Revenge Ragged Mountain rye, made entirely with Colorado-sourced grains (rye, soft white wheat, and malted barley). Bourbon will be next. The motto here is “drink sustainably,” and the high-tech distillery is proudly zero-waste, with 100 percent water recapture, spent grains distributed to local ranchers, and the energy created in distilling used to heat (and cool) the building, including five luxurious modern hotel suites above the stills.
The Colorado-made bath amenities are organic, there are Tesla charging stations, and in 2017 it was the only property in the U.S. to earn the prestigious Green Hotelier Award. But comforts have not been spared in the name of efficiency: suites feature large flat-screen TVs, gas fireplaces, fine Italian linens, spa-style bathrooms with oversized rain showers, and Marble-stocked mini-bars. Suites are pet friendly and have private balconies. Guests also enjoy use of the “partio” rooftop deck and loaner bikes for touring town. The tasting room features the massive namesake Marble Bar, cut from a nine-ton block of the same Yule Quarry marble used for the Lincoln Memorial. Head distiller and “Queen Bee” Connie Baker usually gives the tours personally, whether scheduled or spur of the moment. Don’t miss the liquor-infused chocolates just for guests and tasting room visitors.
Room Rates and Tastings: The Distillery Inn is less than 40 minutes from Aspen. Tours are available by advance reservation and on demand if you’re lucky. The distillery and inn do not have a restaurant, but the town offers several. Suites start at $259 per night, and special activity packages include organic farm and ranch tours, dinner theater, spa treatments, and even yoga with alpacas. Off-season rates available mid-October through mid-November.
Drink This: Hoover’s Revenge rye, made from all Colorado-sourced ingredients and named for a coonhound who lost an eye to a mountain lion, is available only at the two Marble Bar locations in Carbondale and Aspen.
Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island bears such a striking resemblance to Scotland that it has attracted Scottish émigrés for the past two centuries. Fortunately, one of those transplants brought the secret of whisky making with him, launching Glenora Distillery in 1990. These pioneers of North American single malt now offer a range of whiskies between 8 and 25 years old, as well as several limited editions and a unique line of whiskies aged in Canadian ice wine barrels, Glen Breton Ice (10, 17, and 19 years old). The Glenora resort compound encompasses 200 acres, with the distillery itself, the restaurant and pub, and the original nine-room inn clustered together. Perched above on the hillside is the five-room Glenora Lodge (2016), the new eight-room Brookside Lodge (2018), and six large stand-alone log chalets.
A basic distillery tour with tasting is offered hourly in season (May-October), with an optional upgrade to a Backstage Pass VIP tour including a straight-from-the-barrel tasting in the warehouse. The restaurant is ranked in Canada’s Top 100 and has a heavy Nova Scotia influence. Otherwise, Glenora embraces its Scottish heritage and Old World feel with live Scottish music jam sessions in the pub every afternoon and evening. They also incorporate their whiskies into a variety of products for sale on-site, including single malt honey, cakes, truffles, fudge, and barbecue sauce.
Room Rates and Tastings: The standard tour (20 minutes, $7CAD) is a sufficient introduction to the distillery, but the by-appointment VIP tour is much more in-depth and includes a guided library tasting (starting at $125CAD). Glenora sits just ten minutes from the highly acclaimed 36-hole Cabot Links, the top-rated golf resort in Canada. Rooms in old or new buildings are basic but adequate. The fine-dining restaurant serves dinner, regaling guests with fresh local scallops, harpooned swordfish, and other seafood, while the warm and lively pub serves three meals daily.
Drink This: The distillery offers a custom “bottle your own” option from rotating stocks which recently included a 15 year old peated single malt and 23 year old single malt. Hard to find elsewhere, The Dark Glen (Ghleann Dubh) is a peated 13 year old.