The Outlander actor dishes on his favorite spots in Scotland and the accessories he packs for every trip.
Growing up in rural Scotland on the grounds of a derelict castle near New Galloway, Sam Heughan’s imagination ran free. “Interestingly, it was traveling that made me realize I should be an actor,” says the star of the time-traveling, bodice-ripping series Outlander. At 18, on a cross-country road trip through the United States, he had a revelation: “I realized I was drawn to theater, and I wasn’t allowing myself to follow that passion.” Today, the actor, author, producer, and spirits entrepreneur travels extensively for work and pleasure. He recently explored the wilds of Yellowstone and Zion national parks by camper van and also ventured through the mountains of Oaxaca.
Over the years, the Hawaiian Islands have become one of Heughan’s favorite destinations. “They’re so different to Scotland, but there’s a real connection to the land, and I think Scottish people have that,” he says. Regardless of where he’s headed, the actor packs last-minute and goes with the flow. “I’m beginning to realize that I need less and less,” he says. “The more we relax and enjoy the ride, the more rewarding the journey will be.”
This fall, Heughan will tour the U.S. with his latest spirits launch, The Sassenach Wild Scottish Gin, before wrapping up his award-winning show next year. “It’s going to be really hard to say goodbye,” he says of Outlander’s final season. Still, with new film projects, books, and entrepreneurial endeavors in the mix, Heughan says, “I’m at the crossroads of a new journey.”
Sam Heughan's Travel Essentials
1. Brooks running shoes. A run is a great way to explore a new place.
2. A Garmin watch to record workouts, download music and maps (for when you get lost on
that run!), and connect to your iPhone for messages.
3. Sunglasses from Garrett Leight, a cool California brand.
4. Vuori shorts are soft and flexible – good to relax in and for sweaty workouts.
5. A Yeti vacuum water bottle.
6. T-shirts and Henleys from &Sons Trading Co are classic and functional.
7. Athletic Greens powder.
8. A bottle of Sassenach whisky to share with friends old and new.
9. Tata Harper exfoliant and moisturizer for looking fresh on those early TV mornings!
10. CBD gummies to help me sleep when I’m jet-lagged.
Outlander was here: Drumlanrig Castle.
Sam Heughan’s Galloway
The new Sassenach Wild Scottish Gin from my company, Great Glen, is inspired by Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland, where I grew up. It’s a beautiful, untouched part of the country, with so much to offer, including a dark, intriguing history. The name “New Galloway” is derived from the Gaelic, meaning “strange Gael.” The locals spoke a different Gaelic to the rest of Scotland, probably due to the mix of Irish Gaels and Scandinavians that inhabited this remote area in the Middle Ages. It has ties to Robert the Bruce and to King Arthur legends, amongst others.
As a child I used to pick wild crabapples, which are the base for the citrus in our new gin. I lived in an old, converted stable called the Steadings on the estate of Kenmure Castle, which was the seat of the Lords of Galloway. On the grounds, in an ancient, overgrown garden, grew wild rhubarb that my mother would pick and turn into a delicious crumble or jam. We’ve also used it in our gin, and it brings rich fruit flavors.
Galloway is a creative place, home to many artists and musicians. Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, lived and died in the area in the eighteenth century. The CatStrand in New Galloway is an arts center that hosts many touring musicians and theater companies. Meanwhile, Drumlanrig Castle is a stunning pink palace with incredible gardens and works of art – I’ve worked there while filming Outlander. Galloway also has excellent mountain biking and almost 200 miles of coastline, with rocky coves and beaches. Monreith Beach is the most famous and close to Kirkmaiden, one of Scotland’s oldest churches. And from Galloway it’s only a short hop over the Solway Firth to Ireland. On a good day, you can see England, Ireland, and the Isle of Man from its many beaches.