Immerse yourself in the water of life.
It’s the water of life, and Scotland’s national drink has devotees in more than 170 countries.
Now those who love whisky can raise a glass or two for a special reason over the next few weeks.
The Year of Homecoming 2014 sees events all year alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. And a lip-smacking part is Whisky Month, which has just kicked off.
There are 19 funded events that are expected to attract 70,000 visitors across the country.
They include the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which runs until tomorrow, and the new Highland Perthshire Whisky Festival, taking place in Pitlochry from May 23 to 25.
More established is Feis Ile, The Islay Festival of Malt and Music, which marks its 30th anniversary this year and encompasses all eight of the island’s famous distilleries.
City dwellers will love Glasgow’s Homecoming Whisky Festival at The Arches, with 40 stands offering some of the nation’s best drams on May 17. But while the events will attract visitors throughout May, Scotland’s distilleries are worth a look at any time.
Here’s some of the gems and associated beauties worth a visit and taste!
With eight distilleries, you’ll be spoiled for choice on this beautiful island. Bunnahabhain has weekday tours throughout the year, with Saturdays from June to September.
The tasting tour lets you sample three of the finest single malts. Laphroaig’s tours include a commemorative glass.
Devotees may fancy the Water to Whisky experience where you visit the water source, have a picnic lunch, cut some peats and then tour the distillery.
Bruichladdich offers tours six days a week, and Sundays until August. Tours end with a dram (or two) of malt whisky.
Island hop to Skye and you’ll find a different flavour at the Talisker Distillery.
There are weekday tours over the winter months, stepping up to Saturdays from the spring and then finally Sundays, too, once summer arrives.
Advanced booking is advised as tour sizes are limited.
At Tobermory Distillery there are a variety of tours to tempt the palate, from the standard tour, through the classic and finally a hidden treasure tasting tour.
Back on the mainland, Oban Distillery has seven-day opening for much of the year although you should check in advance and a couple of good tour options.
Prime among these is the exclusive tour that includes access to the warehouse and tutored nosing and tasting in the manager’s office.
There’s also Springbank in Campbeltown which is the oldest independent family-owned distillery in Scotland.
Leaving Campbeltown behind, catch a ferry to Jura from the Kennacraig terminal.
There may be only one distillery on Jura but, like the island, it’s a real treat as George Orwell discovered when he wrote 1984 there.
He’s been followed since by other celebrated writers, such as No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novelist, Alexander McCall Smith, who have penned works as part of the Jura Malt Whisky Writers in Residence Programme.
There are four bottlings in the Jura Collection created at the distillery, which you can tour, but there is another potential spirit to discover.
The distillery opened a lodge seven years ago with the aim of embodying the character of the island.
There are magnificent views, a music room and allegedly a resident ghost.
Half of Scotland’s distilleries are in Speyside, thanks to the granite hills and peat moors which give the malts a refined smokiness.
Get a flavour at Benromach Distillery in Forres where there is both a standard welcome tour and a more detailed essential tour.
There’s also an in-depth manager’s tour that includes a tutored tasting of at least four whiskies.
For a look behind the scenes of one of the giants, you’ll find Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown open seven days a week, throughout the year.
There is free admission for a couple of the tours and also a restaurant and bar to make more of your visit.
In the Lowlands, there are a couple of options worth a look to find out why whiskies here tend to be lighter, softer and mellower.
Just outside Glasgow, in Clydebank, is the Auchentoshan Distillery which welcomes visitors daily right throughout the year.
You can choose from several different tours with four departure times daily working right up to their Ultimate Experience. And you can even bottle your own Auchentoshan.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe