Scotland's Whisky Distilleries
ABOVE: Ruined church on the Isle of Islay,
where seven distilleries produce distinctive single-malt whiskies.
whisky has been distilled, in one form or another, since Celtic times. The Scotch Whisky Association writes:
Throughout the centuries, Whisky has become inextricably woven into
the fabric of Scotlands history, culture and customs. This has not been without its
hardships. Around the time of the Act of Union with England in 1707, whisky production was
effectively driven underground to evade excessive levels of taxation, a tax problem still
faced today. For well over a hundred years, the distillers fought a series of bloody
skirmishes with the excisemen.
In 1823, the Excise Act was passed, sanctioning distilling in exchange for a fee. Since
then, Scotch Whisky has established itself as the worlds leading national drink. It
has developed - from uncertain origins and through turbulent times - to become the
colourful creation we know today, with a richly-flavoured history to match.
Today, Scotch isn't just a tipple. It's also a tourist attraction, with
more than 40 distilleries welcoming individual visitors or groups. Some charge admission,
others credit shop purchases against the ticket price, while some--among them,
Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Laphroaig--are free.
If you'd like to visit one or more distilleries while touring Scotland,
keep these tips in mind:
Plan ahead. Hours and admission policies vary, so check
the links on page 2 for visitors'
Allow plenty of time. In distilleries that offer formal tours,
the pace is set by the tour guide.
Don't look for mass-market brands. Popular whiskies (including
some highly regarded labels) are "blended" or "vatted" to a recipe,
using spirits that may come from more than one source. They may be fine whiskies, but they
seldom if ever have their own distilleries.
Don't drink and drive. If you're offered a sample at the end of
the tour, say "No, thanks" to undrunk drams from the teetotalers in your group
unless someone else is driving.
Whisky and distillery Web links
Continued on page 2