IT is known as the “water of life” and is a much-loved tipple the world over.
And this month, the magic of whisky and our love affair with Scotland’s national drink is to be celebrated across the country, with festivals, tastings, parties and lots of cocktails.
As part of the Year of Food and Drink 2015, May has been declared Whisky Month, and a unique programme of events celebrating the “water of life” have been unveiled.
From scientific examination of the tipple to a full-blown knees-up, the events are designed to cater to every taste – quite literally.
According to VisitScotland, events which raise a glass to our national drink help to broaden the appeal of whisky.
Gone are the days when it was solely drunk by old men and only made an appearance on Hogmanay.
The number of women and young professionals who now have a taste for the drink is on the increase, with more and more attending whisky-themed events.
It is hoped Whisky Month – and World Whisky Day on May 16 – will boost this trend even further.
“Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, with visitors from all over the world coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram,” explains Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland’s chief executive. “It is fantastic to hear that events, tours and whisky experiences are now actively catering for a diverse range of enthusiasts.
“Widening the appeal of whisky amongst less traditional audiences is important if we want to encourage more visitors to come to Scotland, particularly during the Year of Food and Drink 2015. Events are a key part of that.”
Whisky month highlights in the Lothians
• Botanics Late: The Hive & The Still, Royal Botanic Garden, May 15, 7pm-10pm
What better way to celebrate whisky month than going along to the Lates adult-only event? Join top chefs, scientists and producers to explore what it is that makes two of our national products – whisky and honey – so distinct and diverse. Live entertainment, demonstrations and hands-on activities to get your creative juices flowing, will all take place within the unique atmosphere of the Botanics at night.
• Create: Eat: Whisky: Gayfield Creative Spaces, May 14-17
After last year’s hugely successful event, Create: Eat: Whisky is back.
This year, organisers are teaming up with Haig Club to create an immersive experience that puts whisky cocktails centre stage. Guests will take a journey through different multi-sensory settings and drink cocktails, each designed to match the different environments. Using sound, light, small edible items, aroma and other environmental factors, guests will be transported from mountain top to roaring fire, with an unexpected final destination.
• Whisky Stramash: Surgeon’s Hall, May 23 and 24
The Whisky Stramash is an encounter of many elements and experiences; you can expect the opportunity to sample a huge array of amazing whiskies from Scotland and abroad. The Stramash is an event of mystery, entertainment, comicality and madcap pioneering.
• World Whisky Day official event: The Devil’s Cut, Angel’s Share Hotel, Hope Street, May 16
Be part of the official 2015 World Whisky Day event by joining in with a night of whisky, cocktails and music. Revellers will receive a complimentary drink on arrival and can sample a dram while enjoying music by Edinburgh-based gypsy jazz band, Viper Swing, and later funk and soul fusion from Shaka Loves You.
Not only can you be part of the official 2015 World Whisky Day event by celebrating with whisky cocktails, drams and music, but whisky lovers new and old have the opportunity to participate in a trio of unique tasting sessions:
1 Join founder of World Whisky Day, Blair Bowman, on a global journey through his favourite international whiskies.
2 Sample five treasures from within Dewar’s Last Great Malts range. One lucky taster will have the opportunity to win a bottle from the range.
3 Steven Shard, shop manager of new Scottish drinks venture, Castlehill Whisky, will take you on a regional tour of the heartland of whisky, one Scotch at a time. Tasters will start with an introductory dram of premium blended whisky, a blended malt and three single malt whiskies including an unusual cask matured offering, some independently bottled obscurities and a cask strength stonker! All will be available for purchase at Castlehill Whisky, and tasting ticket holders will receive an exclusive £5 discount on any one 70cl bottle they sample at the tasting.
Throughout the evening, guests will have the opportunity to win bottles of whisky and bourbon by tweeting and posting on Facebook and Instagram. Plus, every ticket holder will be entered into a draw to win a bottle of Aultmore 25-year-old worth £300, produced in limited quantities. The winner will be announced on the evening.
• Access all areas: The Scotch Whisky Experience, Castlehill, May 16
World Whisky Day gives visitors to The Scotch Whisky Experience a chance to live the high life. A gold tour ticket always entitles the holder to membership of “The Scotch Whisky Appreciation Society”, with a tray of four regional single malts. However, on World Whisky Day they will also be whisked up to the newly refurbished private events suite, where they will sip their drams amidst specially commissioned whisky art installations in the rooms where the world’s top Master Blenders gather every year to judge the International Spirits Competition. If anyone feels inspired to upgrade their whiskies to suit their surroundings, a special “deluxe” gold tour will be available, with four unusual edition single malts and a chocolate pairing.