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Monday, 20 October 2008

Homecoming 09 - whisky!


SKYE'S DRAMS AND HOMECOMING

With Homecoming Scotland 2009 fast approaching, a 'come to the home of whisky in 2009' is one of themes that will be featured focusing on the Isle of Skye. A programme of hundreds of Homecoming festivals and events will take place in 2009 from Burns Night in January until St Andrews Day in November right across Scotland. These include Whisky Month in May followed by Whisky Week, running across Scotland between October 30th and November 6th.

VisitScotland Regional Director, Scott Armstrong, said: "This is a perfect opportunity to promote Skye to hundreds and thousands of potential visitors. In addition to its famous whisky distillery, Talisker, (www.discovering-distilleries.com/talisker) the area is full of culture and history which will please every type of visitor whatever their taste".

Whisky was the drink of choice in the Highlands from very early times, distilled for the chiefs and clansfolk alike. Whisky making on a small scale was widely practiced, with illegal stills only disappearing (probably!) after the legislation introduced in 1823. This ushered in the modern era of distilling with malt whisky becoming a flagship quality product and an important export for Scotland. Today, Scotland's whiskies are as varied and as characterful as its scenery. An events programme for 2009, which includes festivals and tutored tastings, explores the relationship between the landscape and Scotland's national drink.

Here are some facts on whisky in Scotland:

· There are two main types - malt and grain. Malt whisky, which connoisseurs claim has a more sophisticated flavour and bouquet and also more prestige, is made with malted barley. Grain whisky also contains malted barley, with unmalted barley and maize. Both types are used in the whisky blending process.

· Malt whiskies are sometimes classified into four main types: Highland, Lowland, Islay (from the island) and Campbeltown (meaning from the Mull of Kintyre). Even simpler is to think of two main categories: the malt whisky made in the east and north of Scotland, e.g. Speyside, which tend to be lighter or 'sweeter' than the other main area - island or western malts which often have an easily recognisable taste of peat-smoke.

· The Malt Whisky Trail is a unique signposted route through the valley of the River Spey. This takes in the main themes of whisky making, by way of seven working distilleries, one preserved distillery and a cooperage or barrel-maker.

· The Angels' Share. This is the name given to the drop in volume that occurs when whisky is maturing in barrels. More prosaically, it occurs because of evaporation through the wood and amounts to around 2% of the volume per year of storage.

· May 2009 – Whisky Month. From a tasting session at The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, to a three day whisky course in Fife, there are a range of ways to sample Scotland's national drink, with the varied events across Scotland focused on this month.

· Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Celebrate whisky, music, food and fun at the biggest ever Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Enjoy 10 days of unique events throughout Speyside's stunning scenery. Includes the Festival's Speyside Salute - a dramatic musical celebration of Speyside's heritage and traditions. 1-10 May, 2009.

· Spirit of the West. The rugged seaboard along the Whisky Coast trail is dramatic and magical. New for 2009, Spirit of the West showcases the very fabric of that coastline with its 16 distilleries. Join us at Inveraray Castle for whisky tastings, battle enactments and storytelling. 16/17 May, 2009.

· Whisky Galore Festival. The first ever on the beautiful island of Barra. Launching in Kisimul Castle, an exciting weekend is planned. Take part in the hunt for whisky on the island where the 1949 movie 'Whisky Galore' was filmed (released as 'Tight Little Island in the USA); enjoy the craic with the locals; or take part in the golf tournament. 18-20 September, 2009.

Further information can be found on www.homecomingscotland.com

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