Visitors to enjoy a wee dram

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Its warm taste, subtle aroma and mahogany colour has fascinated drinkers for over 600 years; full of complexity and layered with flavours gleaned from long years of maturation, whisky, or "the water of life' has become synonymous with Scotland and is today one of the country's most recognisable national exports.

Over 40 distilleries are open to the public across Scotland offering visitors the opportunity to experience the whisky making process and sample the many different varieties of whisky on offer. With each distillery possessing its own setting, story and distinctive method of doing things, visitors can discover what makes every Scotch whisky unique. Throughout May 2011, whisky from Scotlands five whisky regions: Speyside, Islay, Lowlands, Highlands and Campbeltown are being showcased at a range of events which allow visitors to explore and indulge their passion for Scotch and meet the people who create that instantly recognisable taste. From 28 April to 2 May 2011, visitors to Speyside were able to celebrate the whisky, food, heritage and culture of Scotlands most abundant whisky region at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. An imaginative and extensive programme of whisky inspired events including behind–the–scenes distillery tours, food–pairing sessions and malt whisky trails allowed visitors to discover the magic behind Scotlands favourite tipple. Between 16–20 May, Portsoys Glenglassaugh Distillery is opening its doors and welcoming visitors to an exclusive behind–the–scenes tour of one of Scotlands most iconic single malt scotch whisky distilleries. Attendees can sample award–winning aged whiskies as well as younger spirit drinks and learn the story of the distilleries recent revival. Over the same period the Glenglassaugh Distillery is also offering visitors a unique opportunity to bottle their own two year old, bourbon matured Glenglassaugh spirit from a 50 litre octave. Following the bottling process from start to finish, including corking, labelling and authentication from distillery manager Graham Eunson, participants can take home their own authentic Glenglassaugh whisky. Feis Ile, the Islay Festival of Malt and Music will provide whisky and music fans with plenty to keep themselves entertained between 21–28 May. A food fayre, Gaelic lessons, Ceilidhs, gigs as well as whisky tasting sessions and distillery open days will light up the West Coast Island for this week of whisky themed events. The Scotch Whisky Experiences Amber Restaurant will be celebrating Scotlands Year of Food and Drink throughout May 2011 by showcasing its newly created whisky and food pairing. Using the very best of locally–sourced, seasonal Scottish produce and selecting the perfect tipple from a choice of Scottish malts, head chef Michael Neave and his team will be creating delicious combinations for visitors throughout the month of May. A new selection of Scottish tapas in Amber restaurant and a selection of almost 350 single malts, blends and liqueurs at the adjacent whisky bar will also be available. EventScotland is supporting Scotlands Year of Food and Drink, the first in a series of focus years highlighting some of Scotlands great assets as we journey towards 2014 and Scotlands next Year of Homecoming. For more information about EventScotlands contribution to Scotlands year of Food and Drink please visit www. eventscotland. org/foodanddrink

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