Originally from the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, meaning ‘water of life’, whisky has been distilled in Scotland for hundreds of years.
Since then, whisky has become a cultural asset for the nation, and in 2015 was reported to be worth approximately £5 billion to the UK economy. A substantial figure though perhaps not a surprising one considering the love for “Scotch” across the globe.
Despite Scottish Whisky being renowned worldwide for its taste, much of that significantly depends on the region of the country and distillery in which they are produced. For example, coastal whiskies tend to be influenced by the sea, giving them a refined, salty taste. Lowland malts generally taste light and fruity, whereas whiskies from the highlands are usually associated with a smokier, peat taste.
Scotland’s whisky production is commonly split into is split into five regions:
With a global demand for our malts, there are approximately 100 active distilleries across these 5 regions in Scotland, each with their own unique and interesting history. The West Coast itself is a proud home to a number of these, and are certainly worth a visit for whisky enthusiasts!
Tobermory Whisky Distillery
Mull’s own Tobermory Whisky Distillery for example is one of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland, having been in operation since 1798. Situated in a tranquil harbour in an area known as Ledaig, the distillery is the producer of the Tobemory Single Malt Scotch Whisky, a fresh, smooth, medium dry malt! As the only distillery on Mull, Tobermory Whisky Distillery welcomes around 8000 visitors every year, and is open from 10am – 5pm most of the year. A great day out for all whisky lovers!
The Oban Distillery
Heading back East towards the mainland, Oban is also the proud home to another fantastic distillery. Having originally been built in 1794, and then rebuilt in 1883, The Oban Distillery produces the 14-year-old West Highland Malt whisky, and attracts 35,000 visitors every year via its guided tours offering, which includes an insightful description of Oban’s history!
Springbank Whisky Distillery
Another great distillery on our western coast is Springbank Whisky Distillery, situated in Campbeltown, the once proclaimed “whisky capital of the world”. Established in 1828, Springbank pride themselves as one of the only distilleries that produces single malt whisky using traditional methods, with every stage of the production process overseen by members of the Springbank team.
This is another excellent day out for whisky lovers, especially if you love a well balanced malt, but make sure to book an appointment for a tour with the team at Springbank before visiting to avoid disappointment!
Whisky is not only an asset for our national economy, it is an asset for our reputation as a nation. Anywhere us Scots travel to around the world, it’s hard to avoid a conversation about our proud malts. Much like many of the distilleries scattered across Scotland, the likes of Tobermory, Oban, and Springbank each have their own unique story waiting to be told. And whether you’re a whisky enthusiast or not, a trip west to uncover their history can certainly make for a wonderful time away with friends or family!