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From seasoned palettes to adventurous newcomers, everyone is welcome. You won't be sniffed at for enjoying whisky your way, nor will you have to pay through the nose to sample some of the finest whiskies the world has to offer. This is about having fun and celebrating our national drink together in great company.

And while you don't have to wear even an inch of tartan - we wouldn't say no to a kilt or two! Don't like Whisky? Never tried it? We like to advise that there's always going to be something for everyone, as the character of the drink can change so drastically from region to region. Give it a try! Check out the events page for tickets and more info!

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The National Whisky Festival Team slainte nationalwhiskyfestival. Buy Tickets We're in bonny Aberdeen for the first time this year as the summer trails into autumn, with a festival that promises to delight whisky lovers both new-make and matured. Featuring over 30 exhibitors and over different whiskies to try all included in your ticket price!

As far as Scottish island distilleries go, Bowmore is practically urban. In the cement-floored malt barn, a single beam of light streaming through a small window gave the large, stark room the luminosity of a Vermeer painting. A man was pulling a rake-like instrument across a barley-strewn floor, making furrows so air could circulate through the germinating grains. Bowmore is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to use the old-fashioned floor-malting method. Today this part of the malting process is typically done in industrial-size drums at giant plants.

She removed a sturdy lock and unleashed a blast of heat and plume of smoke. Phenolic, savory aromas knocked me like a right hook. She motioned me into the haze. I sank into a knee-high bed of 21 tons of malted barley in the tennis-court-length kiln, where grain sits for 60 hours, absorbing smoky, savory essences from a peat-fueled fire burning underneath.

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I imagined Barnard would have let his stiff upper lip get in the way of such tomfoolery, so I laid down in the pillowy, fragrant barley and dedicated my angel to his guiding spirit. After wandering through the still house and the cold, dark warehouse known as the No. I sipped the year-old single malt, the youngest sample in the tasting flight of four — a softly peated drink that smelled of sea spray and grain.

Barley was delivered here when the distillery opened in We were greeted by the distillery manager, Michael Heads, a casual avuncular fellow with white hair who introduced himself as Mickey.

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He brought us to a neighboring building and led us through a long, sepia-hued chamber with deep empty wood vessels on either side of a narrow planked floor. The smell of peat from barley stored here in Victorian times still lingered in the air.

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An echo resounded when my pen dropped to the floor. There was an ethereal, old-world aura to the space. After being led through a few more equipment rooms, we emerged into a sunlit room with a pitched churchlike ceiling. In front of us were six huge washbacks, vessels in which yeast feasts on sugary solution, generating bubbly activity on the golden liquid surface as it turns starch into alcohol.

Long before trucks existed, the narrow pier right outside was the primary access to the rest of the world: Barley and yeast came off boats, whisky was sent out. It was easy to envision the ships in gridlock on the now bare waters. I peered down into the mash tun, a massive iron vessel where giant curved rakes revolved through seven tons of grist steeping in 21, liters or nearly 5, gallons of piping hot water, giving off a heady peat smell that called to mind a smoldering seaside campfire and hot tar.

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This porridge-like mix would become Octomore, the smokiest single malt on the planet. Spending time in a room heavily infused with the aroma of smoked grains cooking made my sweater smell like iodine and ashes for days. I found it delightful. A study in gears and grace, the nearly seven-foot deep mash tun is the stuff steampunk dreams are made of: a contraption of cast iron, steel and bronze. The nearly year-old machine is one of several pieces of equipment that was restored to its Victorian-era glory.

The distillery, which opened in , was abandoned in , then resurrected by an English wine merchant in Bruichladdich brooch-LAH-dee is a compact distillery, the smallest among the ones we visited. I followed a wood walkway, past six hulking pine washbacks, into the still house.

It was a hot, noisy chamber where a network of copper pipes connects the stills. Budgie, the stillman, was laser-focused on the spirit safe, a brass-framed, glass-paneled box that captures the proof spirit as it trickles off the still. He methodically measured alcohol levels and temperatures then shuffled over to a wobbly desk to record the data in a broad ledger. With bearlike hands, he wrote in tiny script with a fine-point pen. I later met Adam Hannett, the youthful, soft-spoken head distiller, who told me that Budgie started in Is that not quite something?

The craggy ruins of Dunyvaig Castle that captivated Barnard are still a vision of faded majesty as we approached Lagavulin, the last of the distilleries on my visit. The crash of the waves was drowned out by a mechanical rumble when my tour guide, Georgie Crawford, the distillery manager, led us into the mill room where a lofty antique-looking steel contraption pulverizes barley, a large portion of it peated, into a coarse powdery grist.

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It always amazes me that these fine particles will become elegant, complex Scotch whisky. Crawford, affable yet matter-of-fact, put a handful of milled grain on a screen in a shoebox-size, weathered wood box, shut it and shook it — 50 times up and down, 50 times side-to-side. It was merely , liters in the s. As a nod to that accolade, Lagavulin, on the occasion of its bicentennial in , reintroduced an eight-year-old single malt.