The national drink of Scotland is produced at distilleries throughout the country, with more than 100 different brands offering single malt, single grain, and varieties of blended Scotch. Scotland’s five whisky-producing regions of Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland, and Speyside each feature distinctive flavors, influenced by the water and local environment.

The Scottish government has created a number of regulations that apply to the production of Scotch whisky. First, the whisky must be made in Scotland. It must be composed of malted barley and water, although other whole grains may be added. However, no additives are permitted other than water and caramel coloring. The whisky must be aged in Scotland in oak barrels for at least three years, and the alcohol by volume (ABV) must be less than 94.8%.

With the increasing interest in all types of distilled spirits, travelers are making plans to see the places where their favorites are produced. That will mean more visitors to Scotland’s historic distilleries, many several centuries old. The earliest record of whisky production dates back to an entry on the 1494 Exchequer Rolls.

The Harbour of Oban and the Mccaig's Tower reflecting in the Water

Credit: Susanne Neumann/Getty Images

The Oban distillery, located in the coastal resort town of Oban, has been producing single-malt Scotch whisky since 1794. They’ve missed the many visitors who pass through their town and distillery each year, so they’re offering a Sweepstakes that will provide two lucky winners (21+) with a fully expensed trip to Oban. The visit will include a stay at the Oban Abode, an apartment crafted by distillery worker Derek Maclean. A VIP distillery experience and a variety of local activities will also be included. The deadline to enter is Sept. 2, 2021.

You might enjoy a pre-dinner Scotch on the rocks or a post-dinner Scotch neat in honor of National Scotch Day. Or you may prefer a Scotch-based cocktail like a Rusty Nail (with Drambuie) or a Rob Roy, a Manhattan-style drink using Scotch instead of rye or bourbon. While you may not often think of Scotch whisky along with food, there are quite a few pairings that work very well.

Dark chocolate works with most Scotch whiskeys, as do nuts, cheeses, and meats. I recently enjoyed GlenDronach 12-year-old single-malt Scotch with an aged Manchego cheese, and it was delicious. The zesty crispness of the cheese and the slight sweetness of the Scotch blended perfectly, no crackers needed. A handful of salted cashews was tasty with the Scotch as well.

Perhaps the ideal pairing would be a glass of Scotch, a snack, and a travel brochure, the beginnings of a memorable visit to the source of the spirit that’s enjoying a popular resurgence — centuries after its creation.

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