A land of tradition
Scotland is world famous for its whiskies, which are among the world's most revered spirits. Our landscape, our climate and the purity of our natural resources means there's a huge range of whiskies to experience.
The west coast of Scotland is a whisky lover's paradise and there's no finer way to explore its diverse range of distilleries than on board the CalMac fleet.
Scotland's beautiful and island-strewn west coast is synonymous with whisky, its tumbling glens and bountiful fresh, pure water are ideal for conjuring up some of the world's most famous drams. Join us as we set sail in search of the water of life (uisge beatha in Gaelic).
Old favourites and new additions
Kicking off in the south, the romantic otherworldly Kintyre Peninsula is home to Campbeltown, the only town in Scotland with its own whisky denomination. Once, more than 100 distilleries busied away here - today there are just two established distilleries in the shape of Glen Scotia and Springbank.
A little to the north, and a short ferry journey across the Kilbrannan Sound, lies Lochranza on the Isle of Arran, home to a relatively new distillery that started up in 1994 - it's already producing superb drams and has an excellent visitor centre.
An intense whisky tradition
Pushing west, our ferry trip arrives at Islay, Scotland's whisky isle. The island's famously peaty soil and water gives each of the eight Islay malts - Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain and little Kilchoman - a distinctively rich flavour. Many of the distilleries run tours, with Ardbeg also home to a superb shop and café.
A wee hop across the narrow Sound of Islay and Jura is home to less than 200 residents, more than 6,000 deer and the picture postcard perfect Isle of Jura Distillery.
A beautiful backdrop for sampling whiskies
We make a quick return to the mainland and Scotland's busiest ferry port, Oban, for our next destination. The Oban Distillery is a wee gem sitting right in the heart of town with an illuminating tour and shop. It's then back on board the CalMac boat for one of Scotland's most scenic ferry rides across to the Isle of Mull.
The island's pretty capital, Tobermory, is host to an eponymous distillery which makes the most of the island's sweet, fresh water.
Over the sea. To Skye.
The largest of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye, beckons next.
This majestic landscape of epic mountains and big skies offers up one of the most picturesque distilleries in the country. Talisker concocts a fiery, fruit-packed spicy dram in a whitewashed old distillery right on the water's edge in a remote corner of the island, with a top-notch tour too.
The Outer Hebrides across the Minch are, of course, famous for the Whisky Galore legend, book and film, but until recently they have not boasted a distillery of their own. All that has changed with Abhainn Dearg, the self-styled "first legal distillery in the
Outer Hebrides", which is now bottling single malts and new spirits.
And it doesn't end there - a new distillery on Harris is slated to open to the public next year.
But don't wait until 2015. Hop on a CalMac ferry and you'll soon be immersed in a world of breathtaking scenery and fabulous whiskies. Slainte!
Take advantage of our Whisky Hopscotch offer
Setting up a whisky adventure around Scotland's western mainland and islands couldn't be any easier. Our Whisky Hopscotch lets you, your fellow whisky devotees and any vehicle you are travelling in enjoy big discounts with a multi-journey pass.
There are three options depending on which route you take - the North Trail, South Trail or the all-encompassing Combined Trail. Passenger and driver prices start from only £14.05 for the North Trail through to £27.55 for the South Trail and £34 for the Combined Trail, with vehicle prices starting at £83 on the North Trail.