Scotch By Nino Marchetti / April 30, 2014 If you are wondering where I’ve been of late, I took a few days off to explore some home whiskey aging projects, which I’ll share more information on as I get them up and running. For now, if you happen to be in Scotland reading this, or are planning on going to Scotland during the month of May, you’ll want to know it is Whisky Month there starting tomorrow and there are plenty of planned activities to keep you roaming the Scottish countryside for days to come.A news release from Visit Scotland details the major highlights of what’s happening, and I’ve included it below for your reference. Also of note is the Whisky Month website, which includes more information on everything that’s happening in a “diverse range of events that spread across the country, explore Scottish landscape, food and culture through whisky and discover the unique characteristics of Scotland’s whisky regions with behind-the-scenes experiences and distillery tours.”With a diverse range of unmissable whisky events, fantastic festivals, special tours and tastings, Whisky Month invites visitors and locals to sample Scotland’s national drink as well as explore both the traditional and contemporary blend of stories, circumstances, provenance and science behind our vast array of marvellous malts.The month long programme of events celebrating Scotland’s world class food, drink, music and culture across Scotland kicks off Thursday 1 May, with the popular and picturesque Spirit of Speyside Festival (1-5 May). Now in its 15th year, the festival will launch a brand new event for 2014 – The Spirit of Speyside Sessions will place the spotlight on the area’s traditional music heritage with concerts and ceilidhs being staged in venues closely linked to the whisky industry. The Festival will also be asking whisky lovers around the world to raise a dram to the women who are shaking up the industry and breaking into the boys’ club with a global day of celebration as part of the first ever International Women of Whisky Day (May 3).Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead said:“Scotland is a modern, dynamic nation with a rich heritage, a global reach and confident of our place in the world and with that Scotch Whisky is one of our most iconic products with a huge global demand.“I am delighted that we have a month that showcases our world famous drink and I am particularly looking forward to the four week celebration, which will kick off for me at the Spirit of Speyside Gala Dinner at Glen Grant Distillery on 1 May. It is estimated that up to 50 million people world-wide can claim Scottish ancestry, and many more have a connection with Scotland through visiting, working or studying in Scotland. It’s therefore even more special that we have this month during this second Year of Homecoming where Scots at home and abroad can toast their heritage with a dram of Scotland’s finest.”“From Shetland to Wigtown, Islay to Edinburgh, there are a number of fantastic events going on to celebrate our national drink; a drink which is part of our history and our future. Whisky is a product which Scotland is famous for and it has acted as a global trailblazer for Scotland’s spectacular range of iconic food and drink products.”James Campbell, Director and Chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, said, “It is an incredible honour for the 15th Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival to be chosen as the launch event for Whisky Month in this Year of Homecoming. We are very proud of the fact that in 15 years the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has grown to become one of the world’s leading whisky festivals, and that the rest of Scotland is joining in the celebration of our national drink in May. The 2014 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme is packed with more than 370 whisky-based events, with many focusing on how it has influenced the landscape, food, folklore of Scotland. Music too will play a prominent role as this year we launch the Spirit of Speyside Sessions, a world-class music event celebrating the area’s rich music heritage.”Opening Whisky Month events also include The Angels Craft at Eden Brewery in St Andrews (1-10 May), Jazz and a Dram which forms part of the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival (2-5 May), Exel’s Home of Whisky Festival in Perth (3 May) and a pop-up ‘Culture and Cocktails’ event in Aberdeen (3 May) celebrating the best in African food, drink and entertainment. Charles Maclean, world-renowned whisky writer and star of Scottish film The Angels’ Share, will also be doing a question and answer session with VisitScotland to celebrate Whisky Month. Questions on whisky can be submitted via Twitter to @VisitScotland from 1 May – 4 May using hashtag #AskWhisky. Charles will answer a selection of the questions in a blog at VisitScotland.com/blog on 9 May.The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh will open its doors to non-members kicking off a kaleidoscope of food and drink events with some of Scotland’s finest producers this May. Guests will be asked to leave their swords at the door as the Society presents an authentic Clan Feast in The Vaults in Leith (1 May). Along with discovering your own whisky clan between a three-course Clan Feast, guests will be entertained with a buffalo butchery demonstration from The Buffalo Farm.Mark van der Vijver, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society said, “Whisky Month provides an exciting opportunity for businesses to innovate and showcase whisky through the celebration of food and drink. The Society’s Clans and Drams Festival will challenge all enthusiasts’ preconceptions, as we unleash 12 unique whisky clans. Visitors can access all UK venues during May and discover their true kindred spirit through a series of impressive whisky events and experiences, along with the full range of the Society’s single cask whiskies.”The National Piping Centre in Glasgow has created a brand new event to celebrate the arrival of Whisky Month. The special Whisky Pairing and Piping evenings, which kick off on 1 May and run on the 8, 15 and 22 May will highlight the connection between traditional Scottish music and whisky.Those attending Jelly and Gin’s Create: Eat: Whisky at a former Nestle condensed milk factory in Edinburgh (14-20 May) and Marrying Malts and Molecules in Glasgow (24 May) will be treated to a ‘sensational’ experience. Taking in the journey of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch – the events will take guests on a multi-sensory whisky journey like no other.Whisky Galore a Musical! is back on tour for 2014 in celebration of Whisky Month. Based on the true life event of the SS Politician running aground off Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides during WW2, the show will travel across Scotland starting in Tobermory on 7 May and will take in a number of locations including Fort William, Perth, Inverness, Ullapool, ending on 31 May on the Isle of Islay. Whisky, Words and Wisdom Festival (various dates in May) will have events through the whole month of May celebrating Scotland’s food and drink together with food for the mind and soul – music, poetry, art, nature, history and mystery.The brand new Tummel and Tay Whisky Festival taking place in Pitlochry (23 – 25 May) will also have a full programme of events including film screenings, exhibitions and a superb new production of the musical ‘Whisky Kisses.’ Feis Ile – Islay Festival of Malt and Music (24 May -1 June) will raise its very own glass to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The island-wide festival will encompass all eight of Islay’s famous distilleries with many more events popping up in venues across the island throughout the week in a perfect marriage of music and malts – a whisky lover’s paradise.Glasgow’s Homecoming Whisky Festival will take place at The Arches on 17 May. With over 40 stands, set within five atmospheric stone arches, the festival will give attendees the chance to sample some of Scotland’s best drams as well as whiskies from around the globe. Spirit of Stirling 2014 (9 & 10 May) will represent all of Scotland’s whisky regions alongside a packed programme of master classes and tasting sessions, this sell-out success year on year has been enlarged especially for Whisky Month.World Whisky Day (17 May) will invite everyone to try a dram no matter where they are in the world. With over 15,000 participants already signed up from over 27 countries, and counting, the special day celebrating the water of life is set to be a dramtastic event! On the 17th May, the Loch Fyne Food Fair at Cairndow will celebrate both World Whisky Day and Whisky Month with a brand new Whisky Connections Tent featuring cooking demonstrations, talks and presentations, exploring new and traditional links between food and the water of life.Gordon Castle Highland Games (18 May) will celebrate the Year of Homecoming with the introduction of a brand new Food and Drink Court promoting the very best local produce and the finest Speyside Whiskies. Edinburgh’s Whisky Stramash will take place towards the end of the month (24-25 May) at Surgeons Hall. Appealing to those with an appetite for adventure, as well as whisky – the popular and quirky event will showcase new ways to enjoy whisky with madcap molecular mixology stations as well as bringing famous whisky brands to life with immersive and interactive experiences.Each day throughout May, Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience will profile a different distillery and mirror the Speyside and Islay festivals for people who want to experience the festival feeling in the capital. Distilleries include Aberlour, Glenkinchie, Bunnahabhain, Tullibardine and Tamdhu. Abhainn Dearg, Scotland’s most westerly distillery, will also be hosting whisky-tasting sessions from May 26-31. The tasting sessions will coincide with the opening of a new shop at Abhainn Dearg.