Whether you like it neat, or on the rocks, get ready to tip your tumbler in honour of the water of life during World Whisky Day on May 19.
Theresa Szejwallo, MD of Trafalgar and CostSaver South Africa shares some experiences in Scotland and Ireland to try.
There’s something magical about venturing through the rugged Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Skye, Orkney Islands and Loch Ness during autumn and winter. Bundle up in a tartan scarf next to the fire while listening to the legends of William Wallace and Rob Roy. Learn about caber tossing, bagpipes and more while tucking into steaming dishes of haggis
Notable landmarks: Scottish history is also good craic — spitting on The Heart of Midlothian, witnessing the ancient burial ground of Rèilig Odhrain, and the grounds of Stirling Castle. Drive through Glencoe, Glen of the Weeping on to Fort William, and visit a real Highland sheep farm, just before a visit to the picturesque Pitlochry on the banks of the river Tummel.
Whisky tasting: From single malt, single grain and blended malt Scotch whisky, the art of whisky-making runs in their blood. From endless tasting opportunities in the city centres (Glengoyne Whisky Distillery in Glasgow) and along the Whisky Trail of world-famous distilleries which goes all the way to Loch Ness, where you’ll be sure to see Nessie after a few drams. The Scots are also just as passionate about their national beers, from perennial favourites like Innis & Gunn to Deuchars IPA.
Festival fun: During the month of August The Edinburgh Tattoo is a must-see event. Held at Edinburgh Castle, it involves a vibrant performance from military bands from around the world as well as the best in Scottish dancing.
The land of shamrocks, Guinness and Father Ted, Ireland is well worth a visit in the spring when the Irish flowers are at their very best, and the melting ice reveals its signature bottle-green countryside. If you’re there in autumn and winter, the best place to warm up is at one of the town’s pubs where you can rub shoulders with the locals and enjoy the craic.
Notable landmarks: See more of the Dublin’s historic attractions such as Trinity College, the Monument of Light, Parnell Square and St Stephen's Green. Secure your gift of the gab with a Blarney kiss, admire the Irish landscapes along the Cliffs of Moher. Visit traditional weavers in the town of Donegal where you also view the 15th century castle. Stop at Drumcliffe to view the grave of renowned Irish poet W.B Yeats, and admire the quaint harbour town of Mullaghmore.
Whiskey tasting: Irish whiskey is mostly triple distilled which makes it renowned for its smoothness. Unlike Scottish whisky, it is also more likely to be made up of a combination of grains, and not just barley. Head to the infamous Jameson Distillery in Dublin in your free time, as well as Tullamore’s and Kilbeggan Distillery located an hour north.
Festival fun: Traditionally St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 marks the death of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Nothing beats celebrating with real Irish people, in a sea of green, in the heart of Dublin, with a pint of Guinness in your hand.