As nights start getting colder there is no better time to partake in a wee drop of Scotland's iconic dram. Whisky like tartan is popular at home and abroad, both are symbols of Scottish traditions as well as modern developments. The links between tartan and whisky can be seen in the developments of specific tartans. The MacLeod’s owned the Talisker distillery until 1831 and has several tartans registered, including Green MacLeod adopted by the clan society in 1910, and MacLeod Black and Red, registered in 1906. The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre also has its own tartan, as to some of the world’s most famous whisky producers: J&B Whisky, Haig & Haig Whisky, Johnnie Drambuie tartan (and even a Drambuie hunting tartan) a Glenronach tartan, a Glenlivt tartan and a DeWar's tartan. Ballantine’s brand tartan was created by textile design student Leisl Despy as part of a competition. The third biggest Scotch whisky in the world joined forces with Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design in London in the search for a modern tartan to epitomises the heritage of the brand. The competition, which was judged by Scottish artist Jack Vettriano and The Duke of Argyll with the winning tartan will be used on new packaging and items such as kilts and ties. The internationally acclaimed Ballantine’s range sells 5.3 million nine litre cases a year, making it the world’s third biggest whisky. What better way is there to celebrate than wearing a kilt, a bit of tartan plaid, or by sampling a good scotch whisky? You can also add to the occasion with a pewter Quaich or flask. Tartan and Whisky are not just for Scots having links further afield. Although the Tartan of Holland Single Malt Whisky comes from Orkney, Orkney was Scandinavian until the 17th century. The tartan created, Tartan of Holland combines the colours of the Netherlands national flag - red, white and blue - with orange, representing the Royal House of Orange. Its designer Dr Wishart pointed to growing support for Holland to have its own tartan: ‘About 5,000 whisky lovers attend the Dutch Whisky Festival in Leiden each November and many wear kilts for the occasion’ he said.


  Both tartan and whisky have a rich history which adds to their appeal. The Ancient Celts practised distilling to produce uisge beatha meaning ‘water of life’ which evolved into scotch whisky. By the 11th century distillation could be found in Christian monastic sites. Initially whisky, was lauded for its medicinal qualities for the relief of colic, palsy and even smallpox. It became an intrinsic part of Scottish life - a reviver during cold winters, and a welcome to be offered to guests upon arrival. Its increasing popularity attracted the attention of the Scottish parliament, which taxes on it during the17th century. Such taxes increased following The Act of Union with England in 1707, when England set out to tame the clans of Scotland. This year exports of scotch whisky surged by 22% in the first six months of the year, with the equivalent of 570m bottles of whisky sold overseas particularly in Asia and South America. Indeed the Scottish government's is looking to increase exports by 50% by 2017. We should also raise a glass to whisky’s other uses. The creation of awhisky-powered bioenergy plant is looking to power up to 9,000 homes to be powered with energy produced by burning waste from the whisky-making process. This new bioenergy venture involves some of Scotland's best-known distilleries. And last year, scientists at Napier University announced they had developed a method of producing biofuel from the by-products of the distilling process which could power cars and even aircraft! "From the information we have, the project looks to be a very welcome addition to Scotland's renewable industry. It is using waste products from our whisky industry which is eminently sensible thing to do”. It’s certainly something to mull over with a wee dram.