THINK of a traditional Scottish whisky tour, and it's highly likely your mind is transported to the ribboning tarmac of Speyside, the unspoilt views of the North Sea, and the jet-laden skies of Lossiemouth.

But I'm heading on a tour with a difference. One that begins in Glasgow, charts the Sound of Mull and concludes at some of the finest and remote single malt whisky distilleries the Inner Hebrides have to offer.

To get there, I'll need a boat and a set of wheels to transport me from the traffic-clogged streets of Scotland's largest city - and what better way to traverse the route than by motorcycle?

The bike in question is Honda's magnificently retro CB1100 RS, which fuses 1970s style with a thoroughly modern 1100cc inline four-cylinder engine, four piston brake calipers, and a stunning LED lights.

Once collected from the centre of Glasgow, I take the A82 towards the shores of the stunning Loch Lomond.

However, there's no time to stop and admire the staggering views, as I have a date with some arguably more breathtaking panoramas that are only accessible by boat, as this trip is designed to showcase the breadth of Honda's vehicular offerings.

The thumping engine of the big Honda burbles away beneath me, with every twist of the right wrist unleashing a deep bellow from the exhaust pipes and another squirt of pace.

In sixth gear, the bike happily cruises at the legal limit of 60mph on these meandering Scottish roads, but should traffic ahead start to slow, it's simply a case of clicking down a gear, hammering the throttle and breezing past.

The A82 curves around Lomond's vast body of water and soon meets the A85, which might just rocket to the top of my list of the 'greatest riding roads in the world'.

Undulations, challenging corners and long, expansive straights means it offers everything a keen motorcyclist could ask for - although I'd highly recommend a stop in The Artisan Cafe just before Tyndrum before you tackle it.

This hidden gem is housed inside an old church just off the A82 and offers a much-needed bowl of hot soup, cheese scone and arguably the finest home-made carrot cake that has ever passed my lips.

Better by boat

After two-and-a-half hours of solid riding (and a bit of cake-scoffing), I finally arrive at the Dunstaffnage Marina in Dunbeg, just north of Oban.

It is here that the team from Highfield Marine are set to show off their latest line of aluminium Deluxe and Patrol aluminium-hull Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs).

The sleek watercraft is powered by Honda's range of powerful and ultra-reliable marine engines, with the most potent of all the craft available here packing a monster 200hp outboard motor.

A quick brimming of the fuel tanks and we set off on our first destination of Tobermory, navigating the Sound of Mull to reach the first of several remote whisky distilleries planned on this adventure.

The skies are clear and the sun is shining but the temperature out on the open water rarely gets above 14-degrees, while the wind-chill factor makes it bite harder.

The scenic route travelled on the motorcycle means there's little time for me to change into boating attire, so I enjoy training my camera on the local seals and seabirds from the comfort of my thick motorcycle waterproofs.

The whisky trail

Some will recognise the colourful waterfront of Tobermory from the children's TV show Balamory, which entertained a generation of nippers from in the early-2000s.

But it's also the site of a famous single malt Scotch whisky distillery that has been operating on the Isle of Mull since 1798, with current owners, Burns Stewart Distillers, offering fascinating tours and all-important tasting sessions.

With the motorcycle neatly tucked away back on the mainland for the foreseeable, I have the chance to savour the smoky flavours and rich tones of the Tobermory 10 and 14-year old single malts, while taking in the gorgeous aromas of the cask room.

Hunt hard enough and it's possible to purchase a heavily sherried number from the 1970s, but there are only 650 bottles in existence and, unsurprisingly, the staff aren't keen on punters sampling a 'wee dram' of that.


After a solid day navigating both land and sea, it's time to head back and turn in at the Perle Oban Hotel, located in the centre of this quaint little harbour town.

Following hearty plates from the suitably titled Cuan Mor restaurant (Gaelic for 'big ocean') and a restful night's sleep, we rise early for the second part of our boat-based distillery tour.

The sound of Honda's powerful marine engines idling greet us at the marina (luckily, the Honda CB1100 RS is also still parked up safely), and we jump on-board for a long and buttery-smooth ride south towards Islay.

We speed past fishing vessels, day boats and enormous luxury yachts, only stopping to sample the Strait of Corryvreckan - regarded as the third largest whirlpool in the world.

It proves the perfect opportunity to see exactly what these powerful Honda Marine engines are capable of, as we gleefully bounce around the tidal race that reaches speeds of up to 10mph beneath us.

Luckily, the conditions are particularly favourable, as standing waves of more than 30ft have been recorded here in the past - a freak of nature that should be avoided by even the most capable crafts.

Death well and truly diced with, we head towards the Caol Ila Distillery on the Isle of Islay for our first whisky tasting of the day, but not before spotting the dorsal fin of Minke whale playing in the waters.

Festival spirits

It just so happens to be the Feis Ile, or the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, when we arrive - a week-long event that attracts whisky-lovers from across the globe with the promise of access-all-areas distillery tours, free tasting and great music.

We moor up near the Bunnahabhain Distillery, which is blaring out live music and teasing with the delicious smells of wood-fired pizza, roasted lamb and, of course, malt whiskey.

Food consumed, good times had and coffee knocked back, it's time to return to the mainland and enjoy the A85 one last time, before the CB1100 RS has to be returned to its home at Victor Devine Honda in Glasgow.

This trip wouldn't have been possible without the navigational skills of the Highfield Marine team, the power of Honda's marine engines and a retro-modern motorcycle marvel.

As I board the plane that will transport me back home, the words of Highfield Marine's director Steve Harrison ring in my ears: "You could spend your entire life exploring these small islands off the coast of Scotland and never see everything".

That sounds like the perfect excuse to return to me.