TOMORROW the Herald on Sunday launches a festive whisky guide - your comprehensive guide to everything Scotch-related at Christmas, with a profusion of gift ideas, hints and tips - and a competition with some absolutely stunning whiskies as prizes.

We're also giving away some luxury whisky getaways and exclusive tours of distilleries.

Here, whisky experts and knowledgeable enthusiasts talk about their favourite dram.

Michael McLaren, director at whisky packaging company, McLaren Packaging

LONGMORN 16-year-old is my choice. Longmorn is often referred to in the distilling community as every distiller’s second favourite dram after their own, such is the quality of this “hidden gem”. The distillery is located on the outskirts of Elgin, Speyside and the 16-year-old variant superseded the 15-year-old which was outstanding. The spirit is intense, full flavoured and fruity, matured in ex-bourbon casks. The whisky is above strength (48% abv) and non-chill filtered, which combine to give a full, rich mouth-feel. An absolute delight to drink and one every whisky enthusiast should have in their repertoire.

Donald McKinnon, managing partner at Wylie & Bisset Chartered Accountants

PERSONALLY I find, like fine wines, that there is often a snobbery attached to single malt whisky; it must be great if it’s expensive or fantastic if it’s really old. In my opinion this is simply not true as everyone’s palate is different. In fact, whisky is very much a mood drink. As a good Islay man once told me, whenever he was asked what his favourite whisky was his standard response would be ‘it’s 20% the whisky, 40% the company and finally 40% based on who’s paying!’ I find the best way, therefore, to drink whisky is with good company over what I like to call a session dram. We are lucky at Wylie and Bisset where we have our very own whisky club and that has given me the opportunity to sample many good drams. However, the one that stands out most for all of the above reasons is The Laddie Classic from the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, which is truly authentic and is the only distillery on the island that also bottles on the island - think of all that water, salty Atlantic air maturing the whisky over many years.’

Ajay Kumar, owner and executive chef of Swadish, Scottish Curry Champion at the SPICE Awards.

MY favourite Scotch is the Caol Ila. It's the whisky from Island of Islay. I love it for its smoky aroma and its peat. Its still very smooth and olive-like taste make it my favourite. I like the 12-year mature one. You can always find a full bottle in my whisky selection as I totally devour this single malt whisky. It's the first whisky option that I ask if I am out in a restaurant or hotel.

Iain McAlister, master distiller and distillery manager of Glen Scotia.

As the master distiller and distillery manager of Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown, indeed as a native of this small but very important town in the whisky world, I am both incredibly proud of my home town’s historical pedigree and the whisky that we produce. My favourite dram is Glen Scotia’s Double Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky, a wonderful example of a classic Campbeltown malt representing a formidable pedigree of whisky making since 1832. The whisky starts life in first fill bourbon barrels followed by a short time in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks to produce this outstanding malt whisky. Made by the present team it provides the perfect balance of rich spicy fruits, overlaid with the characteristic vanilla oak, sea spray and subtle oiliness for which Glen Scotia distillery is famous, so whilst this whisky has all the characteristics of a true Campbeltown dram, importantly it has all the hallmarks of a whisky handcrafted by people who matter - the team.

Gordon Macdonald, MSP for the Edinburgh Pentlands Constituency and co-convener of the cross-party group at Holyrood on Scotch whisky.

I have had an interest in malt whisky most of my adult life both as a collector and a consumer. My dram of choice has changed over the years and indeed can change on a weekly basis depending on my mood. However, there is one malt that has always been one of my favourites – Springbank 10 year old Campbeltown whisky. An often-forgotten-about whisky region, Campbeltown was once home to 30 distilleries but today there are only three. Sitting at home listening to the trees swaying in the wind and sipping Springbank single malt, with its hint of the sea, takes me back to Machrihanish beach where I had my first taste of malt whisky many years ago.

John McCheyne, master brand ambassador for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, who was recently been inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich

The wonderful thing about the SMWS is that we have new flavour discoveries every month. I’ve had many favourites, but currently it’s 112.38: Away with a citrus soufflé. It’s 14 years old, one of only 274 bottles drawn from a single cask, and recalls orange marmalade in a dusty warehouse, with a spicy finish of ginger and peppercorn. It’s from the Highland region, but not far from my home town of Glasgow, where we’ll welcome the latest SMWS Members’ Room early next year. It’s a great time for everyone at this side of the M8 to delve into our range of Christmas membership offers!

Andrew Clark, assistant editor, Herald on Sunday

Caol Ila Unpeated is my choice. I’ve loved Caol Ila – a peaty Islay whisky – ever since I first came across it 20 years ago. It’s the dram I choose at the end of the day, when I put my feet up after the chaos of the day has subsided.

But the unpeated versions are weird; the same but somehow more. The first time I tried it, 10 years or so ago, was like meeting the twin I never knew my best mate had … and finding out I liked the twin better. It’s not cheap, but unpeated Caol Ila is fun, interesting, exciting, unusual … and spectacularly tasty. Find it, try it … and love it!

Kirsteen Campbell, master whisky maker at The Macallan

For my Christmas Day dram, I’m thinking Christmas flavours and aromas, which is taking me towards Naked Grouse, a blended malt matured in sherry casks. It really takes on those Christmas cake aromas of dried fruit, spices and citrus peels. It’s also a nice smooth dram.

Stephen Mallon, Director of Mosaic Architecture + Design, which recently submitted planning applications for the conversion and change of use of the former Teacher building at St Enoch Square, Glasgow into a whisky-themed bar/restaurant.

They say drinking Guinness in Dublin is different from anywhere else in the world and I feel the same about Islay whisky. But where to start and what about the choice?

It’s close, but for me the distillery is Bruichladdich, close to a venue of memorable Easter Holidays and a welcoming stop in the well-stocked shop for a dram at the end of a long refreshing walk with the dog.

They have many great whiskies, but for me the distinctive turquoise tin of The Classic Laddie allied to the fresh, floral and easy style of the whisky brings back memories of enjoying the views and fresh air and sharing a dram in the company of friends and family.

It is an unpeated whisky which is the opposite to most on the island but distinctive for it nonetheless. This is not the most expensive or rare bottle in their product line but the great thing about whisky is the emotional response and happy memories one can associate with a particular time or event.

The Classic Laddie is therefore a permanent fixture in the Mallon drinks cabinet.

Michael Henry, Master Distiller at Loch Lomond Whiskies

My favourite of our expressions is Loch Lomond 12 Year Old Single Malt. It has a perfectly balanced character where the flavours are in harmony with each other and I can taste the flavours we create in each part of the distillation process. I can taste the fruit character from our long fermentations captured by our straight neck pot stills, the softer sweet and vanilla wood influence of American oak and a light touch of peat smoke from the unique way that our straight neck pot stills select the smokier, spicier peat flavours. It is a combination of four of our spirit styles distilled using both our straight neck pot stills and swan neck pot stills. The way in which the individual spirit styles are brought together gives the balanced character where I can taste the real signature flavours of our distillery

Neil Haining, Director of Mosaic Architecture + Design:

“This Christmas my dram of choice is the warming Islay profile of The Lost Distillery Company’s Lossit Classic Selection. The perfect fireside dram for the festive season with a smooth and creamy start, leading to a smoky bonfire with waves of gentle spice flowing in between the puffs of smoke. The Lost Distillery Company marks a celebration of long-closed distilleries brought to life by a marriage of fine aged single malts, celebrating the golden era of Scotch Whisky. The Lost Distillery Company is a local award-winning craft whisky company with an ethos to help protect and regenerate Scotland’s whisky heritage in and from Dumfries House, near Cumnock, an Estate saved by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2007.”