Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Karen Betts explains why she thinks the Scottish 'water of life' is so special. 

Are you curious about Scotch whisky?

How much do you know about Scotland’s national drink? That it has been distilled for more than 500 years? That it’s the lifeblood of communities across rural Scotland?

That people all over the world have fallen in love with it and embraced it into their own cultures?

If you haven’t discovered Scotch yet, this is the year to do it.

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To my mind, Scotch is a wonderful product for three reasons: first, it is hugely varied. Whisky made on Islay is very distinct from whisky that comes from the Scottish Borders.

An eight-year-old whisky matured in an oak barrel that once held American bourbon is quite different to a 16-year-old matured in a sherry cask.

A whisky made by the sea is different to one made in the mountains. When blended, whiskies produce new, unique flavours all over again.

Whatever you choose, you can savour your Scotch many ways: neat, with water, ice, ginger wine, in a cocktail … Each experience will be singular, distinctive and quite different to the last.

For me, there is no one flavour, no one experience that is Scotch: the spirit’s diversity is its charm.

Secondly, Scotch is deeply rooted in Scotland, in our culture and our landscape, in glens, rivers, shorelines and mountains.

Scotch whisky depends on the natural environment; without it, there would be no Scotch.

We need water, cereals and yeast to make Scotch, and wood to mature new-make spirit in.

So it follows that we care deeply about sustainability: we know we need to look after our environment, protecting it for future generations and ensuring Scotch whisky’s own sustainability.

We have been investing in renewables and in other ways of reducing our carbon footprint for 10 years now, and we will be carbon-neutral by 2045.

We want Scotland’s national drink to be synonymous with both Scotland’s past and its future.

Thirdly, the way in which we make Scotch is timeless. Over time, technology has made our processes more efficient and our workplaces safer.

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But the essential ways in which we make Scotch whisky haven’t changed for hundreds of years.

Scotch is crafted slowly and carefully, often by generations of the same family. It is rooted in a distinct sense of place.

For me, visiting a distillery or a warehouse or a blending room is an antidote to today’s fast-paced, modern and globalised world. They are places in which time stands still.

So if you haven’t discovered Scotch yet, start to explore it this festive season. However you do it, it will be a fascinating journey. Slainte mhath!