Their island stories are steeped in whisky.

The people of Skye, Harris and Raasay – often out of the sight of the excisemen – have long known how to make just the right dram to get a party started. Now they want the rest of Scotland to share in the fun.

Distilleries on the three islands will next month launch their first ever whisky festival, a four-day bevvy of free tours, tastings, music, casks and special events.

Their aim? To draw more tourists into a new trail, including at least three ferry crossings, for Scotch lovers who fancy something a little more challenging than the usual tours of mainland factories.

Organisers said: “The first ever Hebridean Whisky Festival is to take place across the islands of Skye, Raasay and Harris between 21-25 May, 2019. “Spread between the four distilleries along the Hebridean Whisky Trail, the festival will feature free tours, tastings, music, casks and special events at Talisker, Torabhaig, Isle of Raasay and Harris distilleries and the Aros Centre, Portree.”

The trail itself was launched last year.

It is a spectacular 115-mile route set amidst Skye’s stunning Cuillin mountains, Raasay’s beautiful coastline and seascapes and the famous white sandy shores of Harris.

At the Isle of Raasay Distillery on Thursday, May 23, whisky pilgrims can hop across the water to the youngest distillery on the trail for the launch of the exclusive new warehouse and whisky and chocolate tours.

The distillery promises to take visitors to its “inner sanctum” – its cask warehouse filled with the aroma of spirit maturing in Bordeaux, virgin oak and rye whisky casks.

Raasay Distillery is the first legal whisky maker on the island, which has a population of around 160.

“Seasoned whisky connoisseurs and intrepid island explorers alike can enjoy the spectacular views from the warehouse terrace above the distillery across to the Cuillin mountains on Skye,” according to festival organisers.

“Those with a sweet tooth can also enjoy the launch of the distillery’s new whisky and chocolate tour with delicious pairings of whisky and chocolate by Finlay MacDonald’s Glenshiel Chocolate Company.”

The festival kicks off with two days on Skye at Torabhaig Distillery on Tuesday, May 21 followed by events at Talisker, the oldest distillery on the trail, on Wednesday May 22.

Organisers added: “After Raasay on the 23rd, you can follow the self-guided whisky trail route up to Isle of Harris Distillery on Friday 24th May. Meanwhile in Portree the Aros Centre will showcase the distilleries at a special Hebridean Whisky Festival tasting stand for the duration of the festival.

“The festival finale is the ‘Big Day at Slig’ taking place at the Sligachan Hotel on Saturday 25th May in Skye. Here all four distilleries will come together in one place for a day of whisky tastings, Hebridean whisky cocktails, distillery vehicles, cask displays, craft ales and a visit from the Isle of Skye pipe band."

The festival will offer a chance to try all the spirits, as well as other local brews from Cuillin Brewery, sweet treats from the likes of Chocolates of Glenshiel and delicacies from the Skye Smokehouse.

It will conclude in true Hebridean style with a ceilidh into the night at the Sligachan Hotel.” Events are all free.

The whisky trail launch last year was aimed at tapping into huge new interest in the Western Isles.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said previously: “The trail is a wonderful addition to Hebridean tourism. Newcomers to Scotch Whisky and aficionados alike can enjoy visiting these uniquely island distilleries, each offering something quite different in terms of heritage, location and, of course, Scotch."

Ms Betts added: “Whisky tourism is, of course, increasingly important to Scotland’s economy and rural communities. In 2017, there were 1.9 million visits to Scotch Whisky distilleries in our iconic whisky regions from all over the world, spending £61 million in the rural economy.”

The trail can be followed by land or sea with three CalMac ferry crossings linking the destinations as well as yacht berthing facilities near to each distillery.