Fancy a tipple? Here's a wet weekend in the UK you'll really appreciate

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The Independent Travel

Are you a glass-half-empty or a glass-half-full type? If you're fond of a tipple, your spirits will be lifted by the range of alcohol master classes and tours popping up around the country.

Start your education at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (, which launches on Thursday in one of the most whisky-soaked regions of Scotland. The 50-plus distilleries in the area include The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, and they, along with others, will open their doors to allow you a peek at the production of some of the world's most sought-after whiskies. You'll be among 1.2 million people who visit Scotland's distilleries every year, generating about £25m in income.

The five-day festival features 230 events, including workshops on whisky as a culinary ingredient or as an accompaniment to foods as diverse as chocolate and sausages. Over-indulgence can be worked off on one of the many "drambles" around whisky country.

The refurbished Scotch Whisky Experience ( now offers a series of mini master classes to visitors who take its whisky tour, for a small charge. Themes include discovering your "nose", mixing cocktails, and food pairing.

Down in Devon, the historic Plymouth Gin Distillery (plymouthgin .com) has just launched its Master Distiller's Private Tour. The experience includes an exclusive show-round of the distillery and tutoring in the distilling process using a personal micro gin still. Plymouth Gin is one of the few food and drink brands with a protected geographical location and its recipe dates from 1793. Visitors are taken through the production process, and rewarded at the end with the opportunity to taste a range of gin styles and a gift of a bottle of single-batch handmade gin.

Wine tourism is on the rise, too. The family-run Wroxeter Roman Vineyard (, in Shropshire, offers a tour of the vines and winery, a tasting, and lunch (with wine, of course). And, if you're worried about driving after all that imbibing, the estate includes a four-star holiday cottage where you can have a little lie down.