Majestic Line are offering two 10-night cruises to the Southern Hebridean islands to celebrate 200 years of malt whisky production.

The May 21 departure date of the “Islay and the Southern Hebrides” cruise is timed to coincide with the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, Fèis Ìle, which runs from 20 – 28 May 2016.

A later departure date of August 27 is penned in for later in the season, with passengers on both cruises being some of the first to travel upon the company’s newest purpose-built vessel The Glen Etive.

Majestic Line’s new route will primarily focus on the whisky and local food that makes this region famous. A highlight for whisky aficionados is a stopover at Port Ellen and Bowmore on the Isle of Islay, which has no less than eight separate whisky distilleries to explore including Laphroaig and three-time previous Whisky of the Year winner Ardbeg.

The Isle of Jura can be accessed from the Craighouse anchorage. Those who wish to try the local, hand-caught scallops can take a dram of Jura’s flagship whisky Origin to wash their seafood down afterwards.

The Majestic Line service continues along the Islay coastline before it reaches the island’s oldest distillery, Bowmore, at Loch Indaal. With the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland, it produces a highly refined single malt from the sole facility of its kind below sea level. Bruichladdich is also the residences of the Octomore range, known worldwide as the smokiest whisky ever made.

Those who wish to visit Scotland’s smallest and oldest distillery in Oban, in operation since 1794, can opt to visit the landmark at the beginning or end of their cruise.

As well as catering for gourmet produce fans, the tour also offers glimpses at rare wildlife, rugged scenery and the unique history of the Southern Hebrides, also known as “Argyll’s Sea Kingdom”. Europe’s largest whirpool can be seen at Corryvreckan – a name it shares with a potent Ardbeg whisky.

For those more interested in the scenery than the drinks on offer, visits can be made to the Islay Woollen Mill or to Finlaggan, the home of the Lord of the Isles. Tour guests can also take part in a one-way walk along the shores of Loch Indaal before being returned to their boat by tender.

Visits to non-whisky attractions are on offer depending on the wishes of guests, such as a walk to Kildalton Cross, a visit to the Islay Woollen Mill or a visit Finlaggan, home of Lord of the Isles. Guests have the option of a one-way walk along the shores of Loch Indaal between the Bowmore and Bruichladdich Distilleries, to be picked up by tender en route.

As well as the visits to Jura and Islay, the cruise will call in at the Isles of Gigha, Garvellachs and Colonsay, as well as exploring the sea lochs that litter the mainland.

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Sofiane Kennouche

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