You won't believe how beautiful this hand-drawn Whisky Map of Scotland is

A cartographer from Durham spent 120 hours hand-drawing a stunningly detailed map of Scotland's whisky distilleries using only pencils and pens.

Published 31st Jul 2017
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Enthusiast Kevin Sheehan drew the first incarnation of his Whisky Map of Scotland entirely by hand in 2014, using pencils to sketch it out before finishing it with dip pens and ink.

Whisky Map
Picture: Fixing a mistake is a bit more tricky than pressing ‘delete’, Manuscript Maps

The map-maker explained that a lot of time and effort was involved in not just drawing the map, but also researching and organising it too, he said: "I begin with a detailed plan, then do most of the drawing in pencil, and then go over in pen.

"Every line is hand-drawn - over 4000 very thin horizontal lines were drawn simply to create the shading of the sea."

The whisky fan said the idea for the map came about after he held a whisky tasting for his friends and realised that he could merge his love of whisky with his passion for cartography.

The Durham-based cartographer, who moved to the UK from America in 2003, has now created three editions of the map.

Picture: Manuscript Maps

Having started his business Manuscript Maps after the director of a local World Heritage Site asked him to draw a couple of maps of Durham for the University to sell, Sheehan - who also works as a Librarian for the uni - said he has since created a Shipping Forecast map, a Gin Map of Britain and Ireland, a visual guide to Durham's pubs, and has plans to create a new map on Scotland's golf courses.

The visual artist sells versions of all of his hand-drawn maps on his website, but it's the whisky map Sheehan says, that has proven most popular, with almost double the number of prints of it sold than any of the others.

Picture: Manuscript Maps

"The map has been so popular that I’ve created a new edition each year, making minor changes such as adding several new distilleries.

"For the third 2017 edition, I added Arbikie, Isle of Raasey, Clydeside, Dornoch, and even newer forthcoming distilleries like the new Borders Distillery, Drimnin, Ardnahoe, Holyrood Park, Leith, Glenwyvis, and Jedhart & Mossburn."

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The current 2017 edition is incredibly detailed, shows 124 operational single malt distilleries, seven grain distillers, 25 recently-closed distilleries (since 1970), 11 known forthcoming distilleries, and is a thing of beauty.

Whisky map
The finished map in all of its glory. Picture: Manuscript Maps

Described as the perfect gift for any whisky lover, Sheehan even managed to sneak in a distillery from England onto the map, he added: "There is even one English Whisky Distillery (The Lakes) that just fit in the map area, so I included them as well."

• If you'd like to buy the map, you can do so here.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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