Famed around the world for its whisky, Scotland has long been a nation that enjoys a drink, and the public house – or pub – has long been a hub of the community.
The traditional Scottish pub ranges from the grandiose, purpose-built, Victorian pubs typical of Edinburgh and Glasgow through former coaching inns dotted along ancient highways to cottage drinking dens hidden away in Highland glens and island villages.
What they have in common today is that they have preserved much of their original 18th- or 19th-century decor – timber-beamed ceilings, glowing mahogany bar tops, polished brass rails and stained-glass windows – and generally serve cask-conditioned real ales and a range of malt whiskies.
Pubs like these are often the social hub of rural communities, a meeting place and venue for live music, quiz nights and ceilidhs.
Some pubs, especially in the whisky-distilling region of Speyside, have become known as whisky bars because of their staggering range of single-malt whiskies – the famous Quaich Bar in the Craigellachie Hotel, established in 1894, offers more than 900 varieties.
The revival of interest in single malts since the late 1990s has seen a new wave of whisky bars open across the country, mainly in the cities. Places like Glasgow's Òran Mór have more than 300 malts stacked behind the bar.
In the last decade there has been a swing away from the big international brands in favour of beers made by small, local breweries – so-called craft beers. Many of these have their own pubs, or even combine pub and brewery in one place, like Pitlochry's Moulin Hotel, Dundee's Beer Kitchen and Edinburgh's Royal Dick.