When: 1st – 5th May 2014
Where: Speyside, Scotland
£: Ticket prices vary depending on the event
What is it?
May is Whisky Month in Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, so what better way to kick off a fantastic month-long celebration than in the spiritual home of Scotland’s malt whisky industry?
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will have plenty of events to whet the appetite of both whisky connoisseurs and novices as the festival toasts the people and the passion behind some of the finest whiskies in the world.
From Thursday 1st May until Monday 5th May, the annual festival will draw thousands of visitors from all over the globe to enjoy a programme of over 370 events. This year there will be an event for those who love music as much as whisky. The Spirit of Speyside Sessions – a music festival within the festival – will bring the very best of traditional and contemporary music to the heart of malt whisky country.
The Speyside region contains more than half of all Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries – over 50 in total – and many of them will be hosting tours, nosings and tastings. For some venues it will be the first time that they have taken part in the festival, or even opened to the public, giving visitors a once in a lifetime chance to see behind the scenes. Among the distilleries taking part for the first time this year is Roseisle; Speyside’s newest distillery and the first one built by Diageo in over 30 years. Glen Keith, which reopened last year, will also be opening up to festival goers. As will Tormore, which was one of the first built in Speyside after WWII.
Members of the public can cast their votes in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky Awards after tasting the six shortlisted finalists. The judging roadshow takes place all over Speyside. They are the only awards in the world where the winners are decided by members of the public. The victorious malts will be unveiled at a ceilidh taking place on the Sunday at Glen Grant Distillery in Rothes.
One of the more quirky events is a grown-up treasure hunt; Liquid Treasures. Festival-goers will be able to follow clues posted on social media, the Festival hubs and transport, to seek out bottles of exclusive single malt that have been hidden in the hills around Glenlivet. A group of distilleries known as The Famous Five – Glenfarclas, Tomintoul, Tamnavulin, The Glenlivet and Cragganmore – have teamed up to offer bottles of single malt whisky valued at £600 as the haul for lucky scavengers.
The Spirit of Speyside Sessions will celebrate the area’s rich traditional music heritage and run in tandem with the festival. The sessions will take place at whisky-themed venues across the region, including distilleries, bars and even on a vintage train. The sessions aim to open the festival up to a new audience with performances from traditional Scottish music bands such as Old Blind Dogs and The Shee to indie (and Contrary Life) favourites Withered Hand. It will also feature comedy with special performances from whisky stand-up Alan Anderson.
Many events take place in Dufftown – the town largely regarded as the malt whisky capital of the world – but the programme takes in venues all the way from Aviemore in the south to Forres in the north. Festival buses will be running throughout the five-days and will call at a wide number of venues.
More info: www.spiritofspeyside.com