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Edinburgh-based crime writer Ian Rankin named as the guest of honour for the Fife Whisky Festival

Edinburgh-based crime writer Ian Rankin has been named as the guest of honour for the Fife Whisky Festival which returns to the Kingdom next month.

Published: February 6, 2020
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The event, which is now in its third year, runs from Friday March 6 until Sunday March 8 with the main sessions at the Corn Exchange in Cupar.

The showcase event opens with a banquet-style dinner at Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh on the Friday night, featuring a three-course meal paired with special drams and an after-dinner talk from Mr Rankin.

This year's festival is set to be the biggest yet. Picture:

The author, who was born in Cardenden, Fife, said: “As a keen whisky drinker I’m delighted to be speaking at the Festival. Whisky is one of the wonders of Scotland. Sharing a few whiskies with a friend is the ultimate act of conviviality.

“There’s a spirit of place to each lovingly-produced whisky and also a sense of history. Whisky connects us with the past, stirs memories, warms us and welcomes us.

“Scotland punches above its weight in many sectors, but with whisky we have given the world a very great gift.”

Founded by Justine Hazlehurst of Kask Whisky, and Karen Somerville of Angels’ Share Glass, the festival continues on Saturday March 7 with two tasting sessions at the Corn Exchange in Cupar.

The opening dinner and first Saturday session are sold out but there are tickets remaining for the second Saturday session which runs from 5pm until 8.30pm.

There are also tickets available for a special event on the Sunday - a screening of whisky film The Amber Light at Kingsbarns Distillery and Visitor Centre near St Andrews followed by a tour and tasting.

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The film, directed by Adam Park, follows spirits writer Dave Broom on a quest to gain a deeper understanding of his national drink - whisky.

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at 2019's Edinburgh International Film Festival, the film traces his journey back to the roots of whisky and shows how it is an integral part of wider Scottish culture.

The film will be followed by an exclusive guided tour of Kingsbarns Distillery and a trip to the tasting room to enjoy some carefully selected drams.

Meanwhile on the Saturday, the Festival will feature a special bottling of whisky from Fife’s own Cameronbridge Distillery.

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Exclusively selected by official festival retailer Luvians and bottled by Fife Whisky Festival exhibitor, James Eadie, this 22-year-old single grain whisky was finished for 12 months in a first fill Marsala hogshead.

The release is limited to just 275 bottles and will be sold for the first time at the 2020 Festival.

Justine Hazlehurst said: “We’re delighted to introduce this fantastic limited- edition single grain whisky at the Festival which I’m sure will prove popular.

“We’re also really pleased with how the Festival has grown in both numbers and reputation since the first event in 2018.

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“We sold more tickets in the first three days this time than in the first three months for the 2019 festival which is indicative of its growing success.”

Karen Somerville said: “The Festival really has gone from strength to strength since we launched it and exceeded all our expectations.

“It’s a real coup to have Ian Rankin join us as guest speaker at the dinner in Lindores Abbey – he’s well known for enjoying a dram and of course he has strong links to Fife so we’re looking forward to hearing what he has to say.”

Lindores Abbey owner Drew McKenzie Smith said: “We at Lindores are proud to host the opening dinner for Fife Whisky Festival as we are home to the first written reference to Scotch whisky.

“Fife may have been a quiet area for whisky production for some time but slowly we are becoming a well know region for more and more distilleries, which is why we are thrilled to play such a huge part at the official opening of the Fife Whisky Festival.

“This is the second time we have hosted the Opening Dinner and we hope to keep this a yearly tradition as the festival grows to become one of the biggest festivals across Scotland.”

The first Fife Whisky Festival took place in 2018 after Ms Hazlehurst and Mrs Somerville, an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), joined forces to bring whisky back to the Kingdom of Fife.

It proved a major success and was followed by a bigger and better second event in March last year.

This year the Festival is sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, legal firm MacRoberts LLP and global construction company ISG.

It will feature two tasting sessions on the Saturday with drams on offer from more than 35 distilleries and independent bottlers including Springbank, Tullibardine, Blair Athol, Glen Scotia, Glenfiddich and Eden Mill.

The famous Luvians Bottle Shop, the festival’s on-site official retailer, will be on hand for whisky purchases and there will be a food stall run by a local business throughout the day.

Graeme Dempster, of sponsor Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, said: “Now in its third year, the Fife Whisky Festival has been a great success and boosted Fife’s reputation as a whisky destination.

“It’s exciting to see over 30 distilleries and independent bottlers from across Scotland come together to present their whisky expertise. I’m really looking forward to catching up with the new exhibitors, festival regulars, friends and our clients.

“Our involvement in the whisky distillery sector has allowed us to support and advise established and emerging distilleries on their insurance needs.

“As the industry goes from strength to strength, it’s great to see an event like the Fife Whisky Festival grow in prominence too. As the ‘Broker of Choice’ within the Scotch Whisky industry, we're delighted to be a part of it once again.”

• To buy tickets and for more details about Fife Whisky Festival, go to

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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