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Popular distilleries band together to launch new Highland whisky festival

A group of popular whisky distilleries in the Highlands have come together to announce the launch of a brand new whisky festival. 

Published: January 9, 2019
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Having been named one of the Lonely Planet’s ‘Best In Travel’ destinations in 2019, the new whisky festival will celebrate the established Highland Whisky Trail.

Dubbed The Highland Whisky Festival, the event will take place between the 10th - 17th May 2019 and will feature the area's top distilleries, all of which can be found close to the North Coast 500 route.

With each distillery hosting an open day with exclusive events and tastings, it’s been described by the organisers as an "unmissable experience for even the most seasoned of whisky enthusiasts".

Highland Whisky Festival

Balblair, Clynelish, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, Dalmore, Singleton of Glen Ord, Tomatin and Wolfburn will each host visitors from the world over to showcase the centuries of tradition, process and craft of their home.

On the 10th of May, Wolfburn will be offering tours, with tastings taking place on the distillery floor in front of the stills, led by Brand Ambassador, Mark Westmorland.

Old Pulteney will hold two very special masterclasses with Malcolm Waring, alongside tours and pairings on the 11th May.

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The 12th of May brings us to Clynelish. From Game of Thrones tastings to an insider peak of Brora, the schedule at this exciting distillery is a special one.

Visit Balblair on the 13th May to share a tasting with John MacDonald, or a showing of the ‘Angel’s Share’ and dinner in Dunnage no. 3.

The 14th May takes guests to Glenmorangie, where distillery tours, tastings of old and rare expressions and a truly special single cask dinner are the order of the day.

On the 15th of May, The Dalmore is hosting a distillery tour led by Distillery Manager Stuart Robertson and Operations Director Shane Healy, followed by an intimate tasting on the banks of the Cromarty Firth. Join Richard Paterson and Shauna Jennens to enjoy four very special expressions.

The Singleton of Glen Ord hosts on the 16th with a chance for visitors to get up close and personal and test their skills as a distillery operator

The 17th of May will take fans to their final stop. The team at Tomatin are offering bespoke tours with live cooperage demonstrations, an exclusive festival bottling & an evening dinner to round off your festival journey.

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Festival coordinator Katie Waugh stated that the union between eight world class distilleries, each with their own story to tell, would surely make a fantastic addition to the Scottish Whisky Festival scene, she said: “Building on the successes of both the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and Islay Whisky Festival and with the continuing increase in Whisky tourism especially along the North Coast 500 we identified an opportunity for the Highland Distilleries to have a festival of their own.

"Between the 8 distilleries we have over 1000 years of craftsmanship and experience in producing whisky. What differentiates Highland Distilleries is that they are spread far and wide along the North Coast 500. The effort of travelling is rewarded not only by world class whiskies but stunning landscapes and the warm welcoming Highland hospitality."

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland’s regional leadership director, stated that the North Coast 500 has so far added £9 million worth of revenue to the region, with an additional 29,000 visitors to the area via the route between 2016-17.

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He said: “Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, attracting visitors from all over the world, with one in five visitors making a trip to a whisky distillery during their stay.

"Scotland saw a record number of 1.9 million visits to distilleries and a spend of £60.9 million (an increase of 15.6% from 2016), therefore we anticipate our inaugural Festival to be successful and well-visited.

“As one of the largest whisky producing regions in Scotland, the Highlands is a veritable paradise for lovers of a wee dram with whisky a vital part of local tourism. With all eyes on the Highlands and Islands next year – following Lonely Planet naming it Best in Travel 2019 – this new festival will be a great addition to the visitor experience and shine a spotlight on the area’s links to our iconic national drink."

• Information about the 2019 Highland Whisky Festival can be found on the website and tickets will be on sale from early March

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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