Spirit of Speyside 2023: 8 whiskies win awards - including Glenlivet and Tamdhu

The first May bank holiday saw the culmination of the 2023 Spirit of Speyside Festival and the annual whisky awards.

Published 17th May 2023
Updated 17 th May 2023

Scotland’s blend of whisky festivals are proving as popular as ever with the recent Spirit of Speyside event seeing thousands flock to the region to celebrate the national drink.

The Spirit of Speyside Festival, running from Wednesday 26 April to Monday 1 May, saw almost 2,500 people descend on one of Scotland’s much-loved whisky regions.

More than 7,000 tickets were sold for an array of events including distillery tours, tastings under the stars, whisky train rides, cask building and ceilidhs. Guests travelled from as far afield as Hong Kong and Australia to get a taste of the famed region.

Billed as one of the largest events of its kind anywhere in the world, organisers said the festival relies on the blend of talent in the Speyside community to create a programme of unique experiences for visitors.

To get this year’s festival started, the whisky community came together for the “Touch of Tartan” Opening Dinner at Dallas Dhu Distillery.

The iconic drams of the region were recognised on the evening with the announcement of the 2023 Whisky Awards.

Whiskies that won awards at the 2023 Spirit of Speyside Festival

Speyside’s finest malts were decided by vote from judges worldwide.

While Glenlivet took home the overall win for its 25-year-old Single Cask with notes of sweet fig and blood orange, Glen Moray’s Chardonnay Cask was awarded gold in the Non-Aged Statement category and Tamdhu received gold awards for its 12 and 18-year-old single malts.

The competition for next year’s winners has already begun. Festival goers who attended Spirit of Speyside Whisky Award tastings have cast their first votes to determine next year’s winners from a shortlist judged by industry experts in March.

Organisers said that in a year of many firsts, the festival’s best new event for 2023 was awarded to Speyburn Distillery’s Behind the Scenes Tour and Tasting.

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This marked the first time in 125 years that Speyburn has opened its doors to the public.

The opening event of the festival also acknowledged the achievements of those who have contributed to the industry and the region and protected the legacy of Scotch whisky.

John Grant, chairman of J & G Grant, saw his commitment to the industry - spanning over 50 years - being honoured with a Spirit of Speyside Lifetime Achievement Award.

Spirit of Speyside

Keith Brian, who has been a supporter of the festival at Craigellachie Distillery, was named as the festival’s ‘Unsung Hero’.

Each year ambassadors are named who are said to encapsulate the essence of the region. Richard E Forsyth was recognised as Spirit of Speyside International Ambassador for his work in promoting the Scotch Whisky industry, as well as the festival.

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Sandy McIntyre of Tamdhu Distillery was named Spirit of Speyside Ambassador, acknowledging his dedication to great single malt

George McNeil, Spirit of Speyside Festival chairman said: “This year’s festival has surpassed all expectations. We’re thrilled to be working with partners like EventScotland, The Macallan, and Cardhu among others on a calendar of truly special events that brought more visitors than ever to Speyside this year.”

With Spirit of Speyside having drawn to a close, whisky lovers from Scotland and further afield have a number of whisky festivals and events to look forward to.

To name just a few, the Campbeltown Malts Festival is being held from 23 to 26 May and the Islay Festival - Fèis Ìle - is running at the end of this month. World Whisky Day is on 20 May sees celebrations taking place across the globe.

The full list of the 2023 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards winners

12 year old and under

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  • Silver award - Cragganmore 12 year old
  • Gold award - Tamdhu 12 year old

13 – 20 year old

  • Silver award - Glenlivet 18 year old
  • Gold award - Tamdhu 18 year old

21 year old & over

  • Silver award - Glenfiddich 21 year old
  • Gold award - Glenlivet 25 year old Single Cask

Non-Age Statement

  • Silver award - Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
  • Gold award - Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask

Overall winner

  • Glenlivet 25 year old Single Cask

2024 Whisky Award Finalists

12 year old & under

Glenlivet 10 year old v Benriach The Smoky 12 year old

13 year old – 17 year old

Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean v Speyburn 15 year old

18 year old & over

Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 YO v Balvenie 21 YO

Non-age statement

Aberlour A'Bunadh v The Cragganmore Distillers Edition

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