Thousands are set to make the pilgrimage to the whisky heartland to celebrate Scotland's national drink with the Spirit of Speyside festival

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is set to draw in thousands of visitors from all over the globe for a five day celebration of Scotland’s national drink.

Kicking off today, the Festival – Now in its 16th year – toasts the people and the passion behind some of the finest whiskies in the world, with behind the scenes distillery tours, exclusive tastings and appreciations.

With a programme of almost 400 events, including a host of new attractions, there’s a range of activities offering a broad appeal. As well as whisky themed events the Festival takes in comedy and crafting, dinners and cookery courses, scenic train journeys and heritage walks and much more besides.

Festival chairman James Campbell says organisers are looking forward to an international mix of visitors arriving and adding a real buzz to the Speyside area.

He said: “Festival visitors will be joining with local communities to celebrate all things whisky.

“It’s a very special blend that celebrates the passion, tradition and people behind the production of the most recognisable whiskies in the world. It’s also an opportunity for whisky aficionados and beginners alike to learn more about the malts that have made our region world famous.”

Speyside contains more than half of all Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries – over 50 in total – and many of them will be hosting tours and tastings. While a number of key events have sold out, there’s still plenty of choice available to anyone that wants to get involved.

Having played to audiences in over 25 countries worldwide, Skerryvore will take centre stage at the Spirit of Speyside Sessions 2015, a music festival within a festival, a concept which returns after a successful launch last year. The band always deliver an unforgettable night of music – and will do just that at the Macdonald Aviemore Hotel on 2 May.

Skerryvore. Picture: Spirit of Speyside

Skerryvore. Picture: Spirit of Speyside

Spiro, the band credited with redefining English folk music will bring their special blended sound of Northumbrian traditional tunes and systems music to Elgin’s Drouthy Cobbler on 30 April. Having performed at festivals in the UK, Europe, Canada, India and UAE, and toured throughout the UK in support of two albums on Real World Records, Spiro attract fanatical enthusiasm from their audiences.

Whisky is not just about the drinking, but about the eating too. French writer Martine Nouet, the so called Queen of the Still, will be showing how whisky can be used as an ingredient in dishes at demonstrations at the Oakwood Cookery School on 1 May.

A sumptuous four-course lunch and five whiskies, all of which have been created by or inspired by women, will be a highlight of the Women in Whisky Luncheon at The Dowans Hotel in Aberlour on 2 May.

Spirit 2

Forget the politics of the General Election and instead join The Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester for a Question Time with a difference, held in one of the distillery’s atmospheric warehouses on 2 May. With 40 years’ experience in the industry, Alan will take questions while serve some delicious drams of the single malt that started it all.

Georgie Bell, Global Mortlach Ambassador, heads up a journey of the senses at Drummuir Castle on 3 May. Following an in-depth dinner party style tasting, there will be a guided tour of the castle when each of the four new Mortlach Expressions will be brought to life in spectacular gastronomic fashion.

Help round off the Festival at the Whisky Awards 2015 Judging, Closing Ceilidh and Prize Giving taking place at Elgin’s Laichmoray Hotel on 3 May. It’s an evening of whisky, music, food and fun, with a last chance to cast votes to name Speyside’s best malts in the Whisky Awards 2015. Find out who the champions are, and the winners of the Festival’s Best New Event for 2015 and the People’s Choice in the Festival Photographic Competition.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival kicks off Whisky Month in Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015 in dram-atic fashion. And what better way to celebrate Scotland’s fantastic natural larder than with a dram of the finest Scotch whisky?

Tickets for all events in the 2015 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme can be found on the website – www.spiritofspeyside.com

Ann Miller discusses last year’s festival:

About The Author

Sean Murphy

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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