Several thousand festival-goers celebrated Scotland’s national drink at one of the world’s largest whisky festivals as it made its full and in-person return last week after the pandemic.
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which is held in the world-famous Speyside region; the global epicentre of ‘the water of life’ attracted visitors from more than 29 countries, from North America to Norway and Malaysia to name but a few, to the six-day celebration.
Now in its 23rd year, an impressive array of over 550 events ensured that there was something for everyone, with a mix of both brand-new experiences and firm favourites returning to the line-up.
Festival goers enjoyed exclusive access to world famous distilleries usually off-limits to the public, and were able to fully immerse themselves in the region and discover all that Speyside has to offer, from rolling mountains to the Moray coastline and the very best of Scotland’s larder.
I was one of the many visitors to the festival and spent my time there enjoying a wide variety of events that show that, while this epic undertaking is for whisky fans, there’s plenty for non whisky drinkers to enjoy as well.
While there are many events for whisky connoisseurs, one event that will have caught the eye of Aberlour a’bunadh fans was the celebration of 25 years of A’bunadh.
Held in the Fleming hall - named for the founder of the distillery - this event showcased a range of drams from the range including old and rare expressions along with some history of the distillery - along with a delicious meal.
Star Wars and Whisky at the Dowans Hotel was an innovative way to pair whisky with knowledge of the films and was a poignant tribute to Brett Ferencz who was best known on social media as Scotch Trooper.
Brett sadly lost his battle with cancer, so proceeds of this event were donated to Cancer Research in his memory.
The Glenfiddich History and Heritage tour was an excellent and interactive deep dive into this powerhouse of Speyside.
Our tour guide Brian Weir imparted his excellent knowledge of the Grant family, while driving us to various locations linked in and around Dufftown.
The afternoon tea, paired with Glenfiddich whiskies, was a great end to an enjoyable afternoon.
Drams under the stars at the old bothy from Murray Mcdavid was a cosy affair with a huge bonfire, covered seating and fantastic traditional bothy songs.
A range of drams, including a Glen Keith 27 year old, from the independent bottler were sampled and enjoyed alongside toasted marshmallows and snacks.
The sheer variety of whiskies in the area were expertly explored in the Glen Moray wine to whisky, Battle of the Drams and the Behind-the-Scenes Tour at the GlenAllachie Distillery.
While food (and coffee) pairings came into their own at the Dufftown speakeasy coﬀee cake and dram and Martine Nouet’s whisky and chocolate pairing and whisky dinner.
Larkfire wild water for whisky also had success with their guided walks and tastings.
It was a delight to be back in Speyside and to see a huge range of visitors once again enjoying the region.
Speaking of the Festival’s success, George McNeil, Chairman, said: “With over 550 successful events, I would like to raise a dram to everyone who has worked so hard to bring the Festival back to life and showcase the very best of our iconic whisky region once again and we all look forward to the next celebration.”