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World Whisky Day 2021: When is it, what is it about and what events are happening?

World Whisky Day falls this month, and is celebrating 10 years.

Published: May 14, 2021

This month sees the 10th World Whisky Day being celebrated by fans around the world, but what it is and how did it come about?

World Whisky Day was set up in 2012 by author and consultant Blair Bowman, who, when he was at university, decided to buy the domain name and set up a website that explored our national drink.

This was a time when the industry wasn't as booming as it is now, so it was a bit of a gamble for Blair - but one that has paid off.

When is World Whisky Day 2021?

World Whisky Day falls on the third Saturday in May and this year will be celebrated on Saturday 15 May.

Blair explained that this date made sense at the time, saying: “2012 was to be the year of Scottish food and drink, and May was designated as whisky month, which is still is.

“The Spirit of Speyside Festival is the first weekend and the Islay festival is at the end of the month so it made sense to have World Whisky Day bang in the middle.”

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How did it come about?

Last year I spoke to Blair for the Scotsman's Scran podcast and he explained its origins.

He said: “In 2011 I was living in Barcelona and I was very into whisky and had set up a whisky club at Aberdeen University where I was studying.

“Whisky was in a very different place in 2008/2009 when I set up the club but by 2011 I was deeply embedded with being involved in this club and had connected with lots of brands because of this.

“When I was in Barcelona it was World Gin Day and I saw it was a global trending topic on Twitter, which I think was still fairly new back then.

"I thought it was an interesting concept that was obviously popular so I wanted to find out when World Whisky Day was.

"I Googled it and couldn’t find anything about it. World Gin Day had a great website with ideas of things to do on the day and places that were celebrating it.

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"I typed in ‘world whisky day dot com’ and the domain was available, so I bought it straight away, and then made a very similar kind of simple landing page with a Google map with pins to tell people what we were doing.

"It then just grew very quickly and very organically from there.”

What events are on this year?

Since Covid-19 restrictions have only just begun to ease, the main way of celebrating World Whisky Day 2021 is via their first virtual festival which is taking place from 14-16 May and includes tastings, masterclasses and talks from a range of people within the industry.

The packed schedule includes:

  • Live whisky tastings with expert blenders at Johnnie Walker and Cardrona Distillery
  • Meet the Makers session with Dewar’s Aberfeldy
  • Exclusive World Whisky Day edition of Ervin Trykowski and Ewan Gunn's Scotch Tapes
  • Panels, masterclasses and distillery tours
  • And much more.

Hosted on virtual events platform Balloon, festival-goers are able to plan out their own personalised events schedule, as well as invite friends into private rooms to catch up and enjoy some socially-distanced dramming.

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“The World Whisky Weekender will celebrate everything we all love about whisky,” said Eric Campbell, Organiser.

“There will be panels discussing everything from sustainable distilling to emerging distillers in the ‘new world’ of whisky.

"A live cocktail masterclass will unveil the Sunrise Highball as the official World Whisky Day 2021 cocktail, and we’ll welcome the return of the much-loved Big Fat Whisky Quiz Lite, hosted by World Whisky Day."

For those keen to meet up for a dram, alchol is still only being served outdoors in Scotland just now, and you'll need to book a table at most venues.

Here's our pick of the most scenic beer gardens, for inspirations or if you want to stay at home then why not try one of these whisky cocktails?

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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