Welcome to Speyside!
Your journey of discovery through Malt Whisky Country begins here …
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place throughout the Speyside region in the north east of Scotland. The region lies partly in Moray and partly in the Highlands of Scotland and is set around the River Spey which flows through it. Legendary malt whisky distilleries are found all along the length of the Spey, which is itself a legend, being one of the finest salmon rivers in Scotland. The river begins high in the Monadhliath Mountains in the west near Aviemore, and runs for 100 miles to the fertile coastal plain of the Moray Firth, where it spills into Spey Bay.
Travelling north-east along the River Spey, you enter Speyside at Aviemore. You’ll see the celebrated Aberdeen Angus cattle graze on the riverbanks, and the spectacular Cairngorm mountains towering over the broad “strath” as it winds through lush farmland.
Your first port of call is the historic town of Grantown-on-Spey, built in the eighteenth century by Sir James Grant. Here you can wander in the gardens and potter along the attractive Georgian main street for souvenirs in a splendid array of specialist shops – whisky and fishing tackle are just some of the treasures on offer. There is also a good range of visitor accommodation.
Downstream, the landscape becomes gentler and the slopes of the Cairngorms segue into rolling heather hills. As the river winds, it reveals a succession of panoramic views all along the road to Ballindalloch Castle. Here, you can go north of the river to Knockando where a number of well known malt whiskies are produced, or travel south to Glenlivet – home to the Glenlivet Crown Estate and one of the best known Speyside malt whisky distilleries.
Pretty villages and friendly hostelries scatter the area around the small country towns of Aberlour, Craigellachie, Dufftown and Rothes. This is where you find the highest number of distilleries per square mile on Speyside.
Next along the route is the fertile Laich of Moray, where the majority of the barley used to make malt whisky is grown. The towns of this area, Elgin, Forres, Fochabers and Keith each offer their own distinct character and a wide range of visitor attractions and accommodation.
Journey’s end is the spectacular expanse of the Moray Firth with its stunning beaches, pristine coastal waters, fascinating fishing villages and outstanding marine wildlife. This beautiful natural environment is a fitting climax to a river’s journey which began in the distant mountains and has wound its way through some of the loveliest scenery in Scotland.