The Distilleries Behind the Drams
Playing host to over half the distilleries in Scotland, Speyside has the greatest concentration of malt whiskies compared to the other whisky-producing regions – the Highlands, the Lowlands and the island of Islay.
Malt whiskies distilled in Speyside are amongst the most popular whiskies in the world, and fill nearly all the places in the international Top Ten table. They include single malts which are the best selling malt whiskies in important markets like the US, France, Spain and Italy as well as Scandinavia, Germany and Holland. In addition, many Speyside single malts make a vital contribution to the flavours of the world's favourite blended Scotch whiskies.
So – what’s the secret of a Speyside single malt’s special appeal?
Although every single malt is unique, the Speyside malts share certain characteristics; the connoisseur can detect honey and fruit flavours blended with rich floral aromas that deepen the warmth of a classic malt whisky.
The essential raw materials for making the best single malt whiskies – quality barley and pure clean spring water – are abundant in Speyside. Most distilleries have a long history of using locally grown barley from the fertile Laigh of Moray along the coast of the Moray Firth. The mild climate and long hours of summer sunshine combine to provide near- perfect growing conditions. Springs and burns throughout Speyside, many of them rich in minerals, supply the needs of our large concentration of distilleries, and add their unique contribution to the flavour of the final product. The pure, clean air ensures that young malt whiskies mature in perfect conditions over many years.
Finding the Festival Spirit
A number of Speyside distilleries have opened Visitor Centres and welcome visitors for most of the year. You’ll discover some of the best known along Speyside’s world famous Malt Whisky Trail.
Visitors to the Festival enjoy special attention, because many distilleries that are not normally open to visitors make special arrangements to welcome guests. In these distilleries, as well as many of those that are normally open, you can take advantage of special tours and events including whisky tastings or master classes conducted by industry experts.
In some distilleries, Festival goers have the opportunity to see behind the scenes and see at first hand the rigorous quality controls that guarantee the consistent high standards of every bottle of whisky.
Some distilleries also arrange whisky dinners or ceilidhs where you can share the Spirit of Speyside with many of the people responsible for making these justifiably famous single malts.