The first mini-festival drawing Speyside’s finest food and drink producers together in one central venue has been toasted a success, after hundreds of people turned out to ensure it got off the best possible start.
Organisers of Spirit of Speyside: Distilled are in high spirits after finding that mixing the region’s finest whisky with gin, beer and food went down a treat with audiences.
Large crowds of people flocked to Elgin – the largest town in the region - where some of the region’s most coveted and iconic brands stood shoulder to shoulder with smaller producers growing in name and reputation to showcase the ingredients that make the region a delight for food and drink lovers.
Over three days, four sessions at Elgin Town Hall provided audiences a delicious flavour of Speyside. As well as visiting different stand holders to sample food and drink, visitors could meet the people behind the products, including master distillers and brand ambassadors. There were a range of specialist masterclasses covering topics from cocktails to food pairings and there were new, rare and cask strength drams, and insights into the art of whisky, gin and beer making led by experts in their craft.
Billed as ‘one region under one roof’, the 30 plus exhibitors included a range of distilleries responsible for producing world famous brands like Aberlour, Benromach, Cardhu, Cragganmore, The Glenlivet, Glen Moray, Benromach, The Macallan, Glenfiddich and Glen Grant. There were also craft breweries, gin makers, and specialists in shortbread, ice cream, soup, coffee and tea, bakery and tablet making and more.
Spirit of Speyside: Distilled manager Pery Zakeri said: “We had fantastic crowds and there was a great atmosphere. People turned out with their friends to enjoy a range of excellent flavours and they weren’t disappointed. It was a really relaxed environment and we had people from the local area who said that seeing all the food and drink businesses in one venue really brought home the range of great tastes there are in Speyside.
“Others travelled from further much afield including Canada, the USA, Norway and Germany in order to be part of our first festival of this kind and they equally enjoyed the experience.
“It was heartening to see the best of Speyside’s food and drink industry come together, from the big names in the drinks business that have a global following to smaller producers that may be less known outwith the local area.
“Whisky is of major importance in Speyside, but I think this festival has helped show that it is very well complemented by the gin, beer and food producers who joined us in showcasing Speyside’s local larder.”
The offer of free entry to anyone sharing a name with a Speyside distillery failed to find anyone with the same moniker to any one of the area’s 50 plus distilleries – not even a Glen Keith, Glen Grant or Tam Dhu.
The mini-festival is an offshoot of the renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival which takes place around the first bank holiday weekend in May and organisers will now be shifting their focus to preparing for this major event which draws thousands of people from all over the world to Speyside for a five day celebration of the amber nectar.
The 2017 festival takes place from April 27-May 1 at venues across Speyside, and while the full programme is still being worked on, will include talks, tours and tastings, heritage walks, a whisky school, whisky with food pairings, whisky menus and more. In all it is likely there will be around 500 events over multiple venues.