Organisers say that 19th festival has been the best yet in terms of international numbers, with strong ticket sales and the most extensive festival programme ever – featuring 575 events in total – delivered as part of this year’s offering.
Debut attraction, an Off The Beaten Track Tour to four distilleries never normally open to the public, won the coveted best new event award. It saw whisky lovers transported by coach for tours delivered by Chivas Brothers’ International Brand Ambassador Tristan Campbell at Dalmunach, Tormore, Braeval and Allt a Bhainne distilleries. The tours were followed by a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired lunch prepared by cookery writer Ghillie Başan, accompanied by whisky tastings, at her remote Speyside home, reached via a Land Rover journey, a setting that was truly ‘off the beaten track’.
This was announced at the closing ceilidh held at the Craigellachie Hotel last night (Sunday) when the winners of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards were also revealed.
The annual awards – the only whisky competition in the world that places the power to determine the winning drams in the hands of the public – saw the 25 year old Cragganmmore Special Release (H) announced as the public’s favourite whisky overall.
There was double cause for celebration for Glen Moray, with its Classic Chardonnay (A) winning the non-age statement and its 18 year old (F) winner in the 13-20 year old section.
Top title in the 12 year old and under winner went to Strathisla 12 (C) year old.
Meanwhile, in the over 21-Year-Old category, Glenfiddich 21-year-old Reserva Rum Cask Finish (G) triumphed, with the 25-year-old Cragganmore Special Release (H) runner up, but it gaining most individual votes overall making it the public’s favourite. The awards were sponsored by Forsyths of Rothes.
James Campbell, chairman of Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival said:
What a truly magnificent five days we have had here in Speyside. We’ve been joined by people from more countries than ever, as well as local people, who have been able to enjoy our biggest ever programme of events, and amid glorious sunshine too.
One of the key events of the festival is the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards and we congratulate all our winners. From a fantastic range of new events, the Off The Beaten Track tour encompassed landscape, whisky and food, three qualities for which Speyside is famed the world over, making it a worthy winner of best new event.
We’re delighted to have been able to offer so many different experiences to so many people, all enjoyed over a dram and in convivial company.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is the perfect stage to showcase all Scotland has to offer from our amazing food and drink, our fantastic people to our beautiful natural environment. Attracting people from around the world, it is a truly memorable five days for visitors and locals alike.
EventScotland is proud to have been a supporter of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for a number of years. Each year the Festival goes from strength to strength, developing a programme filled with exciting and innovative events for its ever growing audience. I’d like to congratulate the team on another great year that has seen more than 500 events take place and a record breaking number of tickets sold.
After analysing this year’s festival, the organising team will be turning their focus to staging its offshoot, Spirit of Speyside: Distilled. The event, which brings together the region’s whisky, gin, beer and food producers under one roof, to enjoy samples of local products, meet key faces from the food and drink industry and take part in masterclasses on a range of different topics. Spirit of Speyside: Distilled takes place in Elgin Town Hall on August 31 and September 1. Tickets, which will go on sale in June for different sessions over the weekend.
From exclusive behind the scenes distillery tours and whisky and food pairings, to heritage walks embracing the local landscape and fun, family-friendly events, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme offered something for everyone, from connoisseurs to complete novices.
Details about the festival can be found at www.spiritofspeyside.com and on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter. Use the hashtag #dram18 to search.