1. What is the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival?
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, launched in 1999, invites whisky novices, enthusiasts and connoisseurs to discover the passion behind the world’s finest single malt whiskies in Speyside, the largest whisky producing region of Scotland.
Now entering its 17th year, Spirit of Speyside is attended by visitors from across the globe (34 countries and counting… ). It delivers a programme of over 400 inspired events - exclusive distillery tours, tutored tastings, talks, whisky auctions and fairs, outdoor adventures by foot, canoe or argocat, traditional ceilidhs, fine dining dinners, live music and crafts - and everything in between!
The events are organised by the Festival and its many partners and members and this creates a very rich and diverse programme. In addition, a number of community groups organise events.
The Festival takes place in Speyside, in the North-East of Scotland over the first weekend of May each year.
2. When does the Festival take place?
The 17th Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes places from Thursday 28th April - Monday 2nd May 2016.
3. Where does the Festival take place?
At the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival we like to do things a little differently. There is no single Festival venue - our venues are distilleries old and new, quaint village halls, local whisky bars, historic castles, old steadings, much loved local shops and the great outdoors. Events take place in these venues throughout the region, from Aviemore in the South, following the River Spey to central Speyside and the historic towns in the coastal North.
Speyside is home to over 50 distilleries - more than half of the distilleries in Scotland - and is the largest whisky producing region of Scotland. It’s a big region - and most beautiful. See our Getting Around Speyside for information on how to travel about when you are here.
4. Who runs the Festival?
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival operates through a Board of Directors selected to provide expertise in key areas of the whisky industry, culture and heritage, tourism and hospitality. With an independent Chairman, the Directors work on a voluntary basis to plan and deliver the Festival along with the support of the Finance Manager and Festival Manager. See our Festival Team page for more information.
The Festival delivers the Opening and Closing Ceilidhs, the Whisky Awards and the Spirit of Speyside Sessions music programme. Our partners and members deliver the majority of events. Each event will reflect the individual style of the organisation that provides it.
5. Which distilleries open for the Festival?
Distilleries with visitor centres deliver a special events programme each year for the Festival. Those distilleries not usually open to the public but which open for the Festival may change from year to year. In 2015, Auchriosk, Glenallachie, Glenburgie, Glen Keith, Inchgower, Knockando, Longmorn, Roseisle, Speyside, Strathmill, Tamdhu and Tormore all opened their doors and offered Manager’s tours, tastings and more.
6. Does Spirit of Speyside offer a better whisky experience than other times of the year?
Over 400 events take place in the five days of the Festival, bringing Speyside to life with endless unique experiences to sample - not to mention a fantastic Festival atmosphere. There’s no other time of the year quite like it!
During the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, visitors are invited inside distilleries which are not normally open to the public, to see the whisky making process and meet the makers. Distilleries such as Glenallachie, Glen Keith, Inchgower, Mortlach, Roseisle, Speyside Distillery and Tamdhu have all opened their doors previously, making the Festival the annual whisky pilgrimage for many.
However, visitors can be certain that they will received a warm welcome to Speyside all year round. Many distilleries are open to visitors for most of the year. Others are seasonal and open from March or April until the end of October. See Speyside Distilleries for more information.
7. What time does the Festival start and end each day?
The first events of the day kick off around 09:00 and take place throughout the day until late evening. Live music events typically take place during the evening and have the latest starting times, some, but not all, as late as 22:00.
8. When do Festival tickets go on sale?
Like a good malt, it takes time to produce a characterful events programme. Tickets go on sale on at 12 noon (GMT) 2nd February 2016. The Festival programme will be visible on the Festival’s website on the 28th January 2016 so you can sit down, enjoy a dram and plan your Festival at your own pace. At this stage tickets are not for sale but the preview allows you to decide which events you would like to book.
9. What is the price of a Festival ticket?
Each Festival event is ticketed individually and can vary in price. Some events are free. The majority of tickets for many quality events and whisky tasting are priced between £30.00 and £60.00. The most exclusive events may cost up to £200.00 or £300.00. Whatever your budget, you’ll be sure to find an event to suit.
10. Is there a Festival pass?
No. Festival events are organised by our many partners and members and so this is not possible. See FAQ 9. ‘What is the price of a Festival ticket’ for more information on purchasing tickets.
11. How do I book a ticket for a Festival event?
Festival tickets go on sale at 12 noon (GMT) on 2nd February 2016. The Festival programme is launched a few days before this on 28th January 2016 so you can sit down, enjoy a dram and plan your Festival at your own pace. At this stage tickets are not for sale but the preview allows you to decide which events you would like to book. The programme can be filtered by event type, date, location or availability.
If you see an event you like, select “Buy Tickets” which will add the tickets to a shopping basket. The quantity of tickets can be amended here as required. Remember to select ‘Save Quantity’ before ‘Pay Securely Now’. Any items will remain in your basket for 15 minutes. Please note that a £1.50 booking charge will be added to each transaction.
After selecting “Pay Securely Now’, you will be directed to the payment page and asked to enter your details (your first name, last name, address, city and postcode), to accept our Terms and Conditions and enter your payment details.
Once the transaction is completed, you will receive a booking confirmation to your email address which you need to take with you to the event(s). Please see FAQ 26 ‘Help - I didn’t receive a booking confirmation’ if this does not appear.
12. What’s ‘My Itinerary’ and how do I use it to plan my Festival programme?
By creating a Festival account, you can plan your personal Festival experience and store all events you are interested in during the programme preview using ‘My Itinerary’. To create a Festival account, register here.
Next to all event listings, you will see an option - ‘Add to My Itinerary’. If you like something you see, click this link and it will be added. Events can be removed and added to your itinerary as you wish.
When Festival ticket sales are launched on www.spiritofspeyside.com, you can then log into your account and purchase all tickets stored in ‘My Itinerary’ by selecting 'Buy Tickets’ which will add the tickets to a shopping basket. See FAQ 11 'How do I book a ticket for a Festival event?' for further information on how to purchase a ticket.
13. How quickly do tickets sell out?
During our 2015 ticket launch, 52 events sold out in the first 24 hours of sales, with exclusive distillery tours, tastings and VIP whisky dinners topping the list, however, with over 400 events, there were still over 350 events to from which to choose. There are generally some tickets for events available during the Festival itself.
14. How can I pay for my tickets?
Visa and Mastercard are both accepted on the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival website. We regret we are unable to accept American Express cards or payments via PayPal and apologise for any inconvenience this causes.
15. Can I book tickets over the telephone?
All tickets must be booked online at www.spiritofspeyside.com. Unfortunately, payment for tickets cannot be taken over the telephone.
Not all tickets for events must be booked in advance, however, it is strongly recommended that you do book ahead to avoid disappointment on the day of the event.
16. Can I book tickets on the day of the event?
Yes, tickets can be booked on the day of the event.
At midnight, all remaining tickets for the following day’s events are taken offline but tickets may still be purchased by contacting the event provider directly. It is advisable to check for availability in advance.
17. Can I cancel my booking?
Yes, if you are no longer able to make an event, please let the event provider know by contacting them directly.
Please note that all tickets are generally non-refundable. See our Terms and Conditions for all information on purchasing tickets.
18. Can I get a refund?
All tickets are generally non-refundable. Please see our Terms and Conditions for all information on purchasing tickets.
19. Where are the nearest airports?
20. How do I travel to Speyside?
By air, rail or car, Speyside is just a trip away. See our Getting to Speyside page for all travel information.
21. Are there good public transport links in Speyside?
Speyside has a good local transport network and festival-goers use buses, trains and taxis to get around. See our Getting Around Speyside for information on how to travel about when you are here.
22. Can drivers taste whisky?
At the end of 2014, The Scottish Government decreased the drink drive limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood. The best advice is ‘Don’t Risk It’. See DrinkAware for more information.
The good news is that for any designated drivers, small empty sample bottles can be purchased from the Festival and at some distilleries into which you can decant whisky samples to taste later.
23. Where should I stay?
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place across the region, from Aviemore in the South, following the famous River Spey to central Speyside and Forres in the West. Within central Speyside popular villages to stay in are Aberlour, Craigellachie and Dufftown, however, there is a wide range of accommodation available in Elgin, Keith, Grantown, Aviemore and Huntly.
See our Accommodation page for our list of partners. From quaint self-catering cottages to historic hotels, you’ll be sure to find the perfect place to get a good night’s rest.
24. How do I get my ticket?
Following your online booking, a booking confirmation will be sent to the email address you provided. This confirmation acts as an e-ticket. All you have to do is print it out and take with you to the event. If you book more than one event in a single transaction, all events will be listed on one confirmation - just be sure to remember to take this with you to every event.
25. Help - I didn’t receive a booking confirmation.
Don’t worry. In the first instance please check your junk or spam folders in case that the email has been placed in them. If you've checked these folders in your email account and still cannot find your confirmation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you another.
26. Help - I’ve lost my booking reference number.
Please email the Festival team your full name at email@example.com and we’ll track it down for you.
27. What is the Whisky School and How Do I Register?
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky School is a renowned three day course which examines all aspects of whisky making including malting, mashing, brewing, distilling and maturation. It features fascinating in-depth lectures and a series of behind the scenes visits so pupils get a real understanding and experience of malt whisky making in Speyside. The lectures are presented by speakers of international standard - with over 200 years of experience between them - all from within the Whisky Distilling Industry and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. The Whisky School is aimed at whisky enthusiasts who wish to learn more about the technical aspects of the creation of malt whisky and is held prior to the Festival. All pupils depart with a Diploma.
To register your interest in taking part, contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org with Whisky School in the subject line. Please note that the 2016 Whisky School is fully booked and that there is a waiting list for the 2017 School.
28. When does the 2017 Festival take place?
The dates of the 2017 Festival are Thursday 27th April - Monday 1st May.
29. How can I keep up-to-date with Festival news?