The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival continues to grow as a global phenomenon with visitors from dozens of international destinations taking part in the five-day celebration of Scotland’s national drink.
As the curtain fell on the 2017 event, organisers have revealed that bookings came from a total of 37 different countries around the world, making it one of the best on record in terms of international festival-goers.
Visitors from key markets including Europe and North America came in large numbers, but were joined by whisky fans from nations including Venezuela, Korea and Japan.
Data about the Festival, which came to a close yesterday (Monday, May 1), will be analysed over the coming weeks but organisers are confident that it will be one of the best attended on record. It follows a record breaking start to ticket sales in February, when 85 events were sold out in the first 24 hours and £99,000 worth of tickets were sold in just 60 minutes.
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which has been taking place over the May Day bank holiday weekend for the past 18 years, comprised almost 500 events right across the region - recognised as the spiritual home of Scotch whisky due to the high concentration of distilleries.
Festival chairman James Campbell says, “It has been an incredibly busy five days on Speyside and the feedback we have received from visitors has been phenomenal. Newcomers have told us they cannot believe the scale and variety of the Festival, while repeat visitors have said they have been spoiled for choice in terms of the quality of events on the programme.
“We will spend the next few weeks looking at all the data and information to see where we go for next year. It is clear that our international markets are becoming ever more important, and next year we aim to really focus on growing those.
“For the first time this year we launched a series of international judging sessions for our popular Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky Awards, with panels taking place in the Netherlands, Canada and Germany. We aim to stage even more judging sessions overseas in 2018.”
Festival manager Pery Zakeri adds, “It really has been a fantastic few days and we could not have wished for a better Festival. People now know that if they want to truly connect with Speyside whisky and have unique opportunities to meet the people who are involved in its production, then the Festival is the place to do it.”
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival was supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, says, “I am delighted to see so many people have travelled from around the world to attend the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Each year this wonderful Festival goes from strength to strength, continuing to develop its programme with new and innovative events for its ever growing audience.
“EventScotland is delighted to have supported the Festival, which is the perfect stage for celebrating our national drink.”
The next major milestone for the organising team will be staging the second edition of the Festival offshoot, Spirit of Speyside: Distilled. The event, which brings together the region’s whisky, gin, beer and food producers under one roof, took place for the first time last autumn and was very warmly received.
Visitors will be able 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 over the weekend of September 1 and 2. Tickets, which will go on sale in June, can be bought for four different sessions over the weekend.
For further information about the 2018 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, visit www.spiritofspeysode.com The Festival is also active on social media - facebook.com/whiskyfestival and on Twitter and Instagram @spirit_speyside.