Whisky and water, scotch on the rocks – now there is a new perfect match for the nation’s favourite tipple as Scotland gears up to celebrate its Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design in 2016. 

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which takes place in Scotland’s most prolific whisky producing region, will show how the multi-million pound global industry has been built on the exact principles which will be nationally recognised over the next 12 months. 

The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative – led by national tourism agency VisitScotland and a number of partners – which aims to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding contribution to everything from technology to textiles and architecture to craft.

Festival chairman James Campbell says that the union of innovative design and traditional whisky production was a fitting achievement to be celebrated during the themed year. 

He adds, “From the bold, innovative moves of illicit distillers who pioneered production to the world famous architectural design of the pagoda which has become a hallmark of Speyside’s distilleries, whisky would not be the multi-billion pound industry it is today without these innovators.  

“This amalgamation of heritage and innovation is what makes Speyside whisky so unique and we look forward to sharing our traditions and passion for Scotch malt whisky with visitors to the Festival.  

“The five day event offers a rare opportunity for whisky aficionados, and beginners alike to learn more about the malts that have made our region world famous.” 

The result of a successful marriage between traditional heritage and cutting edge production, Scotland’s national tipple is the reason why thousands of visitors will flock to the region for the 17th year of whisky festivities. 

Thousands of visitors will flock to the 17th annual festival, which runs from April 28 – May 2. The five day celebration raises a toast to Speyside’s internationally acclaimed malt whisky through exclusive tastings, tours and appreciations. 

The programme is made up of over 400 unique events, including a selection of new attractions, ensuring there’s something for everyone.  For those who appreciate the region in equal measure to the whisky, the Festival has organised a range of entertainment from comedy and crafting to cookery and indulgent dinners, as well as heritage walks and scenic excursions.  

Scotland’s first themed year ran in 2009 as the year of Homecoming. The success of the project brought about a range of benefits to the country and boosted tourism overall. Following on from this, the Scottish Government announced a series of themed years to showcase the country as a dynamic and creative nation through a yearlong plethora of programmed events. 

“The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is a terrific success story and has attracted many thousands of overseas visitors to Scotland,” explains Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events.

“Although an industry that has a long-established heritage, whisky production in Scotland embraces creativity and innovation to supply global demand. 

“This fits perfectly with the theme of Innovation Architecture and Design and visitors can look forward to finding out about this interesting side of our national drink during the festival in 2016.”

Speyside contains more than half of all Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries – over 50 in total – and the vast majority of them will be staging events during the Festival, including many that are not usually open to the public. 

Contrasting heritage with contemporary, the programme will, for the first time, feature the oldest operating distillery in the Highlands of Scotland – Strathisla, established in 1789 - and the newest - Dalmunach which was officially opened in June 2015 by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. 

Information about the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival can be found on the website www.spiritofspeyside.com where tickets will be on sale from early February. The Festival is also active on facebook.com/WhiskyFestival, Twitter and Instagram @spirit_speyside.

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