A whisky buff who cemented his love for the amber nectar by graduating from a specialist school run by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, has become one of two new directors to join the board of the world-famous event.
Paul Rollo, who successfully completed the intensive five-day course earlier this year, will now be responsible for ensuring that the Festival continues to draw global audiences of whisky aficionados and novices.
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky School is a unique venture which allows students to develop an in-depth knowledge of whisky production that cannot be gained from distillery visits or from the pages of a book.
Paul (38) also runs a bar and live music venue – The Drouthy Cobbler – which has an impressive collection of single malts from Speyside and the rest of Scotland. He and a friend took on the property in Elgin – the capital town of the Speyside region – and carried out a significant refurbishment before launching it in 2013
He said: “Having grown up in the area, I have always been aware of how important whisky is to both the local and Scottish economy. After opening my own bar, I wanted to be able to further my knowledge of whisky and production and I was delighted to be able to gain one of only a handful of coveted places at the Whisky School.
“The Drouthy Cobbler became one of the key Festival venues this year, as I felt very strongly that we should be doing something to support an event that is introducing this exceptional local spirit to a wider audience.
“Joining the board of directors seemed the next logical step for me, and I am very excited by the prospect of helping the Festival to grow in scale and popularity in the years to come. It has developed at a phenomenal rate over the past three of four years, and I hope that the current board can steer it towards even greater success.”
Julie Fraser is the other new recruit to the board. Mrs Fraser, who takes on the role of company secretary, works at Glen Moray Distillery in Elgin while also helping to run the family double glazing business.
Her appointment is something of a reunion, as during the 1990s she was secretary to festival chairman James Campbell – a partner with accountancy firm Johnston and Carmichael. She explains, “I left in 1996 to join my husband at Cathedral Windows, which we have jointly owned for over 20 years.
“I have looked after the administration and sales side of things, but I have always been keen to seek out a new challenge. I have a taste for whisky in every sense, and I was fortunate to join the team at Glen Moray Distillery last year.
“The invitation to become company secretary for the Festival was a huge surprise and just too good an opportunity to pass up. I was delighted to accept and to find myself working alongside my old boss, James Campbell, as well as other members of the board.”
Mr Campbell adds, “The board is made up entirely of volunteers who balance their day jobs with running one of the biggest whisky festivals anywhere in the world. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has grown to become an outstanding contributor to the local economy, drawing thousands of visitors from around the globe every year.
“In order that we continue to see it go from strength to strength, it is essential that we enlist individuals with passion, drive and determination to put Speyside and the region’s whisky production on the map. We have certainly found that in Julie and Paul.”
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from April 30 to May 4 next year. Plans are already well under way for the 2015 event, with tickets due to go in sale in January. Further information about the Festival is available at www.spiritofspeyside.com