Three Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival devotees who have supported and promoted the drams-fest to audiences at home and abroad were honoured when the 2017 event kicked off last night (Wednesday, 26 April).

Walkers Shortbread boss Jim Walker, Glen Moray Distillery manager Graham Coull and Dutch whisky writer Hans Offringa were each singled out for contribution they have made to the Festival and to Speyside.

A lifetime of service to Speyside and its communities saw Jim Walker receiving the Spirit of Speyside Award.

When Mr Walker joined the family business in 1961 the company employed around 100 people. Alongside his brother, Joe and sister, Marjorie, they developed the business which at its seasonal peak employs over 1,700 people and is Scotland’s largest food exporter.  Walkers is the only UK food manufacturer to have won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Export Achievement four times.

Ambassador of the Year Graham Coull manages Glen Moray Distillery where he has overseen huge investment and growth whilst tirelessly working to expand and enhance the distillery’s product portfolio. Mr Coull’s role as master distiller at Glen Moray has seen him travel extensively all over the UK and the world, and Glen Moray continues to support many clubs, charities and organisations in the local community too.

International Ambassador of the Year Hans Offringa is a bilingual author, media expert and whisky connoisseur. He has written nearly 20 books on whisky and numerous articles for various publications across the globe, and has produced a series of educational television programmes for a public broadcasting company in The Netherlands as well as being a lecturer at the International Whisky School in Groningen, Netherlands. He has been a great supporter of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and has attended every Festival since it started back in the year 2000.   

James Campbell, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, says that all three have had an immense impact on the success of the Festival, which attracts thousands of enthusiasts from around the world to the spiritual home of Scotland’s whisky industry.

“Jim has been a great supporter of Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival since its inception and has made a major contribution to Aberlour and the wider Speyside communities in so many ways over the years. The way in which Mr Walker and his family have overseen the worldwide growth of Walkers Shortbread has been a shining example of excellence,” Mr Campbell says.

“Graham has also been a passionate supporter of Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, and has gone the extra mile on many occasions to help out and to promote the event.

“Hans has written about and promoted the Festival in English and Dutch in a range of publications, enhancing its reputation to potential visitors all over the world.”

The awards were presented last night at the Festival’s opening dinner, attended by 270 guests, which marked the start of the 18th annual Speyside drams fest.

Based in the heart of Scotland’s malt whisky country, the festival continues until May 1, 2017 with comprises almost 500 events, taking place from Kingussie in the south to Forres in the west and Buckie in the east.

There are still some event tickets available, and the website – – is updated on an ongoing basis to show latest availability. The Festival is active on social media – and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #dram17.

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