The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has strengthened its team ahead of the 2016 event by making two key appointments. Pery Zakeri, who previously held the post of festival administrator, takes on the new role of festival manager, while Mark Angus – a key member of the team at world renowned whisky merchants Gordon & MacPhail – joins the board of directors.

Pery has been festival administrator for the past year, and this new appointment will see her take on additional responsibilities in organising the Festival – one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. 

As well as having extensive experience in the whisky retail sector, Mark has first-hand knowledge of running Festival events. Gordon & MacPhail has been an ardent supporter of the Festival over the years: the firm has staged many events, and a great number of these have been based at the retail shop in Elgin. Mark will be adding expert knowledge to the volunteer board.

The announcement comes as plans start to get underway for the 2016 event, which will take place at venues across Speyside from April 28 to May 2, 2016. Organisers hope to host another record-breaking event, with an exciting programme blending whisky, music, food and fun.

James Campbell, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, says, “These are fantastic appointments for the Festival, as both Pery and Mark have excellent experience that will only enhance the Festival in years to come.

“The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is already renowned as one of the best events of its kind anywhere in the world, and we have every confidence in Pery and Mark helping to further build its reputation, alongside other members of the board.

“We all want to work together to raise the bar even higher on the quality of the Festival experience, ensuring that visitors – who come from as far afield as the USA, South America and Australia – have an unforgettable time here with us on Speyside celebrating our national drink.”

In her role as festival manager, Pery will be reporting directly to the chairman and board of directors. The board is selected from volunteers who provide expertise in key areas of the whisky industry, culture and heritage, tourism and hospitality.

Pery has worked with the Festival since 2014, and was responsible for working with Festival providers to co-ordinate a vibrant and exciting programme of events. This will remain within her remit, along with implementing the board’s vision to increase the number of visitors and the economic impact they make on Speyside.

Brought up in Speyside, Pery has previous experience in delivering a number of internationally renowned events, including the European Pipe Band Championships and the Belfast City Marathon. 

“This past year has been one of the most amazing periods of my career, and I am very much looking forward to working with the board and ensuring the Festival continues to be one of the leading events of its kind.

“The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has unlimited potential to put the region on the map with visitors at both home and abroad, and its importance to the local economy cannot be underestimated,” says Pery.

Mark has 32 years of experience in the retail sector, the past seven being spent with Gordon & MacPhail at the company’s historic flagship store in Elgin. He is an honorary distiller at Benromach Distillery – which is owned by Gordon & MacPhail – and is a respected judge on the whisky tasting circuit.

Mark explains, “As a Festival events provider, I am only too well aware of the popularity of the Festival and its international appeal. Gordon & MacPhail’s retail shop is never busier than at Festival time, and it is a pleasure to see the impact the event makes on the local community.

“I am eager to get started and add my own knowledge and experience to the Board, and work with my fellow directors to help ensure the Festival becomes even bigger, better and stronger than it has been in the past.”

More information about the Festival is available via the website – The Festival is also active on social media – and @spirit_speyside on Twitter.

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