On the western edge of the famous mountain range, the Cairngorms, the River Spey begins in Loch Spey and runs in a northeastern direction to the north of Scotland. If Speyside sounds familiar, it is likely that you have heard of it because of the whisky distilleries there. Since 1999, the locals of the various towns and villages that call the region their home have been celebrating this special heritage with the yearly event, the Spirit Of Speyside Whisky Festival.
Why is Speyside so important? The region produces more whisky than any other part of the country, so it makes sense that many of the best loved and favoured varieties of Scotch originate from this part of Scotland. In fact, six of the top ten best selling single malts in the World can be found in a small radius at the centre of the region Unlike other events, the Spirit Of Speyside does not have one location or even a central starting point. It instead has various venues that participate with the festival across the region – all of them unique. Think distilleries old and new, quaint local village halls, luxurious whisky bars filled with 500 – 1000 malts, the great outdoors and even the River Spey itself.
Obviously, one of the biggest draws to this festival for anyone who favours a single malt as their tipple, is the tours and tastings of the local distilleries. As so much time, effort and love are put into the production of whisky, a trip to each of the many distilleries becomes a mini history lesson. One of the biggest draws to the festival is that it opens the doors to distilleries where no-one goes but the master distillers and brewers. In 2016, visitors from 37 countries made a pilgrimage to Speyside, ticking off distilleries on their bucket lists
In addition to tasting and seeing how all that great whisky is made, there is also a fascinating Festival Photography competition, open door events in some of the regions amazing landmarks and landscapes – from the hills to one of the greatest coastlines in the World (or so National Geographic think) and the very important, annual Whisky Awards. The annual Whisky Awards is an event not to be missed. It is the only whisky awards scheme in the World that places the power to determine the winners in the hands of consumers.
Even if you find the idea of spending a long weekend drinking scotch a bit too much to handle, there is always the glorious scenery that you can get drunk on instead.
Location & Address for Spirit Of Speyside Whisky Festival
Across Speyside, Scotland, AB38 9QP