Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spirit of Speyside

Since 2001 I have been visiting a whiskyfestival called Spirit of Speyside regularely. Not every year, but something like every 2nd year on average.

It scheduled every year around the first weekend in May, which is also a bank holiday weekend. The majority of events are friday to monday, but a few events are also scheduled both before and after, making this in reality a week long event if you wish.

The festival is made of of hundreds of events, where you pick and choose whatever you like. The most popular events are sold out more or less instantly when the events go online around January

Looks like the right place

All year round there are lots of distilleries in Speyside (and Scotland) that schedules tours, special tours, extra special tours and ultra extravagant special tours. These are still there at SoS with a LOT of extra added.  At the SoS weekend some distilleries not normally open to the public will have scheduled tours and some distilleries will have different and more special (better!) tours than normally available. The distilleries that open specially for the public this weekend tends to change a bit from year to year so there is always some reason to come back. It will take years to get around all the events you really want to go to

A lot of the events are centered around Dufftown and a lot of these are organised by the Whiskyshop Dufftown. Several tastings every day, often hosted by companies like Wemyss, Cadenhead, Duncan Taylor, Gordon and MacPhail, Adelphi and so on.

Bus trips will start from various points, most often Dufftown, taking smaller groups to special distillery visits and tastings all over Speyside and even slightly beyond.

Especially the later years the organising committee has also been listing a lot of possibilities of transport around Speyside which can make it easier for guests getting around. Speyside is a big area and this is something I really welcome and that has eased things a bit. A special thanks to Diageo for partly sponsoring buses and taxis, I really appreciate this

Some of my favourite events has been the day long bus trips centered around the three whisky towns Rothes, Elgin and Dufftown. These three events are very popular and usually among the first to sell out. These tours are Spirit of Speyside in essence in my opinion, and its nice to see the staff meeting up on a saturday to participate as happened at Glenlossie and Mannochmore in 2010

Sunny Dufftown in 2011. 

Gordon and MacPhail usually have a full schedule of various tastings in Elgin, there are various music events, dinners, quiz nights (they are fun), casual tastings, walks, canooing, wildlife trips, restaurents etc.. So many things do that for all kind of interests. Have a look at the official webiste here to get an idea:

If you want to go, you need to start planning something like a year in advance. Planning a trip to this festival can be a bit of a pain. You need to plan events carefully, it can be a jigsaw puzzle to match things. Things you want to go might sell out. Events come up you want to go to when you have allready booked something and getting accomodation can be hard. Experience is clearly an advantage when planning this. The last few years the organising committee have tried to make all events go public at the same set time, but a few good events always pop up later and if you allready booked something else you can't really go

Expect rain though

The events are not the bargains they used to be and some events I simply find too expensive these days, but expensive events will regulate themself, if people stop signing for them

I have particular enjoyed the Rothes distilleries tour in 2009, the 7 Stills of Dufftown distillery tour in 2011, the whiskyquiz at Strathisla in 2011, Benromach visit in 2009 with a vertical Benromach tasting, a Mortlach vertical with Gordon and MacPhail in 2009, a visit to Benriach in 2011, Glenfarclas tour and tasting in 2005, the tastings in Dufftown are always fun and the dreg party at the Whiskyshop Dufftown is a great way to end the festival

Fun in the Whiskyshop Dufftown

In 2013 I will be with a group of 8 whiskyentusiasts, 7 danes (THE DANISH DRINKING TEAM) and one american (poor guy), with a full packed schedule of 5 days that looks like a lot of fun. We will be visiting Tomintoul, Glenlivet, the Quiz at Glenlivet, Strathisla, Longmorn, Tamdhu, Glenglassaugh, Tomatin, Miltonduff, Highlander Inn and several tastings. 

Benriach 2011

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