1 –> Indulge in some great drams: Of course, that comes with no surprise, the number one reason why you ABSOLUTELY need to attend next year’ edition of Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is the liquid offer – and I’m not talking about the Scottish rain here…
Speyside is home to more than half of all Scottish distilleries: from recent ones like Ballindaloch to old gems fuelled with heritage like Glenfarclas, producing a large array of expressions, you’ll never be able to taste them all (but you can still set yourself a challenge and try? Just don’t say it was my idea if you end up waking up from a black-out in a random Speyside hospital).
50+ distilleries open their doors every year at the end of April, organising special tours, tastings and other one-of-a-kind experiences. This year only, I had the chance to visit Auchroisk with a golden flower crown in my hair (pre-gala dinner visit), Cragganmore guided by Distillery Manager Kevin Innes (which only welcome around 4000 visitors a year), Glenfarclas for an heritage-focused tour, Ballindaloch and Glenfiddich for Grant’s Secret Blending Lab hosted by global brand ambassador Rob Allanson – to name but a few. Much more than distilleries, you’ll get to attend tastings in all shops, bars, hotels & many other venues in the area that have decided to take part in the festival, enabling you to discover some pretty hidden paradises!
2 –> Meet some inspiring people: You know why I love whisky. Because it really is more than a simple product, and the people involved all along the production chain are a huge part of its appeal to me. SOSWF is all about sociability, convivialité and genuine friendliness. Going to the festival is like attending the annual gathering of a huge family – you can even witness everyday competitors holding hands on the Ceilidh dancefloor (where you won’t have any other choice but to get involved!) – which as I stated in this article, is a real breath of fresh air from a French point of view!
3 –> Discover a too-often underrated area: Speyside is much more than whisky and the festival is a great moment to enjoy other activities. I must admit I get a bit tired visiting distilleries and drinking whisky all the time after a few days and a dry “day off” is always more than needed. For those kinds of days, Speyside has a lot in stock! You can take a step back in time and visit splendid castles like Ballindaloch or Gordon Castle, take a canoe trip on the river Spey, go for a wild Argocat trek on the hills surrounding Glenlivet or even participate in a barrel-rolling contest! Not in the mood for any outdoor activities? Book the Caperdonich Suite at The Station Hotel in Rothes and enjoy a relaxing break, trust me, you’ll be in for a treat!
4 –> Shake your booty at Dog Fest: a 2-days of whisky and music festival held at the famous Craigellachie hotel – all sold out prior to the event this year so make sure to book in advance for next edition if you want to be in for some great jamming moments! And extra “plus side”: there won’t be anyone to look down at you if you prefer going for some local beer pints instead of your usual snobby drams ;). This year, The Copper Dogs even managed to offer us a happy version (A HAPPY VERSION!) of Radiohead. So yes, what happens at Dog Fest stays at Dog Fest…
5 –> Create unforgettable memories: whether you decide to go on your own or with a bunch of friends, there’s no doubt you’ll come back home after 5 days of malted celebrations with this weird feeling that I like to refer to as “post festival syndrom” (the kind of feeling I used to experience when I was 12 and going back home to my parents after a 3-weeks summercamp in the French countryside with 1548998 other screaming children… Not really exotic or appealing I know – probably even completely dreadful when I think about it now…)