You may have been living in some sort of cave or remote desert island with no WiFi connection if you didn’t know I was attending the first ever edition of Spirit of Speyside Distilled last weekend in Elgin (it’s not like I had been quiet about it… See here & here – you really have no excuse!). And now that I’m back in Edinburgh, I already miss the buzzing atmosphere of this new drinks festival, bringing all Speyside delicacies (from independent craft brewers to world-famous whisky names, local gin producers, boozy ice creams & other mouthwatering treats) under one roof.
Spey Valley Brewery: The first commercial “micro” brewery to be located in the heart of Speyside, Scotland’s whisky country. The company was set up in 2007 by a distiller and a local farmer who set out to produce world-class beers on a farm in Mulben. Initially brewing from a tiny pilot plant, for the first four years the company survived on the owners’ day jobs and focused exclusively upon getting the recipes and the products right; distribution was deliberately confined to a limited number of informed, local buyers. It wasn’t until 2011 that the first commercial casks arrived in the market. In early 2016, production moved to a dedicated unit – still on the farm! – enabling the company to become the largest brewery in Speyside – and probably the friendliest.
ElGin: Seriously… This brand name is just so perfect I still wonder why no one had thought about if before their Diageo-employee founders created the company earlier this year. Oh, and I should probably mention that beside creating a splendid fruity gin, they’ve designed what in my mind sounds like liquid heaven: a cocktail called the “Cranachan” – so yes, you know what to expect…
The Station Hotel – remember, I already introduced this Rothes whisky paradise to you guys a few months ago in a dedicated piece. And once again, I had the chance to stay there during the festival, probably being even more enthusiastic than after my first visit. This place just never disappoint: the beds are just too comfy to be true, the breakfast is always a delight and I could litteraly pitch my tent in the Toots Bar or The Spirit Safe to be able to go through all their whisky & gin selection. If you were attending the festival, you probably also remember the delicious Glenrothes & Caorunn cocktails they were serving at their stand… #TakeMeBack
“The Wood Makes The Whisky” – Masterclass by Gordon & Macphail: the last masterclass I got to attend on Sunday at noon (it’s never too early to enjoy a good whisky tasting session, is it?) – hosted by Stephen Rankin (Director of UK sales), which took us through 5 different expressions highlighting the impact of different types of cask on the whisky (covering all cask attributes that impact the spirit: from the type of wood to the size, shape of the cask and maturation time.). The 5 expressions we enjoyed during that particular session were (in order – I also tried to find you the links to the bottles when I could):
Strathmill 2002 14 years old (first-fill bourbon cask) 46% ABV
Speyburn 1989 24 years old (refill sherry hogshead) 46% ABV
Glen Lossie 1998 16 years old (refill sherry butt) 46% ABV
Linkwood 15 years old (first-fill sherry butt) 43% ABV
Rare Vintage Glen Grant 1954 60 years old 40% ABV (you read that right)
Glenfiddich Maverick Drams: another interesting masterclass hosted by UK brand ambassador and great entertainer Mark Thomson who took us through a selection of the brand’s single malt whiskies, including nectars from past and present. Amongst other drams, Mark’s selection for that day comprised the brand new Project XX release from the Experimental Series (I have no doubt you’ve heard of it by now…), the famous Snow Phoenix (which you can now only find at crazy prices on auction websites!) as well as a very surprising heavily peated expression (see pictures below). Overall, quite a nice way to rediscover a welknown brand like Glenfiddich.
As usual, I’ll leave you with some pictures from the show!