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6 reasons to visit the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival
I checked off a major bucketlist item at the start of May 2018 when I attended the 19th Spirit of Speyside whisky festival between May 4-6 : an event I have dreamt of attending in person for over half a decade. The best part was that it exceeded all my expectations and I will list 6 reasons why anyone wishing to experience a uniquely Scottish festival should attend atleast once (it's a must-visit for whisky fans but is guaranteed to be fun for all
). Next year's festival is scheduled to be between 2nd - 6th May 2019 and tickets go on sale in February!
- This is a fairly well-known fact but Speyside is home to more than half of Scotland's active distilleries. As a result, there were 500 events across the whole region in only 5 days and even whisky connoisseurs will be able to taste drams that they may have never seen or tasted before (Inchgower 14Y Flora & Fauna was my most memorable 1st time dram, the Benromach's smokiness packs a punch, also see #8)
- The festival transport arrangements were absolutely top notch. Not only was the Stagecoach bus 36 from Elgin to Dufftown through the "Malt Whisky trail" running through the whole festival including on Sunday! More so, there was a special all day bus pass pricing for festival goers for only £4 on showing a ticket. Apart from public transport, my favourite distillery (Glenlivet) raised the bar by providing a Free Bus from both Keith and Elgin for their Open Day on Sat 5th May where I met fellow Glenlivet fans from Japan, Norway and the USA. Of course, I took the front row seat on a spectacularly sunny day I will leave my full trip map and public transport connections in a comment
- The festival whisky awards are truly democratic as the public actually gets to vote for the winner through blind tastings and ballot papers! I got to taste 4 of the finalists at the spectacular Rothes Station Hotel (it has its own Spirit safe!) and I must say that the Cragganmore 25 was exceptional (and the overall winner!) There are judging events across the 5 days of the festival and are exceptionally popular.
- There are so many events that are not whisky related at all! (hence I highlighted that the festival is guaranteed to be fun for all) I sat on a 8-wheeler operated by the Glenlivet Hill Trek company to climb up a hill! The Cairngorms National Park was looking just stunning from the top and I felt like an astronaut. Both the opening and closing ceremonies had Ceilidhs and Craigellachie comes alive with bands playing during the festival. There were also some spectacular food-related events. Alchemy restaurant at Dufftown was fine dining at its best with its 7 courses + whisky pairing. The venison with chocolate and sherry poached pair was magic!
- The festival has some super-exclusive, once a year events (such as a tour of the Craigellachie distillery which is one of my faves along with Tamdhu, Knockando, Longmore, Tormore, Speyside, Speyburn, Knockdhu, Balmenach and Dalmunach which are generally closed to the public). Thanks to the festival chairman Mr James Campbell, I also got to see the erstwhile Tamdhu railway platform with the Spey in view. This should tell you how important whisky was the area.
I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog
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itinerary (fully by public transport)My Scotland travels
, Loch Lomond