A trio of whisky stalwarts are the toast of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival after being honoured for their dedicated service that has helped put the region on the world map.
Brand support manager for Diageo, Linda Mellis, has been named Ambassador of the Year while French food and drink writer Martine Nouet was crowned International Ambassador.
In addition this year there is a new honour, the Spirit of Speyside Award, which has been presented to Dennis Malcolm in recognition of his half century of service to the industry, and communities, in Speyside.
The awards were made at the Touch of Tartan dinner held at Glen Moray Distillery on Wednesday attended by industry experts, staff, writers and visitors celebrating the opening of this year’s Spirit of Speyside Festival which runs until May 4.
Festival chairman James Campbell said: “In different ways, each award winner has shown incredible commitment to the Speyside whisky industry and to the festival itself.
“Their enthusiasm for the product is infectious, and the strong and longstanding links they have with the whisky and businesses and communities in Speyside, continues to grow and be enhanced.
“By doing so much to promote whiskies and this wonderful region of Scotland, Linda, Martine and Dennis have done an excellent job of putting Speyside on the world map and making the festival one of the leading events of its kind.”
Linda Mellis has worked in the industry for 43 years, starting out as a typist in 1972 and moving up through the ranks. Her current role sees her manage brand support and marketing of malt distilling as well as the distillery visitor centres and brand homes for drinks giant Diageo.
As well as her dedicated involvement in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Linda has had close connections to community events including the Bells Rotary Marafun, Moray Young Citizens’ Awards and the Classic Malts Rally.
French writer Martine Nouet always ensures Scotland’s finest food and drink receives the recognition it deserves. On her first visit to Scotland two decades ago, she visited Tamdhu Distillery and became so fascinated by the distillation process, the aromas and the culture and heritage behind making malt whisky that she fell in love with the ‘water of life’.
At this year’s festival, she will demonstrate to visitors how whisky works wonderfully well as an ingredient to add to dishes, as well as an accompaniment to them, during ‘Glass to Plate’ cookery sessions.
With his father and grandfather both working in the whisky industry, and having been born in the grounds of a distillery he went on to manage, Dennis Malcolm can truly be said to have a lifetime’s connection to whisky, starting as a 15-year-old cooper and going on to become a managing director and master distiller.
From Strathisla Distillery he ran Chivas Brothers’ nine malt distilleries, a grain distillery and three farms and got involved with introducing VIPs and guests to the world of Scotch whisky as a Brand Ambassador. A spell managing Balmenach Distillery followed, before returning to Glen Grant in April 2006 under the new owners Campari.
As well as his industry involvement, Dennis has been a great supporter of the town of Rothes, where he is a church convener and school board member. He is also a Justice of the Peace for Moray.
As one of the world’s biggest festivals celebrating of Scotland’s national drink, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival features a packed programme of overt 400 events, with music, crafts, food themes running alongside a wide range of distillery tours and tastings. The five day festival continues until May 4.
To find out more about the Spirit of Speyside festival visit www.spiritofspeyside.com