VISITORS TO MORAY and Speyside for the what has become the world’s foremost annual whisky festival could do worse than call in for a chat with Lyndsey Gray.
For those not in the know, Lyndsey is the 28-year-old who has an incredible passion and almost endless knowledge of Whisky.
Many a man and woman of much greater years have been completely blown away when they discovered the depth of Lyndsey’s knowledge – and more have been making that discovery since she became bar manager at the Craigellachie Hotel almost two years ago.
She is also in charge of curating the Hotel’s Quaich Bar’s world famous whisky collection, a library created as part of the hotel’s £3million refurbishment in 2014.
Lyndsey said: “We have a massive amount of international visitors and people coming here are very much looking for whiskies from Speyside, including rarer whiskies and ones that may be discontinued.
“I’ve got a very nice shopping list of whiskies that I’d like to include that I need to get approval for!”
The Craigellachie is currently getting ready for the Spirit of Speyside festival from April 28 to May 2, when thousands of whisky fans from around the world arrive in the region.
Lyndsey said: “The whisky festival brings massive benefits and it’s fantastic to see so many people coming back again and again, which says a lot for a festival now in its 17th year.
“A lot of people assume I’m a bar tender and are surprised that I’ve curated the whisky collection and manage the bar, so I do get a lot of ‘oh, so you know what you’re talking about’. It’s not being a woman that surprises, but being younger than what people expect.
“It’s been a whirlwind, from the people I have met, to the opportunities that I’m being given. To be woken up by a phone call and Charlie MacLean being on the line, being asked to judge at the world whisky awards – it’s all pretty incredible.”
Lyndsey is all for people finding the best way to enjoy the spirit to suit their tastes, and is pleased to have the freedom – and a collection of 800 drams – to help customers sample a diverse range of styles.
“Whisky is there to be enjoyed just like any other spirit and it’s very much up to the individual whether they choose to drink it in a cocktail, neat, or by adding water or ice, but it’s all about enjoyment.
“Cocktails have become a massive trend and whisky is the perfect ingredient in my opinion as it opens so many different flavours there are endless options to match and enhance and give people a different experience.
“It’s great to have the scope to get people into whisky, whether that is with a cocktail, or a malt. Because I don’t work for one of the drinks companies, and we have such a big collection, I have a full range of whiskies at my fingertips. “
Details about the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival can be found on the website www.spiritofspeyside.com where tickets for a variety of events are currently on sale.