SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL for many lovers of Scotland’s national product – and the forthcoming Sprit of Speyside festival is offering some big opportunities to visit small, undiscovered distilleries.
Four weeks since event tickets went on sale for the 2016 Festival over 80 distillery tours, many at venues no usually open to the public, have already been sold out.
Despite that the pure size of the Festival means that there are still plenty of opportunities to learn more about the Distilleries that make up the world’s leading whisky region. Many are VIP tours – and many are free tours where guests might enjoy a dram at the end.
Festival manager Pery Zakeri says the speed at which tickets have sold for distillery tours and whisky tasting events has taken organisers by surprise – and it is expected there will be a further rush on tickets before the curtain rises on the event.
She said: “We know that events at distilleries not normally open to the public will sell very quickly, but the volume of tickets sold has been quite staggering.
“I think people now know that if they want the chance to see inside these distilleries, the only time they are going to be able to do that is during the Festival. But the good news is that some tickets are available, and the quality of the events is exceptional.
“There are quite a few events where guests are going to be given a very rare opportunity to sample some vintage malts and take part in unique experiences for a very reasonable cost.
“Our advice would be for visitors to make sure they book their tickets as soon as possible, because we fully anticipate that the vast majority of tours and tastings will sell out in advance of the Festival starting.”
Tours at venues such as Dalmunach, Knockando, Tomintoul and Inchgower distilleries sold out the day tickets went on sale, but limited numbers of tickets for tours of Aultmore, Speyside, Auchroisk, Dufftown and Coleburn, all distilleries that are usually closed to the public – are still available.
Whisky aficionados who want to push the boat out will be able to take part in some very exclusive events. Benromach Distillery is offering people with discerning noses the chance to select the next single cask that will be bottled as a Benromach Distillery Exclusive.
Featured Distillery visits….
Guests will be able to nose and taste a selection of cask samples before voting for their favourite, and then writing up the tasting notes. The £100 ticket price also includes a bottle of the malt once it has been bottled.
There’s also the chance to visit Drummuir Castle, the home of Diageo, which is only open to the company’s guests. The event costs £195 and will include a visit to Mortlach Distillery, a tutored in-depth nosing and tasting of the Mortlach range and a fine dining experience during which guests will enjoy wines from the cellars and an opportunity to pair whisky with food.
Visitors can learn about illicit distilling and whisky smuggling with Glenlivet Hill Trek, who will be transporting guests by eight-wheel-drive argocat into the hills above Glenlivet Distillery for an off-road tour. The ticket price of £130 includes a picnic lunch with a selection of drams in a stone-built bothy followed by an in-depth tour of The Glenlivet Distillery, which pioneer George Smith was the first to license as a distillery in the parish of Glenlivet in 1824.
In contrast, The Whisky Shop Dufftown will be staging taste challenges where visitors will be asked to vote on their favourite drams from the Speyside region and the rest of the world. The ticket price for these events is just £5, and includes samples of a range of top quality malts.
The Spirit of Speyside runs from April 28 to May 2 – tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com.