DUFFTOWN IS DESCRIBED by some as little more than a sleepy Speyside town set in rolling hills that are enjoyed by a local population of just 1600.
For many more, however, it is the centre of the universe – or, at least, the whisky universe, sitting as it does in the very heart of Scotland’s world-famous whisky production region.
The small community will this weekend be buzzing as its population is bolstered perhaps ten times over, with visitors from around the world making a bee-line for the town regarded as a Mecca by lovers of our national product.
Dufftown is currently the epicentre of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – which this year is boasting over 500 events.
Festival manager Pery Zakeri says, “The ingenuity of event providers in Dufftown never ceases to amaze me. Just when you think they’ve done everything possible, they’ll come up with something completely new.
“The really great thing is how the community gets behind the event, and that’s important to us as a Festival because it all helps to give visitors such an authentic experience.
“They can come and meet the people who actually produce the whisky they drink, and then visit towns and villages and meet the locals for whom whisky is not just a product – it’s their lifeblood.”
Dufftown is renowned as the malt whisky capital because there is nowhere else with such a high concentration of distilleries – there is a saying that Rome was built on seven hills, while Dufftown stands on seven stills.
Visitors will be able to see these distilleries in a walk organised by local tour guide Michelle Myron.Population explosion is enjoyed by Dufftown as whisky lovers flock to the town
But, being Dufftown, this isn’t just an ordinary walk – Whisky and WAGS is a 6km hike around the village for women-only during which they will taste drams from the distilleries paired with exquisite chocolates from Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatiers.
There are still some places available on the walk, which takes place on Saturday and sets out at 4pm.
Michelle said: “Dufftown is always a very special place to visit at any time of the year, but there is always a fantastic buzz during the Festival. We have some great events lined up, and lots going on that will bring both local people and visitors together.”
Mike Lord is owner of The Whisky Shop Dufftown – an Aladdin’s cave of whisky which many visitors make a pilgrimage to during the Festival. He is one of the Festival’s most prolific event providers, and has been responsible for introducing some of the most unusual events to the programme.
Mike says, “Dufftown is the beating heart of the malt whisky industry, producing something like 40 million litres of pure alcohol per year. Over 10% of the industry’s capacity is in our town – that’s the same amount of alcohol as in over 140 million bottles of whisky.
“Breathing in all that angelic air is probably why each year we come up with so many different events from the norm for The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
“Whether it’s finding the best malt to go with a bacon a roll or an in-depth tasting on the influence of different woods on the maturation of whisky we have it all. We try and make whisky fun and informative for everyone.”
Tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme, including The Glenlivet Over the Decades, are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com.