THE DAYS ARE getting longer and there is just a whiff of the forthcoming spring in the air – for Moray and Speyside that means it is once again time for the Spirit of Speyside.
Tickets are set to go on sale this week for the annual festival that brings thousands of visitors to the region – and this year many will be seeking out entry to distilleries that have until now remained firmly closed to the public.
The hottest tickets for the Festival this year look like being those made available for the Speyburn, Knockdu and Balmenach distillers, who are all taking part for the first time – making them a sure-fire attraction when tickets sales open on Tuesday.
Other distilleries which are only opening to the public during the festival which runs from April 26 to May 1 – these include Tamnavulin, Speyside, Dalmunach, Tormore, Glenallachie, Glen Keith and Longmorn.
Boormalt Maltings at Buckie will also be inviting festival goers inside: it took part last year and its tours were among the first events to sell out.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival manager Pery Zakeri says she expects many hot tickets to disappear within hours of going on sale: “If you are a real whisky enthusiast then you will understand and appreciate just how special it is to be able to access these distilleries, and it is why tickets for these events sell out so quickly.
“It is almost like belonging to a small and exclusive club because so few people can say that they have stepped across the threshold. For those who are truly passionate about Speyside whisky, being able to say they have visited somewhere only a handful of other people have been is like wearing a badge of honour.
“There are many distilleries in the region with facilities that allow visitors to turn up at any time and take a tour, but only during the Festival can people get inside virtually all our 50-plus local distilleries.
“Our ability to get venues that do not usually host visitors to run exclusive tours over the five days of the Festival is what makes the difference between our event and other festivals. We have been running for almost 20 years and connoisseurs – as well as those who are just getting a taste for Scotch whisky – know that this is where they need to come if they want an authentic whisky experience.”
Tickets will be on sale from 12noon on Tuesday with the full programme for The Spirit of Speyside 2017 already published on the festival web site.
Festival chairman James Campbell is looking forward to another record-breaking year for an event that has captured the attention of visitors from around the world: “For years Speyside has been a bit of a hidden gem, but we now welcome visitors from all over the world and a huge number travel to the event from outside Scotland.
“We’ve previously welcomed visitors from Australia, North America, South America, Africa and Asia as well as Europe and we are standing by to see yet another increase in international guests when the tickets go on sale on Tuesday.”