Hopes that wintry weather will not detract Whisky Festival

IT HIS HOPED that the current wintry weather will clear up in time for one of the most anticipated annual spring events in Moray and Speyside.

The Spirit of Speyside kicks off officially tomorrow (Wednesday) – and with the currently miserable weather set to continue at least until then it’s as well that most of the events are indoors!

With the Festival now in its 18th year for 2017 it will be a five-day event encompassing 500 activities taking place throughout Whisky Country.

Wednesday’s Gala Dinner opening event at the Glen Moray Distillery in Elgin gets things started – and will be followed from Thursday with visitors taking part in exclusive behind the scenes tours at distilleries that are only opening their doors to the public during the Festival.

New records were set when Festival tickets went on sale in February – a staggering 85 events selling out within the first 24 hours. Sales during that period came from a greater number of overseas locations than in previous years, and organisers hope it is an indication that more international visitors will attend the celebrations than ever before.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival chairman James Campbell says: “The stage is set – all we are waiting for is the thousands of whisky enthusiasts from home and abroad to arrive so that we can get the party started.

“The Festival turns 18 this year – some would say that it’s finally legal – and we certainly hope that it will be a birthday party to remember. All the signs are that we can expect five very busy days welcoming regular Festival-goers and brand new attendees.”

Although many of the visitors will come from overseas – particularly the USA and Europe – the events attract hundreds of locals and home-grown whisky lovers. There is still some late availability for some events, and others require no entry ticket at all.

Festival manager Pery Zakeri says the organising team has been taking calls every day from eager revellers interested in attending events, helping those who are making a last-minute decision to attend plan their itineraries.

She added: “For the most part we have been able to help customers get tickets for events, but many of the exclusive distillery tours and opportunities to sample rare and vintage malts have been sold out for weeks.

“However, that is also part of the attraction of the Festival. It is only during the five days of the Festival that almost all the distilleries on Speyside will open their doors to welcome members of the public – for true whisky enthusiasts that represents a unique opportunity and it is why so many hundreds of people are willing to travel such distances to attend.”

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