Speyside Distillery – the home of SPEY whisky – is opening its doors to the public for the second year in a row for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Visitors to the Festival – which takes place from Thursday April 28 to Monday May 2 – will have the rare opportunity to see inside the picturesque distillery at exclusive behind the scenes tours and tastings.
For 360 days of the year, the skills behind producing SPEY whisky is kept a closely guarded secret as the distillery is not open to the general public.
But all that changes during the Festival – a five-day celebration of Scotland’s most famous export – when a small group of lucky visitors get to discover the secret for themselves and see what goes on behind the distillery’s closed doors.
Distillery manager Sandy Jamieson, who has 37 years of experience in the industry, says that feedback from last year’s Festival was extremely positive and he’s looking forward to doing it all over again.
He adds, “Last year we were the newcomers to the Festival, so we didn’t really know what to expect. The entire five days went by so quickly and by the end we were all overwhelmed with all the fantastic responses we received from visitors.
“It was great meeting with whisky enthusiasts who were all extremely interested in SPEY whisky and how it’s created. As the distillery is not normally open to the public, people get a real feel for how the place runs on a day-to-day basis. It’s always really rewarding meeting people who are genuinely interested in what we do.
“We keep the groups quite small, as we’re a small distillery, so it’s very personal and they’re able to ask questions and interact with me throughout.”
The picturesque distillery, which is located near Kingussie in the south of the Speyside region, is hosting exclusive distillery tours on each day of the Festival.
Guests will then have the chance to participate in nosing and tasting of four of Sandy’s specially selected single malts, which will include expressions with vintage or cask finishes such as bourbon, sherry or port.The ticket price of £30 also includes tea, coffee and light bites, and there may be an opportunity to view Speyside Distillery’s artist in residence Joanna Miller at work. Joanna is a former student of the Princes School of Traditional Arts and has provided artistic links between SPEY and the school. She specialises in print making, with a special interest in screen printing.
This year, visitors have the chance to take home a bottle to remind them about their experience. An exclusive retail shop will be set up selling a range of rare and limited edition SPEY bottlings that are not available anywhere else in the world. The shop can only be accessed by Festival visitors, and will close down as soon as the curtain falls on the event.
Festival-goers will also be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the taste of SPEY whisky whilst on board the Strathspey Steam Railway. Speyside Distillery is providing afternoon tea with a whisky-infused twist – an on-board nosing and tasting of four different expressions and two limited editions, all accompanied by sandwiches, scones, cakes, tea and coffee. Tickets are priced at £35.
Tickets for all of the events at Speyside Distillery are available to buy now through the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival website, www.spiritofspeyside.com The Festival comprises almost 500 different events, including distillery tours, whisky tasting, food events and music.