“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” So said Mark Twain. If, like all of us at The Sybarite, you agree with the American author, then you’ll want to seek out the Spirit of Speyside: Distilled – an exciting brand new food and drink festival that will bring together the area’s best whisky producers under one roof - and on their own doorstep - for the very first time.
Taking place in Elgin– the largest town in Speyside – from September 9-11, the festival will give attending Sybarites the chance to learn more about Speyside’s fabulous food and drink producers, and to taste an array of fine whiskies from world famous brands Cragganmore, Cardhu, The Glenlivet and Aberlour - beer, gin and food.
The event is an offshoot of the long running Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which takes place every year over the May Day holiday weekend, attracting an international audience of whisky lovers. It comprises almost 500 events over multiple venues, but organisers thought there was scope to create a mini-festival in one place that would appeal to people who enjoy whisky but do not want to create an extensive itinerary.
Enter Spirit of Speyside: Distilled - which kicks off at Elgin Town Hall on Friday 9 September with an evening session from 7–11pm. There are two sessions on the Saturday – from 1-5pm and again from 7-11pm – with the final session on the Sunday from 12-4pm. Sybarites will be able to meet the people behind the products, from master distillers to brand ambassadors, and can also book their place on masterclasses covering topics from cocktails to food pairing.
What’s more, if you share the same name as one of Speyside’s famous distilleries, you’ll qualify for complimentary entry. “I would imagine that there might be a few people out there called Glen Keith or Ben Rinnes. Who knows, maybe there are even some Mac Allans,” says Spirit of Speyside: Distilled festival manager Pery Zakeri. “Whatever the name, if they share it with one of our famous distilleries, then we will be happy to provide free entry to any one of the four sessions taking place at Spirit of Speyside: Distilled. After all, they are technically brand ambassadors for our Speyside whisky, spreading the name wherever they go in the world.
“Whisky is our most famous export but to the people who live here and who work in the industry, it is more than just a product to be bought and sold. It is the lifeblood of the area, so we salute all the Glen Grants, Glen Murrays, Ben Riachs - or Reiachs - out there who are flying the flag for Speyside.”
By Kaye Holland