Mention the name Alan Winchester in whisky circles worldwide and people nod in recognition of someone who has dedicated his working life to whisky and in particular Speyside Malts.
Alan's contribution to Speyside and whisky has long been recognised by the industry and the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is delighted to announce that Alan is this year's recipient of the Ambassador of the Year Award, given to the person, community or company who has contributed most to the Festival.
James Campbell, Chairman of the Festival, presented Alan with the Festival Quaich. He said: "I am delighted and honoured to have been given this Award. It is great to be involved with the Festival and contribute to its success and growth."
Up to his appointment as Master Distiller of The Glenlivet, Alan has worked at and been responsible for 20 distilleries, almost all on Speyside.
Alan's passion for Scotch whisky and walking in part inspired the creation of The Glenlivet Smugglers Trails in 2007. Created in conjunction with the Crown Estate who own many of the lands surrounding The Glenlivet Distillery, the trails allow members of the public to follow in the footsteps of the whisky smugglers of old as they transported their renowned for the illicit whisky out of the Glenlivet valley. Every May at the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Alan can be found personally leading walks along the trails, giving his personal insight and historical perspective to hoards of eager walkers and whisky lovers from throughout the world visiting the glen.
Aside from day to day distilling, Alan maintains a personal interest in the history of the industry, often trading thoughts and discoveries with industry colleagues and journalists around the world some of whom seek Alan's approval on points of fact and myth.
Alan Winchester remains a highly regarded distiller amongst his peers. In 1997 Alan was made a Keeper of the Quaich. In 2008 he was made President of the Malt Distillers Association, a three-year tenure, and is the current Chairman of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in Scotland.
Festival Chairman James Campbell commented," The decision to recognise Alan's contribution to the on-going success of the festival was unanimous. He is an excellent Ambassador for Whisky, and in particular Speyside, worldwide and his enthusiasm is infectious. We are delighted to add Alan's name to the list of previous exceptional holders of the Quaich".
James continued, "2012 was a fantastic festival with ticket sales up 40% and a number of events sold out very quickly. Overseas visitor numbers were up on 2011 and there was a significant increase in the number of woman visiting the festival. The festival could not take place without the support of our members and event providers who go to such great lengths to ensure that visitors to Speyside have a memorable experience. The Festival makes a valuable financial contribution to the local economy, generating an economic impact this year of £1.3 million over five days. It also actively promotes this unique part of Scotland to a global audience all year round.'
The dates of the 2013 festival are 2 - 6 May 2013