Whisky Magazine Issue 22
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It's bigger, it's better and it's back – yes, once again, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is upon us and the organisers promise a host of good things. Ian Buxton investigates
First of all, check your diary. The 2002 Whisky Festival runs from 3rd to 6th May inclusive and, to really enter into the spirit of things, you should take the whole long weekend (and perhaps a day or two to recover afterwards).
Speyside comes alive for the Festival and this year will be no exception. However, what really marks out the 2002 event as very special is the sense of local involvement. “Speysiders are really getting behind the programme,” organiser Stewart Buchanan told me. “There's a fantastic community feel developing around the Festival with grass roots events drawing on a local market as well as bringing in sophisticated international visitors.”
Stewart was not exaggerating about the global appeal – last year's visitors included groups from Chile, Brazil and Argentina and even some hardy souls from the Falkland Islands.
So, if this Whisky Festival is worth coming halfway round the world to get to, what can you expect? The organisers promise ‘whisky, music, food and fun throughout Speyside' so let's begin with the main attraction, the cratur itself.
Of course, many Speyside distilleries are open all year round. Tourism is vital to the local economy and whisky visitor centres promote their rival brands and create vital jobs to replace those lost to mechanisation. But, if it's possible, for four days their doors open even wider, the welcome is warmer and you get to see some distilleries normally closed to the public.
Many aficionados, however, wil...