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Issue 56 - Spirits rising

Whisky Magazine Issue 56
June 2006


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Spirits rising

There's a real sense of purpose on Speyside at the moment, reflected by its rapidly developing Spirit of Speyside Festival. Dominic Roskrow reports

Put it down to the eight outstanding whiskies we'd had to taste and judge, the fact that the dinner was served late or that the generally amenable ambience, but Alex Salmond couldn't stop beaming.

The Scottish National Party leader had stepped in at the last moment to replace SNP member of parliament Angus Robertson, who was tied up with a by-election campaign, and he was clearly enjoying himself.

“If you see me on television later tonight and I look happier than normal,” he told the dinner guests, “it might just be down to the fact that I've enjoyed one or two of these splendid whiskies.” And they were splendid. They had been chosen by a Whisky Magazine panel and there were eight of them instead of the suggested six. All of them outstanding. Guests had to taste them and then select their favourites in three categories – what a marvellous start to the Speyside festival.

Fitting, too, that the dinner, held in a warehouse at the picturesque Strathisla Distillery set the standard for what has become an excellent advertisement for this most fertile but traditionally not particularly united whisky region.

Traditionally only Chivas Brothers has bothered to promote the festival, but with an energetic and talented Spirit of Speyside Festival committee in place that's changing, and fast.

Before we'd even arrived at the dinner the sense of dynamism in the region had swept over us. The Glenlivet is in the process of having its visitor facilities upgraded, for instance, ne...

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