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Issue 135 Out Now

Whisky Magazine Issue 135

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Japanese craft whisky, Sedgwick, Kentucky Peerless

Fri 20 May 2016

Success for entrepreneur and whisky bottler, Gregor Hannah

Premium single malt whisky bottlers, Hannah Whisky Merchants, recently picked up a Recommended Award for its bottling of Tobermory 1995, 20 Years Old when reviewed by us here at Whisky Magazine. Described as 'beautifully poised and balanced' by our taster Chris Goodrum, this is a remarkable achievement for a company which started in Fife, Scotland in 2012 by young entrepreneur Gregor Hannah, and shows great promise for future releases.

After struggling to secure funding for his start-up company, Gregor turned to Scotland’s foremost start-up business competition, the Scottish EDGE, which recently announced the launch of Young EDGE Loans, a new source of funding for Scotland’s youngest entrepreneurs and their start-up businesses. Offering loans of between £2,500 and £25,000, Young EDGE Loans is the Scottish EDGE’s first offering to use an application structure rather than a competition structure, and aims to fill the funding gap left by the closure of the Prince’s Trust’s Growth Fund in 2015.

The first recipient of a Young EDGE Loan, Gregor spoke of the challenges he faced in obtaining funding and the support the Scottish EDGE had given him: “There are limited lending options from banks in Scotland for very small businesses, even if you have ambitious growth plans, and if you’re under twenty-five or not involved in the technology industry you will struggle to receive awards or loans from third parties. Young EDGE Loans are one of the only places a young entrepreneur can go to obtain funding or support. The support the team at the Scottish EDGE provide is exceptional - there is a genuine warmth and want for people and individuals to succeed.” Hannah Whisky Merchants received a loan of £20,000 which will be used to finish the company’s single malt bourbon casks with sherry and other styles to create very unique flavours, alongside other capital expenditure projects.

Open to limited companies who have been trading for more than a year and whose directors are aged eighteen to thirty, Young EDGE Loans are funded by the Hunter Foundation and Royal Bank of Scotland. Head of Entrepreneurship at the Royal Bank of Scotland and Scottish EDGE Board Member, Gordon Merrylees, noted the importance of supporting Scotland’s young entrepreneurs’ throughout their business’ development; “Here at the Royal Bank of Scotland, we’re delighted to support Young EDGE Loans, continuing our successful relationship with Scottish EDGE. We believe that the support offered by Scottish EDGE and their partner organisations has the potential to transform the success of small businesses and look forward to seeing Gregor’s business, and those of other applicants, achieve their growth ambitions in the years ahead.”
Tue 03 May 2016

Curtain comes down on 2016 Spirit of Speyside Festival

The final drams have been sipped at the 2015 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – but organisers are already preparing to do it all over again. The curtain came down on over 500 events last night (Monday, 2 May) and now the team behind the world famous Festival are putting plans in place for a second event in the early autumn.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival took place over five days in the heart of Scotland’s best loved whisky producing region, drawing thousands of visitors from home and abroad for a programme combining the country’s national drink with music, food and fun.

New records were set when tickets went on sale for the Festival’s biggest ever programme earlier in the year. Festival chairman James Campbell says this year’s gathering in whisky’s spiritual home was one of the best on record.

He adds, “It will take us a little bit of time to find out what the overall numbers were, but the area was extremely busy for the full five days and, most importantly, everyone I saw and spoke to had nothing but great things to say.

“To see people at these events thoroughly enjoying themselves makes worthwhile all the planning and hard work of our volunteer directors, of the Festival manager and of all the other people who give up their own time to ensure the Festival is a success. Knowing visitors will leave the area with very special memories is hugely rewarding for all of us.

“I personally met visitors from over a dozen different countries – some who have been coming for years and others who were visiting for the first time – and it was really special to see all these visitors having such a great time side by side with local people.

“I think visitors are always surprised by the huge range of different events, and the fact that they can have access to the people who are involved in the very heart of our whisky industry. I don’t think any other whisky festival in the world can offer what we can.”

All eyes are now on Spirit of Speyside – Distilled, which will take place in Elgin Town Hall on September 9 to 11. It will bring together Speyside’s whisky producers under one roof on their own doorstep for the very first time.

The event will also include local gin and craft beer, along with a wide range of food producers, showing off the huge extent of Speyside’s larder. Spirit of Speyside - Distilled will be split into four sessions over the three days, with tickets being sold for each session.

It is hoped that the event will initially attract a more local audience, but in time Spirit of Speyside - Distilled will also become a destination for the many international visitors who attend the main event in May.

James adds, ”The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has grown to become a phenomenal event, but we felt that it was time to add a second event which did not require visitors to undertake a great deal of itinerary planning.

“We chose Elgin for the location because it is the transport hub for the area, with excellent rail and road links. People can come for one session or the whole weekend, but still enjoy the spirit – and welcome – for which Speyside is famous.”

Tickets for Spirit of Speyside – Distilled will go on sale within the next couple of weeks via the website The Festival is also active on social media – and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and on Instagram.

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