Exploring Spirit of Speyside Festival’s online offering

Exploring Spirit of Speyside Festival’s online offering

In the face of Covid-19 Spirit of Speyside Festival has made the transition to the virtual space for 2021

News | 11 May 2021 | By Jason Thomson

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Since its inception in 1999, the Spirit of Speyside Festival has become one of the most beloved occasions in the whisky calendar. Unfortunately, 2021 has seen even the quiet corners of Speyside affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic and, for the first time, the festival has had to move online. Whilst the vast array of events have easily transitioned to their new virtual home – what does it mean for the now familiar annual bottlings that accompany the festival? With SPEY’s release from 2020 winning best ‘Scottish Single Cask Single Malt’ at last year’s World Whiskies Awards and Tamdhu’s Dalbeallie II picking up a gold award in the No Age Statement, Speyside category – these releases certainly have a pedigree to go along with their usually limited status. We’re glad to say that even with the events being held online, there are still some exceptional bottlings being made available to celebrate the festival.

Craigellachie’s bold and distinctive style flies in the face of the traditional Speyside norms. The Bacardi owned distillery has been carving out its own niche since being re-launched in 2014. Craigellachie’s signature style is known for its long fermentation times and (of course) its robustly sulphurous character. For the 2021 Spirit of Speyside festival, Craigellachie has bottled a 21-year-old ‘Double Cask’ expression for their Exceptional Cask Series, which is limited to only 376 bottles. The spirit was first matured in a refill hogshead cask and then was finished in a refill sherry butt for six years. The release has been hand filled and labelled by the visitor centre team at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery at a cask strength of 55.7% ABV. Stephanie Macleod, malt master for John Dewars and Sons described the profile of the dram as: “Syrupy pineapple and ripe banana balanced beautifully with subtle cinnamon and grated chocolate”. In keeping with the community ethos of the Spirit of Speyside Festival, a proportion of the proceeds will also go to charities in Craigellachie chosen by the local distillery team. It’s available to purchase from the Dewars’ webshop at a price of £350.
Craigellachie"s 21-year-old Double Cask Spirit of Speyside bottling

After last year’s success, SPEY whisky is also working on a new bottling to celebrate the occasion. Crafted near Kingussie, the Speyside distillery is very new compared to some of its Speyside brethren – only being built in 1962. Its light and fresh style has won it fans all over the world, and the SPEY brand in particular is popular in Taiwan. Their 2021 release won’t be available until June and will be limited to only 300 bottles. The unpeated 8-year-old malt has been matured in an ex-Bourbon cask and bottled at a hefty cask strength of 60% ABV. The new release will be priced at £98 and bottles can be reserved via SPEY whisky’s store in Aviemore, The Snug. Some stock will also be made available through selected UK retailers.
SPEY's Spirit of Speyside Festival whisky selection

Tamdhu has released not one but two new releases to celebrate the virtual Spirit of Speyside Festival. Although most of its history has been to provide vital spirit for some of the world’s most popular blends, Tamdhu’s profile as a single malt of note has been on the rise since being acquired by Ian Macleod in 2011. Notably, its past three releases of the Dalbeallie have been met with huge praise amongst the whisky community. This year’s Dalbeallie IV, named for the train station that the distillery originally used to bring in barely and sherry casks for maturation, has once again been bottled at natural cask strength (61% ABV), non-chill filtered and with no added colouring. It has been exclusively matured in Oloroso sherry casks, creating a profile of tropical fruit and toasted oak. There are only 1,000 bottles of the Dalbeallie Dram IV available to purchase and they will be an online distillery exclusive from the Tamdhu online shop priced at £95.00. At the time of writing the initial allocation has sold out, but further limited stock will be made available at some time in the near future.
Tamdhu"s Dalbeallie IV

Their second release is a 2003 vintage single cask. Bottled at a natural cask strength of 59.3% ABV, this cask was selected from a choice of six by not only Tamdhu distillery manager Sandy Mcintyre, but also a panel of hand-picked of Tamdhu Club members. Sandy said of the experience, “The Tamdhu Club Single Cask selection process was an exciting project to be a part of. Some of the brand’s biggest fans came together around a virtual table to discuss which whisky was worthy of becoming our next exclusive Single Cask. The result is a rich, fruity and creamy dram that’s sure to be an instant classic.” The 582 bottles are priced at £279 each and are also available from the Tamdhu online shop.
Tamdhu"s Club Single Cask

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