Tickets for the 2017 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will go on sale this week – and organisers expect a scramble for a handful of exclusive tickets that will allow visitors to enter the doors of distilleries which have never before opened to the public.
It is anticipated that tickets for tours of Speyburn, Knockdu and Balmenach distilleries – all taking part in the Festival for the very first time – will sell out within a matter of hours when the event website opens for business on February 7.
In previous years, whisky connoisseurs from the UK and overseas have jumped at the chance to step inside distilleries which are only open during the Festival and tick another visit off their ‘bucket list’.
Speyside is the most prolific whisky producing region in Scotland. With more than 50 distilleries to its name – including world leading brands like The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Cardhu, Glenfiddich and The Macallan – it is home to more than half of all Scotland’s distilleries.
Speyburn, Knockdu and Balmenach will be joined by a range of other venues which have previously featured in the Festival line-up but do not host visitors at any other time of the year.
Other distilleries which are only opening to the public during the Festival from April 26 to May 1 include Tamnavulin, Speyside, Dalmunach, Tormore, Glenallachie, Glen Keith and Longmorn. Boormalt Maltings at Buckie will also be inviting festival goers inside: it took part last year and its tours were among the first events to sell out.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival manager Pery Zakeri says she expects many hot tickets to disappear within hours of going on sale on Tuesday.
She adds, “If you are a real whisky enthusiast then you will understand and appreciate just how special it is to be able to access these distilleries, and it is why tickets for these events sell out so quickly.
“It is almost like belonging to a small and exclusive club because so few people can say that they have stepped across the threshold. For those who are truly passionate about Speyside whisky, being able to say they have visited somewhere only a handful of other people have been is like wearing a badge of honour.
“There are many distilleries in the region with facilities that allow visitors to turn up at any time and take a tour, but only during the Festival can people get inside virtually all our 50-plus local distilleries.
“Our ability to get venues that do not usually host visitors to run exclusive tours over the five days of the Festival is what makes the difference between our event and other festivals. We have been running for almost 20 years and connoisseurs – as well as those who are just getting a taste for Scotch whisky – know that this is where they need to come if they want an authentic whisky experience.”
Tickets will go on sale at 12 noon on Tuesday, February 7. The time has been selected so that people across different time zones have an equal chance to get their hands on the most popular tickets.
However, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival offers more than just distillery tours that will appeal to die-hard whisky fans. The programme has been designed to appeal for everyone from connoisseurs to those with a curious interest in Speyside whisky – and it’s possible to visit without touching a drop of the region’s most famous export.
During the five-day event, visitors will have the opportunity to go take part in whisky tastings and nosings, learn how to match the amber nectar with food, enjoy Scottish traditional and contemporary music, take tours of whisky country on foot, by road, by rail and even by canoe, and enjoy fun activities like glass blowing and whisky tumbler carving.
Festival chairman James Campbell says, “For years Speyside has been a bit of a hidden gem, but we now welcome visitors from all over the world and a huge number travel to the event from outside Scotland.
“We’ve previously welcomed visitors from Australia, North America, South America, Africa and Asia as well as Europe and we are standing by to see yet another increase in international guests when the tickets go on sale on Tuesday.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, says, “The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is a fantastic event, attracting people from all over the world. Whether you’re a connoisseur or just discovering the delights of Scotland’s national drink, the Festival offers everyone an exciting and innovative programme of events to enjoy.
“EventScotland is delighted to again be supporting the Festival, which is the perfect stage for celebrating whisky and the cultural heritage of Speyside.”
Based in the heart of Scotland’s malt whisky country, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place over five fun-filled days from April 27 to May 1, 2017. It comprises over 500 events, taking place from Kingussie in the south to Forres in the west and Buckie in the east.