PHOTOGRAPHERS from around the world have put the focus on Speyside and its magical malts in an effort to capture an iconic image which truly sums up the spirit of Scotland’s best-loved whisky region.
Dozens of entries were submitted to the 2014 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Photography Competition, and judges have now whittled them into a shortlist of 17 finalists.
The shortlisted entries have gone on tour across Moray and beyond before the overall winners are announced during a ceremony at the Benromach Distillery, Forres – which sponsors the contest – in April.
Photographers were asked to submit entries in three different categories – Seasons, People, and Abstract Images. Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival chairman James Campbell said settling on a shortlist was a tough task for the judging panel.
"The quality of the entries was such that it was extremely difficult to decide which photographs should make the final," he said. "The entrants seem to have raised the bar even higher this year; I don’t think we saw one single image which could be described as anything other than superb.
"The exciting thing for me has been to see the range of different images and how the categories have been interpreted. Many of the photographs feature whisky, as you would expect, but others show a very different side to Speyside and its stunning landscape."
Michael Urquhart, managing director of Gordon & MacPhail, owners of Benromach, said: "The images in the 2014 contest represent a broad range of subjects, which are all very different but quintessentially Speyside in nature.
"Every year we look forward to seeing what photographs will be submitted, and we are never disappointed by what we see. There is something very special about this competition which produces an exceptionally high standard of work. Perhaps it’s because Speyside is such a magical place that truly inspires those who live in the area and visit it."
A touring exhibition of the finalists’ photographs got underway earlier this month at Johnstons of Elgin, moving on to Baxters of Fochabers next week. Benromach Distillery will stage the exhibition for one week starting from April 14, before the images become part of the Grain to Glass Exhibition at St Giles’ Church in Elgin.
The images will take pride of place at the Festival Hub in the Square at Dufftown for the duration of the festival from May 1-5. They will go on tour at libraries across Moray in May and June, the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh from July, and back to Benromach in September.
Although the judging panel will vote for their favourite, members of the public will also have the chance to influence one of the awards. The finalists’ photographs are currently on display online at www.spiritofpspeyside.com and visitors to the site are asked to vote for their contender for the People’s Choice. The winner of the competition will be announced later in the year.