Published: 03/05/2013 12:45 - Updated: 03/05/2013 12:53

Whisky festival in full swing

Written byby Mike Collins

THE 2013 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is in full swing after a rousing opening dinner at The Glenlivet Distillery.

Industry leaders, distillery and community representatives, and whisky enthusiasts from home and abroad gathered to toast the launch of a five-day programme comprising 370 events.

Festival chairman James Campbell paid a special tribute to those who had travelled hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of miles to attend.

“We have representatives from 24 countries visiting our festival and I am sure we will all do everything we can to ensure that they are made welcome and have a truly memorable experience with us here on Speyside,” he said.

Christian Porta, until recently chairman and chief executive of Chivas Brothers – owners of The Glenlivet – and now Europe head at parent company Pernod Ricard, toasted the festival’s success from a giant quaich.

Three stalwarts who have made an outstanding contribution to the festival and the wider whisky industry were hyanded special honours.

Michael Lord has transformed The Whisky Shop in Dufftown into a world renowned business and is a regular judge at whisky competitions.

Keith Savage, a freelance travel writer and creator of Traveling Savage - a website dedicated to exploring Scotland – became an International Ambassador. Living in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, he raves about meeting some of the Speyside region’s leading experts.

London-based Canadian ex-pat Alwynne Gwilt in 2011 created the website Miss Whisky out of a desire to widen her knowledge of whisky and to help increase the number of females writing about the spirit.

Festival manager Mary Hemsworth said: “All ambassadors share a love of whisky, its culture and its heritage. In their individual style they each bring Scotland’s finest spirit to a new, global audience, and we’re delighted to be able to highlight and reward their work for both the industry and the festival.”

The Spirit of Speyside Festival runs until Monday, May 6. Visitors will be able to discover the delights of the dram with tours and tastings at many of the area’s distilleries, explore the great outdoors against the beautiful backdrop of Speyside’s spectacular scenery and uncover the spirited history of the region that was home to some of the first smugglers’ stills.

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