George McNeil appointed new chairman of Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
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THE Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has announced the appointment of a new chairman ahead of its in-person return in November.
George McNeil, managing director of Johnstons of Elgin's retail division, has been appointed chairman designate, and will take over the role from James Campbell on November 8, at the end of this year's festival.
Mr McNeil, originally from Huntly, said he is excited to give something back to the area, having moved to Moray to work more than a decade ago.
"I've lived in Speyside for 14 years and it has been very kind to me and my family," he said.
"I’m looking forward to giving something back to this amazing region by looking after this iconic festival.
"The Spirit of Speyside is onto a winning formula by bringing together a huge variety of whisky companies with local communities and nearly 140 business members in the region and I’m really looking forward to continuing that legacy.”
James Campbell has held the role of chairman for more than 10 years, transforming the festival – which was first launched in 1999 – into a six-day event with more than 50 of the region's distilleries taking part.
He said: "It’s been my pleasure to act as chairman of Spirit of Speyside for the last decade and give visitors from around the world a taste of Scotland in miniature.
"Over the years, we have seen the festival grow to become an important part of the region and to help support the local economy.
"Earlier this year we brought the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival online with 688 guests from 15 countries around the world logging in – but nothing beats being together to celebrate the world’s largest producing whisky region.
"I look forward to enjoying a dram with George at our first in-person event in two years in November when he officially becomes chairman.”
The festival will take place from November 2 until November 8, with the full programme of events to be listed on www.spiritofspeyside.com in late September.
Tickets will go on sale online next month.