May is officially #whiskymonth here in Scotland. If you are keen on the `water of life` and pay the Highlands and Islands a visit during that dram-tastic time, don't miss these events!
Whisky is for certain one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities and we thoroughly enjoy a dram* or two here at Airts & Pairts HQ, especially during those long, cold winter nights. Towards the end of January, our days have not only become longer again, they are being brightened up further by looking at all those great events planned during Whisky Month, a whole entire month dedicated to our iconic national drink.
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whisky is barely enough.”
We think Mark Twain made a fair point there. So, pour yourself a wee dram and see where your curiosity could take you this May. You might even find a new favourite!
1st - 6th May 2019
Over half of Scotland’s distilleries are located in Speyside and the well-established festival is a real Mecca for whisky lovers. During the festival, over 500 events will take place throughout Speyside, including rare opportunities to visit distilleries that are usually not open to the public, tutored tastings with whisky industry icons or the search for the best malt for a haggis. This year marks the 20th edition of the festival and there is a good chance that its makers will come up with some particularly exciting stuff when the programme of #dram19 is revealed at the end of January. Needless to say that some of the events sell out very fast, so keep an eye on their webpage!
10th - 17th May 2019
The first ever Highland Whisky Festival will celebrate the Highland Whisky Trail with eight outstanding distilleries along the breathtaking North Coast 500 route: "Balblair, Clynelish, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, The Dalmore, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Tomatin and Wolfburn will each host visitors from around the world, showcasing their centuries of tradition, process and craft through exclusive tastings, tours and events. It’s an unmissable experience for even the most seasoned of whisky enthusiasts."
18th May 2019
The good news first: You don’t need to travel to Scotland to celebrate World Whisky Day! This annual event is celebrated all over the world. At heart, World Whisky Day is all about getting together with friends and family and appreciating one of life’s great pleasures, Scotland’s gift to the world, the water of life. It is all about making whisky fun and enjoyable. Just get a couple of friends together and enjoy the night or become an official World Whisky Day Event Champion by registering your public celebration on their webpage and by spreading the word on social media #WorldWhiskyDay.
24th May – 1st June 2019
Isle of Islay
The Isle of Islay is known as ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’ and there is absolutely no doubt that Islay is the reigning monarch of a typically smoky, peaty style of single malts: Bold, powerful and not necessarily a dram you’d have for breakfast. Since over 30 years, Islay celebrates its songs, poetry, history, piping, Gaelic song and language, and the local food and whisky for a whole week during the legendary Fèis Ìle. Over the years, Islay’s distilleries have become more and more involved in the event and many of them are now marking the occasion with a special Fèis Ìle bottling. The celebration of Islay culture has become extremely popular and the population of Islay triples during the week of the festival! So you’re never wrong to start planning early.
That’s our incomplete list for #whiskymonth. If you can’t make it in May or are still longing for more, we can warmly recommend these events:
6th - 7th September 2019
Elgin Town Hall
Now in its fourth year and brought to us by the folk behind the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, #distilled19 at Elgin Town Hall has become a very popular event. One region, under one roof: Speyside’s whisky distillers, brewers, gin crafters and food producers are showcasing their award-winning products. Masterclasses, held by industry experts and master distillers, can be booked in addition. The £20 ticket for the four hour session comes with a Glencairn glass, a branded lanyard and tokens for six tasting samples of gin, whisky or beer. Four hours, six tokens – you can do the maths yourself, but unless you are as lucky as me who ended up with the double amount of tokens in my welcome pack, bring some cash along…
25th - 28th October 2019
The picturesque wee town of Dornoch is best known for its world-class golf course, the 13th century cathedral and the award-winning beach. The town also hosts the most northerly whisky festival on mainland Scotland and is home to a crowdfunded micro distillery. The guys behind the distillery also run the highly regarded whisky bar at Dornoch Castle Hotel and just a few steps down the road from the hotel; you will find the fantastic Carnegie Whisky Cellars. Basically, already enough reasons to visit Dornoch! For the whisky festival, the local businesses and the community come together to create a great event that includes a traditional ceilidh*, whisky and cheese or chocolate pairings, cookery demonstrations and of course: the Grand Tasting on Saturday. Many come for the great whisky, but leave Dornoch with a sense of belonging, new friendships and wonderful memories.
19th October 2019
Do you need a bit of exercise after all this? The Dramathon was dreamed up, naturally over a dram or two, by running and single malt enthusiasts Jon and Ian. The marathon race along the Speyside way takes in several distilleries along the route. It’s all supposed to be fun and you can either go for the full marathon, a half marathon, a 10k or you could team up with three of your pals for the relay race. The longer you’ve run the more whisky you will get at the finish line and there will also be a few surprises along the way.
Don’t Drink and Drive!
Most of the distilleries are offering drivers packs now, so you are not missing out on your drams. We just think that enjoying a dram in good company at the place where it’s made is still way more fun!
You drink, we drive is the answer. We will pick you up at your accommodation and will make sure you find your way around the festival and/or distilleries. We will help you to make the most out of your visit by designing a bespoke adventure that will include all your chosen stops, authentic local food and a fair amount of facts, stories and myths about the water of life. Just drop us a line if you want to know more!
*Dram (dræm) : Scottish word for a measure of whisky, unofficially measured as `the amount you could swallow in one mouthful` or as others put it: A measure of Scotch determined only by the generosity of the pourer.
*Ceilidh: (ˈkeɪli) : Gaelic for ‘gathering’ or ‘party’, usually involving traditional music, singing and dancing, sometimes storytelling but almost always a couple of drams.
*Slàinte mhath (ˌslɑːndʒə ˈva) : Cheers, Gaelic for `good health`