With lots of long winter nights still ahead of us and Robbie Burns celebrations on the horizon (January 25), now’s the perfect time of year to crack open a bottle of whisky and enjoy a wee dram.
Real whisky enthusiasts might consider joining the growing number of whisky tourists making a pilgrimage to Scotland. Tickets go on sale this month for the 17th annual Speyside Whisky Festival (April 28–May 2), which has a programme of 400 events, from distillery tours to tutored tastings.
The festival hones in on a small but beautiful part of north east Scotland. It's a whisky region which is home to over 50 distilleries, including The Glenlivet—the best selling scotch in the world.
Image via: Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
One of the festival highlights is a trip to The Whisky Shop in Dufftown (which stocks over 650 bottles), where they run 'bacon butty pairings', which invite festival goers to taste four different whiskies and vote for the winner (last year's champion was Arran Lochranza, a non-Speyside imposter!)
The festival also sheds light on lots of other hidden gems, from the Victorian Gardens round the back of Glen Grant Distillery, to the Speyside Cooperage where you can see traditional cask-making in action.
Of course, it's the whisky which is the real highlight though—Speyside whiskies are known for being particularly light and fruity making them a good starter whisky, as well as a wonderful area for connoisseurs to explore.
Image via Taste Cairngorms
The two heavyweight distilleries in the region are Glenfiddich and Glenlivet who both host regular tastings.
If you fancy a warm-up, try The Glenlivet 15 Year Old, Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera, or Strathisla 12 Year Old which is a great-value dram to help get you in the mood. Happy tasting!