Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

The town of Aberlour in Speyside

There is no homier place in all of Scotland than Speyside and Moray. My visits to this gorgeous, green region always seem to be sun-dappled, full of good cheer and just the right amount of liquid gold. There’s so much whisky here you’d think the wide, relaxed River Spey was made of the stuff, but it is the work of man’s modern alchemy and the primary way of life for the people who live here. This region is a mecca for whisky-lovers the world over, as the many whisky festivals attest, and it is no stranger to tourism – not by a long shot – but rarely have I felt such a right and harmonious energy. Whatever you are not – not a whisky drinker, not an outdoorsy person, not a walker – here you will become. Read more...

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The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

This is just a quick note to share a couple bits of news. First, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is going on right now! The festival runs for five incredible days and includes more than 350 events themed around whisky (of course), food, history, and the natural beauty of the Speyside region. My time at the festival last year was one of my favorite experiences in all my trips to Scotland. I highly recommend you click over to their Web site, have a look around, and start planning your trip to the festival in May 2014. Start with this brochure.

Or, check out my lengthy series of posts from last year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. I culled some notes from my tasting diary as the festival ended, but I recommend you start with my overview of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Read more...

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Mortlach Distillery, Dufftown, Scotland

People often ask me to name my favorite whisky. I think it’s a plea for help, to have an “expert” cut a swath through the jungle of single malt Scotch whisky bottles lining store shelves and say, “DRINK THIS,” like whisky Moses stumbling down the mountain (hmm, there’s a post in there somewhere).

I can’t do it. I can’t pick one ultimate favorite whisky. Instead, I provide handfuls of favorites or I go up a level and pick can’t-miss distilleries. Ardbeg, Balvenie, Highland Park (coming soon), to name a few. Oh, and this other one, Mortlach. Many people don’t know it. Read on for the remedy.

Mortlach is the oldest of Dufftown’s many distilleries and arguably the most desirable in Diageo’s portfolio. Read more...

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At Benromach Distillery for a Tasting of Their Award-Winning Whiskies

I hope that by this point my love and appreciation for Benromach’s whiskies is common knowledge. It’s a shame that I have such a hard time finding them here in Wisconsin, but perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder.

In this case, I think that old axiom is way off base.

Last year I had the opportunity to tour Benromach with Keith Cruickshank, the distillery manager, and experience a guided tasting of their stunning past and exciting future. Earlier this year I returned during the magnificent Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and took another spin through Gordon & Macphail’s pride and joy, which ended in a thorough tasting of Benromach’s award-winning whiskies. Read more...

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Breabach Live at Glenfiddich Distillery

One of my favorite moments from the entire Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival was soaking in the music of Breabach inside Glenfiddich distillery’s Warehouse No. 1. The festival showcases Scottish folk music during a handful of Celtic Spirit shows throughout the festival, and when I saw that Breabach, who I had seen tear up the Shetland Folk Festival last year, was headlining one of these shows, I knew serendipity had intervened.

And I don’t get in serendipity’s way. Read more...

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