Almost 2,500 visitors descended on Speyside for six days of festivities from 26 April to 1 May, with more than 7,000 tickets sold for festival events including distillery tours and tastings, train rides, hill trekking, cask building, and ceilidhs.
Of the famed whisky-making region's 51 distilleries, 27 opened their doors to offer rare experiences and exclusive bottlings to festival goers. As well as the distilleries themselves, Speyside's bars, restaurants, and hotels also got involved to host visitors and events.
This year's festival began with the 'Touch of Tartan' opening dinner at Dallas Dhu Distillery. The glittering event included the announcement of the festival's 2023 Whisky Awards, with accolades for Glenlivet 25 Years Old Single Cask, Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask, and Tamdhu's 12 and 18 Years Old single malts, among others. There were also awards for those people within Speyside whisky industry who have made significant contributions to it, including John Grant, chairman of J & G Grant, who receive the Spirit of Speyside Lifetime Achievement award, and Keith Brian, Craigellachie distillery manager, who was named the festival's Unsung Hero.
One of the most notable events on the 2023 festival calendar was the 'Behind the Scenes Tour and. Tasting' at Speyburn Distillery, which opened its doors to the public for the first time in celebration of its 125th anniversary.
George McNeil, Spirit of Speyside Festival chairman, said: “Kicking off the festival this year with a night celebrating the hard work that the whisky community does every day really is so fitting, when this festival wouldn’t be possible without them there to create the iconic tastes that bring guests to our region from around the world. The talented distillers, tour guides, ambassadors, business owners and hospitality providers – these are the people that truly encapsulate the Spirit of Speyside.
“This year’s festival has surpassed all expectations. We’re thrilled to be working with partners like EventScotland, The Macallan, and Cardhu among others on a calendar of truly special events that brought more visitors than ever to Speyside this year.”
Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: “Speyside is the perfect stage for a celebration of Scotland’s national drink, and visitors from near and far have had an excellent few days to look back on now as they enjoyed the whisky and everything else the region has to offer. Congratulations to the incredible teams that have seen their whiskies through to award-winning status, and the Spirit of Speyside team on the success of this year’s festival.”