Speyburn Distillery opens for first time in 125 years for whisky festival

Visitors have flocked to the distillery from the US, Australia and Singapore for the annual whisky festival.

It’s just grain, water and yeast…but the ‘water of life’ continues to attract aficionados from across the world to the Spirit of Speyside Festival.

The historic Speyburn Distillery in Moray is opening to the public for the first time in 125 years to celebrate the history of Scottish whisky.

Now in its 22nd year, a record number of tickets have been sold for the event.

Carla Kasper from Brazil told STV News: “Something that takes anything from between ten years to 50 years old to mature for me captures a lot of history and a lot of magic.”

Judy Miller has travelled three times to the festival from Florida.

She said: “The people are friendly, the Scotch is delicious and it’s a lot of fun.”

The sector is steeped in history but there’s always something new to discover.

Festival director Sarah Burgess said: “We’ve got guests from as far away as Australia and Singapore, historically we have had New Zealand, Canada, every corner of the globe is attracted to the Festival.”

Tamdhu Distillery’s manager Sandy McIntyre was awarded Ambassador of the Festival 2023 at the opening gala dinner, a prestigious honour bestowed on those who represent the best qualities of the industry.

He said he was shocked and delighted to win. 

“It was a complete surprise to be given the Award, especially in your own geographical area,” he said. “Some colleagues knew but I didn’t so it was really emotional for me.”

Those at the heart of the sector say there may be thousands of whiskies on the market, but its enduring appeal boils down to one thing – sharing a dram with friends.

Sisters Lauren and Steph Murray, who own The Dowans Hotel in Aberlour, were last year’s winners of the Ambassador Award.

Steph said: “The festival is all about meeting new people who have the same passion but come at it from a completely different angle.”

Lauren added: “We have had people who have met at these events, strike up a friendship and come back again the next year – but together.”

The festival continues until May 1.

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