What were you doing this evening at 1900? I’m sure for a few
whisky enthusiasts it was time to put their plans for the 2014 Speyside Whisky Festival into fruition and purchase tickets for the event in May.
I’ve sketched around attending for far too long now, for
some reason I just have visions of Feis Ile queues and scrums that for me, do
not translate into an enjoyable weekend. Last year was the closest I actually
came to attending with a detailed itinerary laid out, but this did not
materialise. I actually forget why now, but for 2014 the accommodation is
booked and vital dates set aside.
Transport does seem to be in demand for the Speyside
festival as numerous distilleries across the region does entail the reliance on
mobility. The easier you can get around then the more events it is likely you
can attend, during your limited timeframe. Alcohol is a major component of any
whisky festival after all! It makes perfect sense for the organisers to
offer a range of choices from bus, train or private car. In my case the
transport is known as my other half and while she enjoys nosing whisky, I only
know of 1 dram she has enjoyed so far.
The calendar offers a huge range of events across numerous
distilleries and venues for all wallets. The key component for me this year is
to visit distilleries that I cannot normally frequent throughout the year;
Speyside is only a couple of hours drive from where I live so I am in a good position
to pass on some famous names. I also like a balance between the events and
having free time to explore the region and enjoy the atmosphere. I’ve been
guilty of cramming too much into brief holidays and lived to regret that pace
when looking back.
Whisky consumption is also a factor as with all the tours
offering at least a dram if not more, it would be very easy to overdo it. With some
rather special tasting events offering numerous drams I’d hate to be in a
position not to appreciate what I was experiencing. If you’re on the 3rd
event of the day then this could be possible! Although upon reflection the
whisky enthusiast often has an SAS ability for endurance in such harsh environments.
Everything in moderation is a good motto which also applies
to the overall cost. There are some obvious highlights in the calendar. Visiting
Roseisle would be a great experience but at £60 a head? That put me off
somewhat compared to other distilleries that are not normally open to the
public asking for just £15 per person. I’m sure visiting Diageo’s Death Star
would be a real glimpse into the future today for whisky but in 2014, I’m sorry
I’ll pass. For the record the Roseisle visits sold out within a couple of hours.
The busiest days of the festival are likely to be the
Saturday and Sunday, so I’ll be arriving on Thursday and departing on Saturday.
Ok, some may see this as a travesty but I’m heading north away from Speyside to
my regular stomping ground of Balblair, Glenmorangie and Clynelish. There
are plenty of plans beyond the festival.
Even with the organisers offering a handy itinerary planner
on the newly launched and improved website, I’m still tinkering with just under
3 hours left before tickets go on sale, chopping and changing. For instance I’ve dropped the Glenlivet
completely, instead replacing it with the Macallan (before it is mothballed) as
my last event of the visit. Now I’ll drop by the Glenlivet centre as I arrive
on Speyside for the exclusive bottling before heading towards Aberlour.
The festival also offers hands on events such as creating
your own whisky glass and workshops from independent bottlers so filling time in-between
ticketed tours will be very easy. So what happened come 1900? Well, the usual
internet traffic jams and given that tickets for some events were barely into
double figures time was of the essence.
My plans for Friday were torpedoed viciously; I’ve rebuilt
the morning but still have the afternoon to fit something in. I’ll probably
take a look later on tonight. In this day and age prospective punters often get
very upset about missing out however I’m more philosophical about the whole
experience; at least I made it with 80% of my plans intact and for that I'm thankful.
So what can you expect to read about here at Whisky Rover during May? For
the festival hopefully expect something on my visits to Knockando, Cragganmore,
Glen Keith, Macallan and Tamdhu. Photographs might be another matter given the individual rules across each site; hopefully the festival will entail a good mood and the relaxation of the dreaded 'no camera' stance.
Quite a few of my choices are not normally open to the public and the remainder are special tours so it should be a wonderful few days. I’ll also be at Glenfiddich for their welcome
dinner so perhaps a few words about that experience and anywhere else we drop
into during the festival before heading north!
(pictures from the festival website)
Labels: Speyside, spirit of speyside whisky festival 2014, whisky