It’s a fact – whisky itself is cause for celebration the world over. No wonder there are so many fantastic whisky festivals to choose from, wherever you happen to live. But which whisky festival should you go to?
Lucky for you, the team behind Scotch whisky’s Edinburgh home (that’s us!) have done the hard work for you – these are the seven whisky festivals that should definitely be on your bucket list, and why.
(throughout the year – see website for details)
The world’s most high-profile whisky event, Whisky Live is accessible wherever you are, covering more than 20 different countries. With incredible programmes of speakers, special events and masterclasses led by industry experts, Whisky Live is the festival to go to if you want to nose and taste to your heart’s content in the company of fellow whisky enthusiasts.
Speyside has over 50 distilleries, more in one region than many countries have in total, so it’s no wonder this festival likes to celebrate whisky a little differently. There’s no one set venue, but instead a series of exclusive whisky tastings, tours and events, framed by an opening and closing dinner and ceilidh. Many distilleries that are not ordinarily open for tours will open their doors in honour of the festival, giving visitors the chance to explore some of their favourite drams in the distilleries in which they were created.
(London: September/October, Glasgow: February)
One of the slickest whisky tasting events out there, the Whisky Show is held annually – one in London, and one in Glasgow, with Glasgow focussing on particularly old or rare expressions. A great feature is their ‘Dream Drams’, a token for which is included in your ticket price – a chance to try a dram of a whisky that retails for upwards of £500. The sky is the limit, can you think of a whisky you’ve always wanted to try?
Very often the flavours in your favourite Scotch whisky owe much to those of its American cousin, Bourbon – largely due to the USA’s production laws that dictate a cask can only be used once to mature American whiskey. Love those vanilla, spice and nutty flavours so typical of bourbon-matured whiskies? You’ll love this whiskey festival, set in the bourbon heartland state of Kentucky. A seven day event jam-packed with masterclasses, whisky tastings, a gala dinner and even a barrel rolling contest (harder than it looks!), this is the festival to really get into the spirit of bourbon and understand why it’s loved the world over.
Back to Scotland with ‘The Whisky Isle’s’ famous festival of Music and Malt. ‘Feis Ile’ as it’s known (pronounced “fezzsh-eyel”) brings in whisky pilgrims from across the globe, with accommodation booking out many months in advance. And when it’s set on one of Scotland’s most beautiful and hospitable islands, who can blame them? A must for anyone who’s serious about seeking out those seriously special smoky whiskies, the Islay Festival is a chance to rub shoulders and try the drams of some of the world’s most famous distilleries, whilst soaking up a celebratory atmosphere of Gaelic culture and merriment.
(March, September and November)
A chance to experience whisky and whiskey from distillers based across the globe, Whiskies of the World is one of the USA’s key whisky festivals to visit, taking place across five different cities throughout the year. Each city hosts a varied portfolio of distilleries and whisky industry figures, plus seminars to unleash your inner whisky aficionado, and pairing sessions that covering everything from desserts to cigars. These events are high demand and super-sleek, concentrated into a single day, meaning you can hop across the state lines and attend as many as you want to over the year.
Scandinavia loves its whisky, so when a dedicated festival appears in Denmark’s capital, you answer the call. An afternoon and evening-only event, the festival is a rare and exciting chance to see the whisky makers (and brewers) of Denmark in their element, and try some of the drams and pints that haven’t made it across the pond just yet. There’s even a chance to purchase your favourites, post-taste.
Know your whisky? Why not join us for a more in-depth whisky tasting – try the Morning Masterclass or our day-long Whisky School here at the Scotch Whisky Experience to really get to grips with the world’s favourite spirit.
Images courtesy of:
Spirit of Speyside
The Whisky Show
Kentucky Bourbon Festival
Paula Arthur (Islay image)
Scotch Whisky Experience