Whisky makes month of May

Scotch to take centre stage in events across Scotland

• The Edinburgh Whisky Stramash will return to the Surgeon’s Hall (above), exhibiting Scotch whisky brands in an “unconventional” fashion.

A SERIES of whisky events around Scotland is expected to attract audiences in the region of 70,000 this month as VisitScotland launches the first ever national Whisky Month.

Organised as part of Homecoming Scotland, a programme of 19 funded events will aim to showcase Scottish whisky, food, music and culture throughout May.
Whisky Month kicks off today (May 1) with the Spirit of Speyside Festival, which runs until May 5 and will also act as a launchpad for the Spirit of Speyside Sessions festival celebrating the area’s musical heritage.
Meanwhile, the whisky of Perthshire will be celebrated on May 3 at The Home of Whisky Festival, which will feature “in-depth tasting masterclasses” as well as offering guests a dram.
All of Scotland’s whisky regions will be represented at the Spirit of Stirling 2014 event (May 9-10) in a programme of masterclasses and tasting sessions.
And in Edinburgh, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society will open its doors to non-members throughout May for ‘Clans & Drams’, described as a “month-long celebration of flavour”.
The society has created 12 ‘whisky clans’ based on flavour profiles and inspired by clan mottos.
Mark van der Vijver, UK sales manager for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, said the event “will encourage everyone to focus on the flavours within each whisky so they don’t miss out on discovering something they may not usually try”.
“Clans & Drams embodies this concept by taking a playful approach to traditional clans and creating our own flavour-based whisky clans,” he said.
Nearer the castle, The Scotch Whisky Experience will host the International Spirits Challenge from May 11-15, welcoming ten whisky blenders as well as industry experts from countries including Sweden, the USA and Japan.
This year’s challenge is expected to see 400 malts from across the globe scrutinised by a panel of experts.
Susan Morrison, director and general manager of The Scotch Whisky Experience, said she felt privileged to host the International Spirits Challenge.
“This will be the third year we have hosted the whisky element of the challenge and there is always a real buzz about the building when it is taking place,” said Morrison.
The action transfers to the west coast on May 17, when Glasgow’s Homecoming Whisky Festival takes place in The Arches. And the connection between food and whisky will be explored at the Loch Fyne Food Fair at Cairndow on May 17 and 18.
Back in Scotland’s capital, the Whisky Stramash is expected to welcome more than 2000 visitors to the city’s Surgeon’s Hall.
Now in its third year, the event takes place on May 24 and 25.
The Stramash will host a collection of Scotch whisky brands, exhibited in “unconventional” ways.
Scott Martin, founding partner of Whisky Stramash, said the event was created to be engaging and “help recruit new drinkers to the category”.
“We are working closely with the brands to ensure this year’s event will be our best yet, with plenty of imagination, ridiculous secrecy, and our signature modern take on good old fashioned fun, bringing whisky into the modern-day world,” said Martin.
Whisky Month will come to an end with the 30th anniversary of Feis Isle – the Islay festival of ‘malt and music’.
Encompassing activity in each of the island’s distilleries, the festival takes place between May 24 and June 1.
Caroline Packman, director of Homecoming Scotland, said Whisky Month is the “perfect time for visitors to come to Scotland and for locals to experience the fantastic range of events right on their doorstep”.