Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

The Spirit of Speyside is one of the largest Whisky Festivals of its kind in the world with around 500-whisky inspired events taking place over just a few days! We spent some time in the beautiful highlands earlier this month and attended some of the fantastic events!

Dram of Scottish Whisky

Spirit of Speyside 2018

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival was founded in 1999. To begin with it started as a small village Fayre to celebrate the many distilleries in the Speyside region and their great produce.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Logo

Taking place each year in May, the festival has grown and spread across the region. World famous distilleries open their doors to allow visitors from all corners of the globe to explore the distilleries, meet the master distillers, still men and brewers as well as tasting the fantastic produce.

As a result The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has now become a 5- day festival. In addition to the distilleries there are around 500 events across a multitude of villages and venues. From activities such as golf, whisky walks and cycle rides to tastings, BBQ’s, live music and good old Scottish Ceilidh’s. There is something for everyone!!


Events of 2018

This year we attended a few tours and events across the first weekend in May.

Glenburgie Distillery

Glenburgie Distillery was the first stop of the weekend. Glenburgie’s doors are closed to the public throughout the year apart from during the festival. Therefore it was great to see a fully functioning distillery without the buildings and grounds being influenced to support visitors. Glenburgie’s spirit is mostly used for the famous blended Whisky ‘Ballantines’. At the end of the tour you were given your very own dram of Glenburgie. For those who haven’t tried Glenburgie it comes highly recommend from us, such an easy whisky to drink.

Glenburgie Distillery, Speyside

Glenfarclas Distillery

Moving on from Glenburgie we headed for Glenfarclas Distillery. En route we stopped in to The Macallan Distillery to have a quick wander and catch a glimpse of the new Visitor centre that opens next month…..WOW!!! All we can say is that it is something mighty special and a must visit whenever in the region! After a spot of lunch at Glen Moray we reached Glenfarclas to enjoy a tour at one most famous distilleries in the world, which is still family owned. The new visitor centre opened there only a couple of years ago. It has been refurbished with the decor from the interior from a cruise boat. Very unique and a wonderful experience during the whisky festival.

Glenfarclas Distillery

Dufftown Village Hall, Speyside Festival

The following day at the whisky festival we travelled to Dufftown Village hall where many distilleries and private bottlers exhibited their own stalls. Therefore we were able to wander around and sample their produce. There were a huge number of whiskies available to try and buy but also many craft beers and gin. We do recommend having a healthy breakfast before you go though as your glass is never empty 🙂

Glen Moray Distillery

To cap of the evening, we attended a BBQ at The Glen Moray Distillery. The Distillery clears out one of its warehouses and decks it out with a stage, dancefloor and tables with chairs for the evening. With some fantastic BBQ cooked foods sourced from local produce on offer; as well as some great beers and Glen Moray Whiskies, it is great value for anyone attending. After dinner, there was a live band, traditional Scottish Ceilidh and games which lasted into the wee small hours……a fantastic finish to our time at the Speyside Whisky Festival!


Must see in 2019 Speyside Whisky Festival

If you plan on visiting the festival in 2019, here are a few must-see recommendations from us:

The Glen Moray BBQ most definitely has to be on your list. It has everything you could want from a night out; with the live bands, dancing, fantastic food and a truly wonderful setting.

The Macallan Distillery is a must see and please take a tour whilst you are there. The sheer scale of the place and the design will have you in awe and that’s before you even start to explore inside.

Spey Whisky and Golf!! For all golf and whisky lovers, what more could you ask for. This event takes place over the picturesque Boat of Garten Golf Club, where you will play in competition for a number of prizes. Followed by some food and a Spey Whisky tasting after your round.

Boat of Garten Golf Club

If you are interested in any of the 2019 events for the Spirit of Speyside Festival then please contact us. Alternatively you can visit The Spirit of Whisky Festival website.

Sláinte!!

An Islay adventure…..

A couple of weeks ago, Peter Mitchell, Managing Director of ‘Fairways Scotland’ decided to take a venture to a rather beautiful yet mysterious Island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, Islay… A whirlwind trip from Scotland’s capital city to the Isle of Islay, enjoying beautiful scenery, golf and the occasional whisky on route.

View of the Ardberg Whisky Distillery

Islay had always been an Island in Scotland we had wanted to visit and it was definitely worth the wait! Stunning scenery, impressive golf and some of the world’s most famous whisky distilleries; ticked all the boxes for a memorable visit.


Travelling to Islay

As we had limited time we opted for the 1st early morning (7:30am) ferry from Kennacraig to Port Ellen. This did mean a 3am departure from Edinburgh to get there in time but it was worth it. The sun was shining, the sailing was smooth and after 2 hours you could see the huge white distilleries along the rugged coastline of Islay. There are many fantastic cycle paths around the island and the roads are not too challenging. However, if you plan on enjoying some of the local whisky during your visit to Islay, due to Scotland’s drink drive laws we suggest hiring a driver guide. Alternatively you can book taxi transfers, which are reasonably priced.


Whisky in Islay

Within a few miles of Port Ellen, you reach Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin; some of the most famous distilleries in the world. Together they produce millions of litres of spirit each year and are all within a stone’s throw from each other. After spending a few hours visiting the distilleries we headed to the nearest town of Bowmore, which has its own rather large and famous distillery of its own. The whisky and the food was sublime. We had then arranged to return to Lagavulin after lunch and enjoy a Warehouse Demonstration. The tasting takes place in one of the distilleries dunnage warehouses. Here you are presented with a variety of aged whisky ranging from 8 years old up to a 52-year-old whisky, which is rumoured to be worth around £50k a bottle!

The tasting was an education and perfectly conducted by the lagavulin legendary warehouseman, Iain McArthur who has been in the industry for over 50 years. Certainly a must for any visit to Islay and what an experience for just £25 🙂


Golf in Islay

Although Islay is famous for its whisky production, the standard of golf doesn’t let it down either. The recently re-designed Machrie Links is a championship links par 71. Set in the idyllic and picturesque peatland the course overlooks Laggan Bay.

The course has recently been re-designed by former European Tour player DJ Russel. As a result he has improved the course with well laid out holes and strategic bunkering; providing a challenge for all levels of golfer. Some people preferred the old quirky, narrow, tricky layout. However these changes are a huge improvement and we definitely recommend a round on a visit to Islay. The clubhouse and hotel on site has also received a huge boost with investment and development and will boast a 48-room complex ideal for any whisky loving golfer.

Machrie Golf Links, Islay

Summary

Sometimes we do not know how lucky we are to live in Scotland and how very little we experience things which are right on our doorstep. Islay was very much that for me. Although it’s a long drive to the ferry from the east coast, its most definitely worth it. Islay would be a great place to visit for returning golfers or whisky enthusiasts to Scotland. My recommendation would be to stay at least 2 nights to take your time and play at Machrie Links. Then hire a driver guide to sightsee and visit the distilleries. You can also take a short ferry over to Jura too if time allows. One thing that became apparent is that the Islay way of life appears to be very relaxed and that’s most definitely the way all visitors should enjoy their trip…

Laphroaig Distillery

Do you wish to visit Islay Scotland? please contact us today to discuss the tour options available to you.

Working with Visit Scotland

Fairways Scotland is happy to announce that we are working with VisitScotland to help promote golf tourism in Scotland in 2017 and beyond

Working with Visit Scotand Logo

Welcome To Scotland

VisitScotland is the official home of Scotland’s national tourist board. Their website is a must use online resource for anyone thinking about planning a trip to Scotland.

Some VisitScotland Highlights

VisitScotland provides fantastic information on all aspects of visiting Scotland; from sampling the cultural highs of Edinburgh to off-the-beaten-track mountain treks. However here at Fairways Scotland we have a particular interest in a certain pastime involving a small white ball and 18 challenging holes! Thankfully with Scotland being the Home of Golf, there is no shortage of great information about golf on the VisitScoltand website.
Here are a few highlights which we think any keen golfer will find of interest!

The Best Golf Holes in Scotland

What’s the single best golf hole in Scotland? A nearly impossible question to answer, and probably a matter of personal taste. But we think this list compiled by VisitScotland comes pretty close: https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/golf/best-golf-holes/

Postage Stamp, Royal Troon Golf Club
Postage Stamp, Royal Troon Golf Club

Golf’s Tea Time Treats

Here at Fairways we know that there’s nothing better after a day on the golf course than some delicious food. Luckily Scotland boasts some of the finest cuisine in the world; from fresh seafood straight off the boat, to our world famous Aberdeen Angus beef. Delicious, seasonal, locally-sourced food is never far away from your plate (and your stomach!):
https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/food-drink/golf-food/

Calders Terrace, Carnoustie Golf Hotel
Calders Terrace, Carnoustie Golf Hotel

Official Golf Tours

Now we might be a little bit biased here, but we truly believe that the best way to discover all that this wonderful country has to offer is to book your trip through a local, dedicated and exclusive tour operator. Someone like Fairways Scotland (well we did warn you were a bit biased). We are proud to be an officially listed tour operator through VisitScotland.

Planning Your Trip to Scotland

Want to find out more about how planning a golf trip to Scotland? Get in touch with our dedicated team and find out how Fairways Scotland can help you have the trip of a lifetime to Scotland.