Whisky festivals are the place to be if you’re a malt enthusiast. Immerse yourself in all things Whisky related, get freebies and meet new people; what’s not to love?
Spring and summer are the perfect time of year for such festivals. As the weather dries up (we can hope!) out come the drams, with producers lining up to showcase their best malts.
ScotlandOne of the newest festivals this year is the Highland Whisky Festival, taking place on May 10-17th across the Scottish Highlands. Several distilleries including newbies Wolfburn and big names like Glenmorangie and The Dalmore are taking part. This is a very regional festival, exploring all the best things that the Highlands have to offer. It’s a new festival as well, so we definitely recommend going along to learn everything you can about some of the great malt made in the region.
If you’re looking for something a bit more localised, there are plenty of festivals to choose from. Edinburgh (The Whisky Stramash,18th-19th May), the Hebrides (Hebridian Whisky Festival, 21st-25th May) and Glasgow (Glasgow Whisky Festival, 9th November) all have their own festivals that celebrate everything from craft producers to well known brands.
These are great events to attend to soak up the local produce and learn more about how craft distillers are making their malt. You can talk directly with makers and learn about the passion that goes into making great malt.
The bigger producers that attend are just as interesting. They are also incredibly knowledgeable about their drams and love sharing that with Whisky lovers.
There are other regional festivals, such as Spirit of Speyside (6th-7th September) and Feis Ile (24th May-1st June). Similar to the Highland Festival, these are great places to learn more about local Whiskies.
These are both very well known and well attended. Some of the biggest names in the industry will be attending these events. They are perfect for learning more about Whisky and how different regions produce different malts.
EuropeScotland isn’t the only place to have Whisky festivals. There are number across wider Europe as well.
In fact, there is even an Arctic Whisky Festival, held in Norway, which took place in January of this year. This isn’t the first time it’s occurred; it has been going for a number of years now. It features local producers as well as Whiskies from all around the world.
Taking place in Holland, Maltstock (6th-8th September) is the place to be if you’re a Whisky fan. Promoted as the “relaxed Whisky weekend”, everything is on site and it’s all-inclusive so you really don’t have to worry about anything except enjoying some new drams. This is the 11th year it’s run too, so they certainly know what they’re doing.
Global EventsThere are Whisky festivals taking place all over the world.
Whisky Live is a great site to keep an eye on. They run Whisky tastings all over the world and invite producers to attend and showcase their malts. It is the best way to explore what the world has to offer and you get to taste drams as well, so it’s a win-win really.
DramFest is another big name on the international Whisky stage, taking place in New Zealand. It isn’t until March 2020, but definitely worth keeping an eye in. Some of the best brands from around the world and New Zealand come together to celebrate all things Whisky. You can learn everything you ever wanted to know, and in New Zealand too!
Similar to DramFest is the Hong Kong Whisky Festival. With plenty of producers from all across the globe, you will certainly find something to enjoy. Although not in 2019, as it’s already happened, but this is a long running event so keep an eye out for next year.
AmericaAmerica has some pretty big festivals too, including the American Whiskey Convention, which, in true American fashion, also includes a pig roast. This is one of the best places to learn about American malts directly from producers.
The WhiskyX is a festival infused with music, style and chefs. There are 60+ Whiskies to taste at each of the events that you can pair with bites from the best local food trucks. Not to mention live music and special deals bundled with the tickets.
Another American festival is the Nth. Held in Las Vegas, and at a cool $3000 per ticket, it is very exclusive. It took place on April 27th this year, but if you’ve got $3000 lying around I’m sure you can wait for next year’s event. Or at least spend that time saving up for it.
While tickets for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival (16th-22nd September) have yet to be released, they are guaranteed to be cheaper than $3000. Regardless of your stance on Bourbon, this is one of the best festivals around. You will learn about everything there is to know about Bourbon, from how it is produced to what makes the flavour.
WhiskyFest by Whisky Advocate is another massive event that is well worth taking a trip for. It’s taking place in New York (3rd Dec.) and San Francisco (4th Oct.) later this year. It is one of the major events in America for Whisky, where you can meet people who love Whisky and just want to enjoy it. It is a great environment to pick up knowledge an learn about the Water of Life.
Which is your favourite Whisky festival? Share in the comments below.
Cover image: Glasgow's Whisky Festival