Three or four years ago, VisitScotland started branding the month of May as Whisky Month, when visitors to Scotland could experience the best – and most unusual – aspects of the country’s national drink. Although the body’s interested in Whisky Month has gradually weaned to the point of non-existence, I still think it’s a great way to market whisky to an international audience and there are still plenty of events taking place across the country throughout the month, some of which you can find below:
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – 28 April to 2 May
Located right in the heart of whisky country, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is probably the country’s biggest whisky event. Distilleries right across the region thrown open their doors and play host to hundreds of events, from tours and tastings, to musical performances and ceilidh dancing. And if you can’t make this year’s festival, then its now hosting a spin-off event in September.
North Hop Aberdeen – 30 April and 1 May
North Hop is one of the country’s newest boozy festivals, and although whisky isn’t really its main focus, it’s still worth swinging by if you find yourself in Aberdeen this weekend. Showcasing the best beer, cider, gin, cocktails and food that Scotland has to offer, you can find my thoughts on (cracking) the Edinburgh event here.
Whisky Mash – 1 May
The perfect (or potentially most dangerous) companion to North Hop is Whisky Mash, which popped up for the first time last year, bringing a whisky festival to the Granite City for the first time. After taking place across two bars last year, the event moves to one of the city’s hotels this year but is still promising a great mix of whisky producers. I made it along to last year’s festival and you can find my write-up here.
Spirit of Stirling Whisky Festival – 7 May
One of the only festivals on the list that I’ve not been to the Spirit of Stirling Whisky Festival is returning for its fifth year in 2016. It’ll also be returning to the city’s Albert Hall, where it all began in 2012.
Islay Festival of Music & Malt – 20 May to 28 May
The granddaddy of them all, the Fèis Ìle is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. Over eight days, each of the island’s eight distilleries will hold its own open day, which features special tours and tastings, alongside live music and food. Each will also have its own festival bottlings on sale, which are only available at the distilleries themselves. After many years of trying, I finally attended the festival last year and you can read about it here.
World Whisky Day – 21 May
2016 marks the fifth World Whisky Day, where people across the globe are invited to raise a dram in celebration of the Water of Life. You can even create your own event – all you need is a bottle of whisky and some friends to share it with.
Whisky Stramash – 28 & 29 May
And the month is rounded off with the industry’s cheeky younger sibling – Whisky Stramash. Taking place at Edinburgh’s Surgeon’s Hall, the two day festival mixes whisky with a good dose of mystery and entertainment. Details tend to remain under wraps until closer to the time, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information.