With a diverse range of unmissable whisky events, fantastic festivals, special tours and tastings, Whisky Month invites visitors and locals to sample Scotland’s national drink as well as explore both the traditional and contemporary blend of stories, circumstances, provenance and science behind the vast array of marvellous malts.
Taking place throughout Scotland from 1 - 31 May, the programme of 19 funded events will showcase the very best of Scotland’s food, drink, music and culture. It is expected that Whisky Month events will attract audiences in the region of 70,000.
Festivities include a programme of concerts combining the very best in jazz with the tastiest of whisky at Jazz and Dram, part of the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival (3 & 4 May), a brand new food court at the popular 2014 Gordon Castle Highland Games (18 May) and a pop-up ‘Culture and Cocktails’ event in Aberdeen (3 May) celebrating the best in African food, drink and entertainment.
One of the best-loved whisky festivals will become even bigger this year, combining music with malt to produce a mouth-watering cocktail of entertainment. Now in its 15th year, The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (1-5 May) will launch the Spirit of Speyside Sessions – a new world-class music event celebrating the area’s rich traditional music heritage. Launched as part of the Festival’s programme for the Year of Homecoming Scotland, it boasts an impressive line-up of first rate traditional music acts, comedians and ceilidhs.
Perthshire’s rich whisky heritage will be celebrated on 3 May at The Home of Whisky Festival with free dram tokens, in-depth tasting master classes and some of the most knowledgeable whisky experts on hand to inspire and inform. The brand new Highland Perthshire Whisky Festival taking place in Pitlochry (23 – 25 May) will also have a full programme of events including film screenings, exhibitions and a superb new production of the musical ‘Whisky Kisses.’
Feis Ile – Islay Festival of Malt and Music (24 May -1 June) will raise its very own glass to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The island-wide festival will encompass all eight of Islay’s famous distilleries with many more events popping up in venues across the island throughout the week in a perfect marriage of music and malts – a whisky lovers paradise.
Glasgow’s Homecoming Whisky Festival will take place at The Arches on 17 May. With over 40 stands, set within five atmospheric stone arches, the festival will give attendees the chance to sample some of Scotland’s best drams as well as whiskies from around the globe.
Spirit of Stirling 2014 (9 & 10 May) will represent all of Scotland’s whisky regions alongside a packed programme of master classes and tasting sessions, this sell-out success year on year has been enlarged especially for Whisky Month.
A ‘virtual tasting’ is just one of the events set to take place at Eden Brewery in St Andrews as part of ‘The Angels Craft’ celebrations for Whisky Month (1-10 May). The growing trend in brewing whisky-flavoured craft beer and the intricacies of brewing whisky beer will also be discussed with a number of leading experts.
World Whisky Day will invite everyone to try a dram on 17 May with supporters signing up to host their own events in Scotland and across the globe.
Drams & Delicacies
Food plays an important role in Whisky Month 2014 with a selection of exclusive tastings, dinners and multi-sensory journeys. The National Piping Centre in Glasgow has created a brand new event entitled ‘Whisky Pairing and Piping’ to celebrate Whisky Month. Running over four evenings (1/8/15/22 May), The Pipers’ Tryst Restaurant will highlight the deep seeded connection between Scottish traditional music and whisky.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh will open its doors to non-members and members alike with a month long programme (1-31 May) celebrating a kaleidoscope of food and drink experiences with some of Scotland’s finest producers. This year will see the world’s widest selection of single cask, rare whisky playfully linked with Scottish clans to tie in with the Year of Homecoming.
Create:Eat:Whisky will transform a former milk factory in Leith, Edinburgh (14-20 May) offering a multi-sensory whisky adventure. Focusing on four key flavours, guests will be treated to an immersive experience that will evoke the sights, sounds and scents encountered in the whisky making process from grain to glass.
Marrying Malts and Molecules in Glasgow (24 May) will also explore the multi-sensory approach. This event will demystify Scotch myths as well as explore Scottish food and whisky at a molecular level with some unique tasting experiences.
On the 17 and 18 May, the Loch Fyne Food Fair at Cairndow will explore the connections between whisky and food.
Blethers, Blends, Barrels and Box Offices
A brand-new production of Mull Theatre’s acclaimed version of Compton Mackenzie’s famous story will tour throughout May 2014 (7-31 May) across a number of locations including Inverness, Oban, Isle of Jura, Ullapool, Perthshire and Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William, one ofthe oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland.
Whisky Words and Wisdom (various dates in May) will see Scotland's most southerly distillery join forces with the owners of Wigtown's bookshops to celebrate the 'Spirit of the Lowlands' in a month long Whisky, Words and Wisdom Festival. To celebrate the Year of Homecoming, visitors and locals will get the chance to experience an eclectic mix of readings, talks, music and storytelling, combined with a celebration of local food and drink, focusing on whisky.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said, “Whisky is one of Scotland’s most iconic products, one which is enjoyed here at home and across the world in more than 170 countries – and our second Year of Homecoming is the ideal time to encourage more visitors, both international and domestic, to enjoy the very best Scotland has to offer.”
“Homecoming Whisky Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and shine a light on the quality, provenance, traditions and innovations that go into our national drink and I look forward to raising a glass to Scotland’s finest during May’s festivities.”
Caroline Packman, Director of Homecoming Scotland said, “Homecoming is a great opportunity to place the spotlight on our greatest assets, so it’s only fitting that whisky is at the heart of a fantastic month-long variety of events. Whisky Month in May is a perfect time for visitors to come to Scotland and for locals to experience the fantastic range of events right on their doorstep. Whether you prefer an Ardbeg to an Auchentoshen, a Glenlivet to a Glengoyne – Whisky Month 2014 has something for both the novice and the aficionado.”
In addition to the specific Whisky Month programme above, there are various additional events which have adopted whisky as a theme for their events throughout the Homecoming year including Distillery Days at Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience (1-31 May), Orkney Nature Festival will present ‘Whisky’s Wild Side’ (10-18 May), A Taste of Islay Jura and Mull (24-31 May), Scottish Malts Reliability (28 April - 2 May) and The Famous Feastival at The Famous Grouse Experience (25 May).
Scotland will welcome the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games.
The Year of Homecoming Scotland runs from Dec 31 2013 to Dec 31, 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country.