Whisky festivals are pretty common events nowadays with almost every town hall being penetrated by the desire to celebrate a dram and the magic of distillation. Actual whisky festivals and by this I mean those that take place in and around the distilleries themselves are few and far between. These represent what I tend to think a whisky festival actually should be; a celebration rather than the opportunity to sell a couple of bottles.
The Feis Ile and its annual shenanigans on Islay are well established and the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival continues to grow in diversity and popularity with each subsequent year. Least I forget Campbeltown and its celebrations. However there’s a new young pretender on the true Whisky Festival scene and its Dornoch.
Having enjoyed the 2015 festivities, this year’s calendar builds upon the initial foundations and looks a more complete and confident package. Whilst I’ll be writing about my experiences post-festival, I felt it worthwhile to pick out a couple of interesting events just in case you’re free anytime during the 28th to 30th October.
All the links are in red and will take you to the specific official pages.
Since the 2015 festival, the Carnegie Whisky Cellars has arrived on the scene offering whiskies from across the spectrum. There’s also a very lavish tasting room around the back which used to be the court record vault and is over 200 years old. For their first festival event, the team are offering a tasting of 6 regional distilleries and I’ve been informed this will include a special Wolfburn bottling. A marvellous way to kick off your Saturday festival experience even with me in attendance.
Literally almost next door to the Whisky Cellars is the Dornoch Castle Hotel which features one of the great whisky bars and during the festival will play host to several events including a BBQ and live traditional music.
Also available as a separate option is the chance to visit the rarely discussed Teaninich distillery which was established in 1817 near Alness and is rarely seen as a single malt. When I have experienced a Teaninich its often been an impressive journey. The distillery is not open to the public so this event was high on my list as another distillery I’ve yet to visit. Sadly it clashes with the next event that I just couldn’t pass up – maybe next year?