Preview of Spirit of Speyside 2024

PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own. 

It’s always a pleasure to visit Speyside and this time I was heading up north for a preview of what’s to come during the Spirit of Speyside Festival 2024.

Read about my previous Spirit of Speyside adventures here!

Staying at The Craigellachie

One of the loveliest places to stay in Speyside is The Craigellachie Hotel, near the village of Craigellachie. Right off the main road you’ll find the yellow building which also houses a whisky bar (The Quiach Bar), and a restaurant. It always feels so inviting and friendly and sits in a great location for exploring the area and nearby distilleries. The hotel itself is also host venue to several events during the festival and well worth taking a look at.

I was lucky enough to stay in my favourite room, which is room 2, the corner room on the upper floor which has a gorgeous large bathroom with a comfortable bathtub and I always tend to sleep well here. Especially when keeping one of the windows open to let in the fresh Speyside air.

In the mornings you can enjoy a a la carte breakfast accompanied by a little buffet of cereals, pastries and fruit juices. I tend to go for the full Scottish breakfast with scrambled eggs, but the porridge is lovely as well – just be prepared for hefty portions!

Visiting Glenallachie Distillery

Our first stop after being properly fuelled by the breakfast at The Craigellachie, was Glenallachie Distillery which is located right outside of Aberlour. We enjoyed a tour of the distillery, a little look around the warehouses and a wee tasting of a couple different whiskies. We tried Glenallachie 15, Glenallachie 10 Spanish Oak and a 2010 single cask from a chinquapin barrel plus a bonus dram of Meikle Tor The Sherry One. The group was also delighted to meet and greet Billy Walker who was working away from the distillery the same day. Billy is known as quite the legend within the whisky industry and I’m sure many of you will have heard of him already – and for those keen to meet him in person the festival provides an excellent opportunity as several of the Glenallachie festival offerings includes tastings hosted by Billy himself.

Lunch at The Dowans

Before visiting distillery number 2 for the day we headed straight to The Dowans Hotel which is on the outskirts of Aberlour (and another great option for accommodation in the area) for lunch. I couldn’t resist my favourite cocktail at The Dowans – the banana mai tai – and opted for the orzo with chilli, charred leek and winter vegetables. This was so good – the leek was sweet and full of flavour and the freshness of the vegetables was a lovely contrast to the heat from the chilli.

The Dowans is another venue which will be hosting a variety of events in collaboration with other brands during the Spirit of Speyside Festival and will also end the week with a house party alongside the Our Whisky Foundation, which I’ve bought a ticket for – and I can’t wait!

The Dowans also has a sister venue just a short drive away Hotel 1881 which is becoming a foodie destination so any food interested whisky enthusiasts should definitely include a visit here on their trip to the festival.

Visiting The Glenlivet and seeing the newest still house

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting The Glenlivet before – my last visit was for the opening of the new visitor centre which you can read about here – but it’s always great to come back and experience their other offerings. For the Spirit of Speyside Festival the distillery is opening up their new still house for visitors, and as you can see in the photos below, it’s quite the space. The Glenlivet really is one of those distilleries where you can see the scale of one of the largest single malt distilleries in Scotland – the rows and rows of stills and giant mash tun is quite the contrast to the smaller distilleries in the area. Following our tour we also enjoyed a tasting in the beautiful little tasting space next to the bar. We tried the new Glenlivet 12 Year Old 200th anniversary edition – which I’ve written more about here – The 16 Year Old and a summery cocktail made with The Glenlivet 18 Year Old.

Visiting Glenfarclas and trying whisky from 1954 (that’s almost 70 year old whisky!)

Following our visit to The Glenlivet we drove back to Glenfarclas for the last distillery visit on this trip. I’ve only been to Glenfarclas once before and that time I did not yet know that I would end up in the hospital just hours later with surgery later that week as I had appendicitis. I have to say that this visit was much more pain free and delightful. I really enjoyed seeing the distillery again and we had a spectacular tasting both in the warehouse and also in the tasting room after the tour. If you are someone looking for old and wonderful whisky then the Spirit of Speyside Festival offerings from Glenfarclas may very well be for you as they have incredible stock. In one of the dunnage warehouses we first got to try a 1954 single malt and then also one from the 70’s. I will admit that it took me quite a while to realise that a whisky from 1957 is almost 70 years old – especially considering how casually they asked if we wanted to try it! This is the oldest whisky I have ever tried – and it was bursting with elegant flavour. From powdery florals to rich wood without any harsh edges – it was just so special to get to try it. And as if this wasn’t enough we also tried a line up of five whiskies ranging from 1955-1959. Such an interesting tasting as they all had their unique character. This certainly is a tasting I’d recommend to any whisky enthusiast, especially if they are keen on sherry casks.

Tasting menu at The Station Hotel

To end the trip we headed over to The Station Hotel in Rothes for a preview of their tasting menu. I associate The Station Hotel with good food ever since my trip with The Malt Whisky Trail where I had such an amazing dinner, and this visit did not disappoint either. Starting with amuse bouche, tasting our way through a halibut course, suck and ending with this chocolate tart and also petit fours we certainly were not hungry when we got up to leave. The wine selection did not disappoint either and we got a bottle of white and a bottle of red for the table so we could choose what to drink with each course. The Station Hotel will be serving their tasting menus and also afternoon tea throughout the Spirit of Speyside Festival so if you get hungry you know where to book. I’d love to come back and try the Afternoon Tea at some point as well as I’m sure that would be a flavourful experience too!

Have you been to the Spirit of Speyside Festival? What was your favourite event?

✦ Want to read more about whisky happenings?

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Check out my Instagram @swedishwhiskygirl or @scandinavianabroad to see even more photos and follow along on future adventures.

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Moa Nilsson

Adventurous Swede with a fondness for castles, snow and vintagesque experiences.

Scandinavian Abroad

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