Record breaking year for Spirit of Speyside

SOSWF Opening Dinner-12

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has recorded record sales in their 25th anniversary year, up over 20% on last year.

This year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has been celebrating 25 years of existence with 51 distilleries in the area.   The Festival promoted the largest number of events this year, with just over 700. Plus, 5 distilleries celebrated their 200th anniversary.

More than 7,500 tickets have been bought for an array of events including distillery tours, whisky train rides, cask building and ceilidhs.

SOSWF Opening Dinner-12

The reach of the festival has been far and wide, attracting people from 39 different countries with major sales coming from Germany, the US, Netherlands and Canada, providing a huge boost to the local economy.

Billed as one of the largest events of its kind anywhere in the world, organisers said the festival relies on the blend of talent in the Speyside community to create a programme of unique experiences for visitors that are not just whisky aficionados.

Chairman George McNeil said, “This has been a truly momentous year for the Festival in all manner of ways. Not just celebrating the 25th anniversary but also the increase in visitors and ticket sales. There is a real buzz of excitement this year, unlike anything we have experienced before. Partners like Event Scotland, and some of the big distilleries have been with us since the start, and that helped us put the Festival on a global stage. It’s always been about showcasing Speyside, but we’ve achieved that and much more in 2024 and we now look forward to all the hard work paying off for every business that’s taken part, with a brilliant week of events.”

The festival kicked off in style on Wednesday with 86 events taking place concluding in the evening with the renowned ‘Touch of Tartan’ Opening Event which this year, was held at Macallan. 400 guests gathered for an evening of celebration, where the winners of the annual whisky awards were also announced.

Some fantastic prizes were up for grabs in the evening’s raffle and raised an incredible £6,933 for Mikeysline, a north-based Scottish charity that supports people with emotional distress and mental health. They have announced plans to launch a new centre in Elgin. As a special gesture and as part of the distillery’s 200th anniversary, The Macallan agreed to triple match the total raised on the night.

As McNeil steps down as Chair later this year after a 3-year tenure, Vice-Chair Sarah Burgess will be waiting in the wings to take over the mantel and will continue to build on what has been achieved in the last 25 years.

Whiskies that won awards at the 2024 Spirit of Speyside Festival

Speyside’s finest malts were decided by vote from judges locally and worldwide and the process was started as far back as last year’s festival.

Aberlour A’Bunadh took home the overall prize. Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23-year-old was awarded Gold in the 18-year and over category and Speyburn received a Gold award for its 15-year-old. Glenlivet also picked up gold for their 10-year-old.

SOSWF Lifetime Achievement

Notable personal awards went to 4 significant advocates of the whisky industry, between them notching up nearly 150 years of dedication.

The Spirit of Speyside Ambassador Award went to William “Buzz” Hutcheson, a festival volunteer after retiring from Cardhu Distillery. International Ambassador recipient was Callum Fraser from Glenfarclas. Unsung Hero award went to Russell Anderson, retiring from The Macallan after 37 years in the whisky industry. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Derek Johnston, who also retires from Forsyths, the global specialists of distillation equipment.




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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