Spirit of Speyside 2024: What events can I still book as festival turns 25 - including Glenfarclas, GlenAllachie and a new The Glenlivet tour

There’s less than two months until the annual Spirit of Speyside festival, Scotland’s biggest whisky festival. Rosalind Erskine takes a look at what events are still available to book

Whisky fans – and those keen to explore our national drink – from all over the world will descend on Scotland’s most prolific whisky region within weeks for the 25th Spirit of Speyside Festival.

Running from May 1-6 in Speyside, there is almost 700 events taking place this year, with many of the region’s distilleries celebrating 200 years.

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Needless to say, there’s a lot going on, and with about half of the tickets now sold out, the festival is shaping as a busy and entertaining few days. If you are thinking of attending but don’t know where to start, here are some events the Scotsman thinks are worth a look-in – and still have tickets available. From a helicopter flight at almost £1,000 each, to £5 for highballs overlooking the Spey, there’s something for all budgets.

Some events for Spirit of Speyside have sold out but there's still plenty - for all budgets - left to book.Some events for Spirit of Speyside have sold out but there's still plenty - for all budgets - left to book.
Some events for Spirit of Speyside have sold out but there's still plenty - for all budgets - left to book.

Glenfarclas

This family-owned distillery surely has the headlining grabbing event of 2024, which is also up for the best new event award. The Ultimate Whisky Flight includes a helicopter tour of Speyside. At over £900 per person, you’ll need deep pockets but it’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But if you would rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, you can still get tickets to the 1950s Tour with Ian McWilliam, which includes a distillery tour, six drams all from the 1950s enjoyed in the VIP tasting room, a book about the distillery history and a special gift to take away. This is £511.19 – the price John Grant paid for the distillery in 1865 – and there are still a few tickets left.

This tour is a wonderful way to find out about this understated Speyside business and is a must for all sherried whisky fans.

The Glenlivet Smuggler's HideoutThe Glenlivet Smuggler's Hideout
The Glenlivet Smuggler's Hideout

The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet’s new visitor centre opened in 2021 and is a beautiful space to find out more about this Speyside malt’s history. If you have been on the tour and are thinking of passing this distillery by, don’t, as they have a brand new tour of their expanded production site.

To mark its 200-year anniversary, the team at this beautiful distillery are opening the doors to their new still house – for the first time ever – where you can see how new technology is keeping old traditions alive. Titled Glenlivet, the Visionary, this tour is ideal for whisky enthusiasts and those who don’t know much about the production side of things. The new still house is immaculate, and a real reflection of the scale of this brand. The tour, which costs £65, ends with a tutored tasting of three whiskies in the stylish Smuggler’s Bothy tasting room back at the visitor centre.

GlenAllachie

The Dowans Hotel is playing host to over 40 events.The Dowans Hotel is playing host to over 40 events.
The Dowans Hotel is playing host to over 40 events.

Those looking to spend some time with GlenAllachie owner Billy Walker may be disappointed as tickets to his masterclasses sold out within minutes. But you can still go on the Behind the Scenes (£70 per person) and Wonders of Wood (£80 per person) tours. There’s also an evening Q&A at GlenAllachie’s new tasting room with Mr Walker (£40 per person) for those keen to get any burning whisky or cask questions answered.

The distillery is home to 16 warehouses, which are home to about 50,000 casks. Mr Walker is known for his cask expertise and willingness to experiment. The Behind the Scenes tour will show guests how GlenAllachie is made with a, as the name suggests, behind-the-scenes look at the production area and warehouses. After this, you can sample some whiskies during a tutored tasting. The Wonders of Wood tour is hosted in a dunnage warehouse and showcases the art and importance of cask maturation.

The Dowans Hotel

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This family-owned and run hotel in Aberlour is hosting a whopping 42 events this year. Many are sold out, but you can still get tickets to A history of Scotch with Hans Offringa (£45); whisky and cheese tasting (£45); Lunch with LochLea (£75); 'Illicit Distilling' with Alan Winchester (£125) and Lunch with Tormore Distillery (£65). Most events revolve around whisky talks and include food, which is ideal given the award-winning hotel’s menu and offering is delicious.

Whisky fans can book for a Q&A with legend Billy Walker.Whisky fans can book for a Q&A with legend Billy Walker.
Whisky fans can book for a Q&A with legend Billy Walker.

Tomintoul

This is another often underrated Speyside distillery, but their annual Fireside Sessions is a must-do. Guests will join Tomintoul’s master blender Iain Forteath for a delicious hot toddy in the distillery still house before heading down to the banks of the River Avon to relax fireside and enjoy drams paired with toasted marshmallows and a fine cigar, which is optional. While Friday, May 4 has sold out, there’s still tickets (priced at £80 per person) for May 2-3 and the cost includes return transportation to/from Tomintoul Distillery via four pick-up points (Craigellachie, Dufftown, Aberlour and Tomintoul village).

CopperCairn

This whisky and adventure firm, headed up by two industry veterans Mitch Bechard and Fraser Campbell, has a number of exciting events lined up for this year’s festival. At their Barrels and Botanicals: A Whisky Foraging Adventure with CopperCairn (£60), guests will join whisky consultant Fraser Campbell and the accomplished forager Leanne Townsend for an afternoon of, as the name suggests, whisky (cocktails) and foraging.

Larkfire

This wild water for whisky company has a sold-out water source event. But if you’re keen for a few Friday drinks and a chat, head along to their Highballs at the Highlander, which is only a fiver per ticket. Taking place on Friday, May 3 from 5-7pm, you’ll be able to meet the team who will be mixing up a variety of refreshing highballs made with fantastic locally produced whisky.

The Station Hotel

If you fancy a lovely meal paired with whiskies, then book the Still and Stove tasting menu at this Rothes hotel. Priced at £140 per person, this ten-course tasting menu showcases Speyside’s fine natural larder, which is paired with whiskies. The Station Hotel’s restaurant has two AA Rosettes, and was rated highly by The Scotsman’s restaurant reviewers.

To find out more about this year’s Spirit of Speyside Festival, and to book tickets, visit the website: https://tickets.spiritofspeyside.com/sales

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