Cheers to the return of in-person drinks festivals in Scotland - Rosalind Erskine

When I started Scran, The Scotsman’s food and drink podcast, I had visions of travelling around the country speaking to – and eating and drinking with – some of our top producers, chefs, whisky makers.

We launched in December 2019. I made it as far as tapping birch trees in Perthshire in March last year before lockdown hit and interviews were conducted by Zoom from then on.

One of the many people I spoke to regularly was the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s (SWMS) master ambassador John McCheyne. We’d invariably end each call by saying ‘it’ll be great to have a dram in person’.

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At that time it seemed like a far off pipe dream. I finally met John in person and we indeed did have a dram (or five) at the first in-person SMWS Gathering in two years, which took place in Glasgow this past weekend.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) shares the world’s best curated whiskies. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

This autumn, the drinks industry, like so many others, is back to in-person events and the excitement is palpable.

Whisky, as they say, is made to be shared. It’s a drink to crack open and savour over nights in front of a fire, at the end of lazy meals, to toast, to commiserate or even as the starting point of conversations.

More recently though it has been enjoyed in front of fuzzy screens and inadvertently on mute.

While May is known as whisky month, this year it may as will be October due to the flurry of events taking place and being geared up.

The National Whisky Festival in Aberdeen, and the aforementioned gathering, have taken place and there are a good few more dates in the diary for those missing company to savour along with their drinks.

Speyside will once again welcome visitors for the paired back Spirit of Speyside Festival, set to take place in November.

But before then the Whisky Shop Dufftown is hosting its Whisky Colours Festival in October, which again is smaller, but no less packed with tastings and talks. The Stirling Whisky Festival also returns at the end of October.

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Last autumn felt cold and stark as restrictions came back into play and there was nothing to look forward to on the horizon, but now the warmth of conversation and a good few drinks beckons, and I can’t wait.



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