May in Scotland is known as whisky month and this year it began during the triumphant return to in-person events at the 2022 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
I attended a few events and spoke to organisers, attendees and businesses supporting the festival. And the overall message from them all was joy to be back to some kind of normality, seeing people enjoying the region again and, from the visitors, the excitement at the chance to explore Scotland.
While this is a festival designed around the main whisky-producing region of Scotland, and aimed at whisky fans, with over 500 events there’s something for everyone – even those who aren’t as ‘into’ whisky as others.
Much like this festival, the industry as a whole is also booming, with new expressions, in development distilleries and old and rare releases meaning that wherever you are in your whisky journey, it’s likely you’ll find the dram for you. And if you don’t, try it with soda, cola or ice. However you want to drink whisky is absolutely fine, no matter what the old adverts say.
One of the biggest advocates of this way of thinking is Blair Bowman, who founded World Whisky Day back in 2012. It falls on the third Saturday of May, meaning this year it’s Saturday, May 15.
Speaking to The Scotsman, Blair explained this date made sense at the time, adding: “[The year] 2012 was to be the year of Scottish food and drink, and May was designated as whisky month, which it still is. The Spirit of Speyside Festival is the first weekend and the Islay festival is at the end of the month, so it made sense to have World Whisky Day bang in the middle.”
Bowman identified a gap in the market for a day that celebrates our national drink, at a time when it has faded from the spotlight. He sold the concept to Hot Rum Cow in 2015, but still remains an active spokesperson for whisky, the day and enjoying a dram how you want.
As the industry continues to get to grips with its past and open up to new audiences, as well as riding this high of innovation, development and sheer amount of liquid available, it feels like there’s never been a better time to start trying – or continuing to explore – whisky.