We love a good whisky festival here in Scotland. It’s no wonder – after all, the term ‘whisky’ comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, which translates as the ‘water of life’. And anything called the ‘water of life’ must be worthy of a bit of a celebration, surely?
We’ve put together a list of great Scottish whisky festivals and events from all across the country that take place in 2019. They are the perfect place to sample whiskies from different regions. Who knows – you might even find your favourite dram!
Stirling Whisky Festival
10 – 12 May, Stirling
Stirling Highland Hotel is transformed into a whisky lover’s paradise during the Stirling Whisky Festival, featuring top distillers from all over Scotland. You can opt for a ticket which also allows entry to a whisky masterclass where you will have the chance to try special and rare malts and go on an educational whisky journey.
Highland Whisky Festival
10 – 17 May, various locations
There’s a brand new whisky festival hitting the scene this year! The Highland Whisky Festival is gearing up to showcase eight of the finest distilleries along the North Coast 500 over eight days. Join exclusive tastings, tours and events at Balblair, Clynelish, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, The Dalmore, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Tomatin and Wolfburn and taste some truly iconic Highland single malts.
World Whisky Day
18 May, various locations
Raise a glass to Scotland’s national drink on World Whisky Day. You could attend an associated whisky-themed event, such as the combined history tour with whisky tasting by Mercat Tours held in Edinburgh’s ancient Blair Street underground vaults, or why not head to your favourite whisky bar or plan a visit to a distillery?
Edinburgh Whisky Stramash
18 – 19 May, Edinburgh
‘A glorious rammy of whisky’ is what the organisers call it, and we couldn’t agree more. Set in the opulent and historic Surgeon’s Hall on Nicholson Street, the Edinburgh Whisky Stramash is the whisky event which doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are plenty of whisky experiences to take part in – some of them quite whimsical in nature – which showcase whiskies from both Scotland and beyond.
Hebridean Whisky Festival
21 – 25 May
This is another new whisky festival, taking place for the first time in 2019. The festival includes whisky tastings, local food and drink and the four distilleries along the Hebridean Whisky Trail (Isle of Harris Distillers, Isle of Raasay Distillery, Torabhaig Distillery and Talisker Distillery) will feature alongside the Sligachan Hotel and Cuillin Brewery and the Aros Cente, both on the beautiful Isle of Skye. Come along and show your support for this inaugural festival set amidst some of the UK’s finest scenery.
Fèis Ìle, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt
24 May – 1 June, Isle of Islay
Set sail (or fly) to the enchanting Isle of Islay, Scotland’s whisky island, for Fèis Ìle. Expect a warm Hebridean welcome and great craic as you explore the distilleries and sample whiskies with the island’s famous peaty flavours. The festival also offers a taste of the unique island culture, with the programme featuring Gaelic and traditional music, ceilidhs, as well as events covering golf, history, natural heritage and more.
Edinburgh Whisky Festival
15 June, Edinburgh
The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh is where you can find the Edinburgh Whisky Festival, a one-day event which will delight whisky fans. Included in the price of your ticket is the sampling of whisky from all of the exhibitors. There are also some rare and more exclusive whiskies available to purchase, or you can educate your senses at whisky masterclasses.
19 October, Speyside, Highlands
Now this is an event with a difference – Dramathon is a marathon distance race where whisky is very much the motivation! Running part of the Speyside Way from Glenfarclas Distillery to Glenfiddich distillery, you can race distances of a full marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K or a relay race. Along the way, get stamped as you pass distilleries to collect whisky miniatures at the finish line. It won’t just be the whisky that will warm you up!
Theatre of Drams
21 – 25 October, Bowmore Hall, Islay
Learn enough to start your own distillery at the Theatre of Drams Festival. This whisky symposium takes place on Scotland’s whisky island – Islay and 2019 will be the festival’s third year running. Spend your time learning about whisky production with knowledge shared by distillers, barley experts, chemists, coppersmiths, coopers, brand ambassadors and more. If you’re short of time, it’s still possible to join the festival for just a day or two by cherry-picking your preferred events.
The Dornoch Whisky Festival
25 – 28 October
Now in its fourth year, the Dornoch Whisky Festival showcases the best Scottish whiskies, alongside the finest Highland food and hospitality right in the heart of the North Highlands. Festival venues include Dornoch Castle Hotel, famed for its award-winning whisky bar, the Carnegie Whisky Cellars, Thompson Bros. at Dornoch Distillery and the revered Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Come for a dram or two and leave with new friends and wonderful memories of the festival and this stunning part of Scotland.
Glasgow Whisky Festival
9 November, Glasgow
This festival brings Scotland’s national drink to the country’s national stadium. Whisky lovers flock to the Glasgow Whisky Festival at Hampden Park to sample and savour a wide range of great whiskies. This festival also showcases the distilleries which are closest to Glasgow along with the city’s independent bottlers.
Fife Whisky Festival
March 2020 (final dates TBC), Cupar, Fife
The Fife Whisky Festival, heading into its third year in 2020, will again take place at the historic Corn Exchange in Cupar and will showcase the finest whiskies from the Kingdom of Fife and beyond. In 2019, over 30 exhibitors offered a huge range of whiskies to try as well as tasting samples at exhibitor stands. The live entertainment programme is also a big feature of this festival.
Inverness Whisky & Gin Festival – The Big Day Out
April 2020 (final dates TBC), Inverness, Highlands
The Inverness Whisky & Gin Festival will again take place at Bogbain Farm overlooking the Moray Firth, just south of the Highland Capital. The organisers promise that the Big Day Out will be an adventure from start to finish! There will be live music throughout the day and a Fired Up Scotland pop up restaurant will again serve the very best of Scottish cuisine.
Spirit of Speyside Festival
30 April – 4 May 2020, Speyside, Highlands
Join whisky lovers from far and wide in romantic Speyside for a unique and varied whisky festival programme. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is one of the most popular in Scotland and filled with special manager and behind-the-scenes distillery tours, whisky and food pairings, whisky tours by train or 4×4, sensory experiences, ceilidhs, whisky-themed walks and more, held across a huge range of iconic distilleries and local venues.
There are lots of other whisky events taking place throughout the year, including tastings and food pairings – why not find a whisky event taking place when you visit? Or, find a distillery and take a tour.
For information on local distilleries, check out our Scottish Whisky Distilleries Guide!