In Scotland, we love a whisky festival. 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 2017. They are the perfect place to sample whiskies from different regions. Who knows – you might even find your favourite dram!
Spirit of Speyside Festival
27 April – 1 May, 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 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. This year’s programme features something a little different – a Guinness World Record cask building challenge, which will take place at the Speyside Cooperage on 29 April.
Stirling Whisky Festival
6 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.
World Whisky Day
20 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?
Fèis Ìle, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt
26 May – 3 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 Stramash
27 – 28 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, 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.
Edinburgh Whisky Festival
17 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.
West Coast Whisky Fèis
22 July, Oban, Argyll
A new event for 2017, this inaugural festival takes place in Oban, a seaside town which is home to one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. The West Coast Whisky Fèis will take place in the Skippinish Ceilidh House, where you can sample whiskies from some of the oldest and smallest distilleries on the west coast, put your sense of smell to the test in a nosing competition, or take part in the whisky masterclass.
21 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
23 – 27 October, Bowmore Hall, Islay
Learn enough to start your own distillery at the Theatre of Drams Festival – a new whisky symposium taking place on Scotland’s whisky island – Islay. Spend five days 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.
Glasgow Whisky Festival
11 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.
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?