Scotland’s whisky distilleries have tasted a ‘golden era’ of success in the build up to one of Europe’s largest whisky festivals. And the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is set to bring an international flavour to the area as it gets ready to host thousands of visitors from around the world from Thursday, 29th April for a five day ‘dramfest’.
As it enters its 11th year, the Festival is celebrating the news that global exports of Scotch whisky reached record levels in 2009, despite the economic downturn, and that visitor numbers to Scotland’s whisky distilleries also increased.
Figures published recently by the Scotch Whisky Association reveal exports rose by 3% in value to £3.13billion, contributing £99 every second to the UK trade balance. The equivalent of 1.1billion 70cl bottles of whisky is being shipped abroad, and Scotch whisky is enjoying success in France and the United States, with Brazil and South Africa both significant emerging markets in 2009.
Advance bookings for over 270 events to be staged during the Festival have proved particularly attractive to visitors form UK, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, United States and Denmark. And Festival organisers report interest from as far afield as Singapore, Czech Republic, Japan, Russia, UAE and India.
Festival Chairman Jim Royan said: “Whisky is the cornerstone of the Moray economy and local tourism, and the Festival celebrates the importance of the Speyside whisky industry not just economically, but also socially and culturally to Moray and to Scotland.
“The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has gone from strength to strength since its inception 11 years ago, and this year looks set to be another major success, offering our visitors a great opportunity to celebrate – and sample – Scotland’s national drink.”
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland, the national events agency said: “Spirit of Speyside is the biggest whisky festival in Scotland and a key event for promoting the country as the home of whisky, which is even more apt this year as Scotland celebrates the Year of Food and Drink.
“Whisky was one of the key themes of Homecoming Scotland 2009, and as a result brought the focus back on one of Scotland’s greatest exports which is evident from the record sales last year. EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for the sixth consecutive year and looks forward to yet another fantastic festival.”