Spirit of Speyside

The stereotypes about Scottish people loving their drink are as true as stereotypes can be. If we can drink then we will, which is why I once had a glass of wine with my cooked breakfast at Stansted airport at 8am. 

On top of that, I live next to the River Spey, in whisky country. Wikipedia shows 50 distilleries in my local area and that's before we even start on the gin! I spotted on Twitter that the folk behind the huge Spirit of Speyside festival were hosting an event in Elgin so got tickets immediately. Whisky has never been my first choice of drink so I was excited to try lots of different kinds and hopefully find a dram I was keen on. 

Mike and I made a proper date night of it and went for a meal at The Drouthy Cobbler to line our stomachs before the main event. I've always loved their gin selection but they recently upped their game with a new menu. I started the night with Rock Rose gin garnished with mint, though I've heard it's amazing with rosemary, which is one of my favourite flavours so I'll keep that in mind next time I have it at home! 

I found my dram! Macallan Amber. They gave us homemade tablet to go with it and now I can see how all my Christmas days are going to be filled from here until the end of my days. Mike and I met up with our friends Craig and Jill; Craig works at the local Glen Grant distillery and knew everybody there so his drams were a bit more generously proportioned than ours!

Gordon Castle is just along the road from my house and they had a lovely wee stand, where I tried their raspberry gin liqueur. Raspberry is my favourite flavour but this was just a little too sickly for me. We then moved on to the plum and ginger, which was unexpectedly gorgeous. Apparently it sells out as soon as the small batch of it is finished so you have to be quick if you want some and keep an eye on their social media! 

I ended up chatting to a lovely woman called Jill and it turns out, she's the brains behind the plum gin and is now starting her own gin brand! Her copper still is called "JJ", named after her two grannies and Avva Gin will be available before the end of the year. I'm so excited!

This event really blew my expectations out of the water. It was such good value for money, I got to try lots of new drinks and everyone working on the stands was really knowledgeable about their products. I can't wait for the Spirit of Speyside festival next May.

Lauren Aitchison