The Spirit of Speyside 2014 – Day four

Deciding what to get for lunch

Fourth day of the Spirit of Speyside festival – the Sunday, we started slowly. We drove down to Aberlour and walked around the city for a bit, albeit closed because, well, it was Sunday.

It amazed us a little that with the extra people in the vicinity, the Sundays are a closed day during the festival, but it probably has something to do with rules and laws and stuff.

One of the Festival Information hubs was located in Aberlour (and open), and we went there to investigate what could be done for the remainder of the day, to incorporate some more fun and music in our programme. For lunch we had already booked a traditional three course Traditional Scottish lunch, in Aberlour’s Fleming hall.

Lunch at the community hall was organised and served by local volunteers, and we were pleasantly surprised with the event. Each of the three courses was matched by a whisky that matched the courses nicely. The people running the place did a good job making the food and we could feel the love and passion that went into it. When (not if) we go back to the festival again, we should do more of these local-events.

Our next pre-booked event was a nosing and tasting at Forsyths Coppersmiths in Rothes. We were to nose and taste eight different drams, that had previously been selected by a professional panel from a selection of 45. All we needed to do was select which of the drams suited us best, from two drams per category; under 12,  to 20, 21 years and over and Distillery special editions. Later that evening the “winners” of each category would be selected at the Whisky Awards Ceilidh and Prize-giving at the Glen Grant distillery, where we incidentally just reserved tickets for.

From previous years’ reports, we had heard that there would be a tour at the coppersmith’s factory plant, so we were hoping this would happen again this year, since they are normally not opened for the public (that turned out be our big theme this year’s visit). We found it interesting to see how a still gets to be made from some plates of copper, into one of the most important magical elements in the process of making whisky. The plant – formerly the site of the Caperdonich distillery – was not operating on a Sunday, so we could get close to the (half-)finished stills and have a good look at the bowels of some stills, see at the insides of a nearly finished condenser, and hold some of the (heavy) tools of the trade.

Anger management training at Forsyths 

We really got our geek on, when we were explained about the different thickness’s of the copper plates on the different locations of the stills and how the copper gets its strength by the way the plates are treated. In one corner of the site was a set of stills waiting for transport to the soon to be opened Ballindalloch distillery – a site we would stumble upon later in the week, and see the stills in place already. Another corner held a replacement still for the Kininvie distillery and tucked away in yet another corner was and old still from Balblair. The small still was not used any longer, and was saved from being scrapped by Forsyths. It turned out to be a nice study object for the coppersmith’s apprentices, because many different techniques of mending copper could be found, some of which could possibly be created by the current CEO’s grandfather.

After a quick snack at the house, we called a (hard to obtain) taxi and arrived at the Whisky Awards Ceilidh and Priceigiving at the Glen Grant distillery, again, in Rothes. At the time of our arrival the band Barley, Stills, Mash and Tun” were playing again, accompanied by a cocktail made from Glen Grant, apple-juice, a slice of lime and an abundance of ice – a nice drink. After the first band was done, the Copper Dogs were set on stage again, where they played some of their playlist from last Friday’s gig again, but with a more mellow audience, it seemed to us they did not get as much feedback as the other night. A good performance again though, where Dr Nicolas Morgan joined in once more with his wonderful guitar play.

The prize-giving of the blind tasting followed suit, where the BenRiach 12yo was the winner in the 12 years and under category, with the Knockando 12yo as the runner up. A Balvenie 15yo single barrel won from the Singleton of Dufftown 18yo in the category 13 to 20 years old, the Cardhu 21yo overpowered the Glenfarclas 30 (!) in the 21 years and older category and the big surprise (to us) of the evening was the distillery edition of the Tamdhu 10yo that put the Glenfarclas 1988 single cask 25yo festival bottling into a dark corner to cry.

All in all this shows us once more that in a blind tasting, one can get surprised and put off by what different drams can do when one does not know what is actually in front of them. The both of us had each chosen different “winners” for ourselves, and neither of us had a matching list with the winners. Once more; Fun, capital F.

Lets dance!

After the prize-giving, the “All Star Ceilidh Band” – a large Ceilidh band with a broad repertoire filled the remainder of the evening with lots of music and dance. We met with some interesting people, talked with some old acquaintances, made some new ones, had great stovies again with some lovely drinks (some from a sporran), and had a vibrant time at the Ceilidh, where you can find us again, next time we will be going to this festival.

Time to depart and go back to Craigellachie to put the feet up and have a last dram with friends at the house. Tomorrow the last day of the festival already, where time has passed by so quickly made us feel like being on a roller coaster of Fun, great Meetings, amazing Events, and Emotions. All in Capitals.


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