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Speyside: What You Should Know
Want to know a fun fact? The only time alcohol is allowed in the House of Commons is during Budget Day. According to Parliamentary tradition, the chancellor may drink whatever he wishes to drink when making a budget speech; most of them opt for whisky. Rumor has it; Kenneth Clarke was partial to drinking Glenfarclas from Speyside while giving his speeches.
A Festival in Speyside
The 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will be taking place from Aril 28 to May 2. If you’ve tasted the various whiskies produced in this part of the world, you’d know that delivering a serious speech while drinking a dram is difficult.
If you ask me, Speyside whisky is somewhat like a lover. It needs to be treated kindly and respectfully, looked at and admired, and of course, tasted. Where you drink it is also of significance, particularly with expensive malts, as you’d want to savor the flavor while taking in your surroundings.
There are a lot of Speyside available with a handful of good places to enjoy a dram. Aside from that, there is no shortage of experts who will give you an idea about their favorite dram; where it’s produced and its little history.
History of Whisky Distillation
A few years ago, distilling whisky was rather tricky. With primitive equipment, lack of expertise and knowledge, you’d probably end up with a lethal spirit. As distillation processes have been improved over time, advancements were seen. Apparently, monks had significant knowledge about distilling which explains why they are often seen happy and peacefully quiet. Soon, whisky has become a tradition in Scotland and was served in many social gatherings.
However, all things come with a price. Taxmen soon wanted shares from the profits. This resulted to stills that were produced underground. If we believe rumors, the remote Braes of Glenlivet had over 200 illegal stills operating during the major whisky smuggling era. There were 3 major whisky roads that started there which allowed smugglers to transport their goods to cities in the east and south. Evading taxmen and smuggling whisky has become a part of life after the English Parliament was established in 1644.
Today, on the other hand, is a different story. While Speyside is known as the home of Scotch whisky as well as more than half of the distilleries in Scotland, many of which are organizing special events during festivals that sell out quickly; hence, booking in advance is important. Highlights to festivals include tastings in various distilleries, fine dining experiences, live music, and challenges to find the best whisky in town that would go well with bacon roll.
Where to Stay during Festivals
A highly recommended accommodation among tourists is the Craigellachie Hotel on Victoria Street in Speyside. Sounds familiar? This historic hotel, which has been elegantly upgraded without losing its old-style charm, has become popular among celebrities including Noel Gallagher and Kate Moss. The hotel gives off a vintage and relaxed vibe and a bar that serves over 700 whisky bottles, making it a rather fun place to chill.