Spirit of Speyside returns for 20th anniversary

The largest whisky festival of its kind in the world, Spirit of Speyside, is set to return for another successful run next week.

Spirit of speyside scottish whisky
Scotland is home to some amazing whisky distilleries – the Spirit of Speyside festival offers an opportunity like no other to check them out | Credit: Wikimedia

Starting on Wednesday the 1st of May and ending on Monday 6th May, the festival boasts a programme of over 500 whisky-inspired events.

The whisky festival allows you to tour old and new distilleries, village halls, local whisky bars, historic castles, old steadings, much loved local shops as well as the great outdoors!  What better way to explore the Speyside area than with a nip or two of some of Scotland’s most popular whiskies?

There are events all over the Moray area to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival, from Aviemore in the South, following the river Spey to central Speyside and the historic towns in the coastal North.

Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown Speyside Spirit of Speyside
Speyside boasts excellent distilleries, including the brilliant Glenfiddich distillery | Credit: Wikimedia

Scotland has a long history with uisge beatha (the water of life), with the fiery drink, with the first recorded account of whisky going back to Friar John Cor in around 1495.  However, most believe that the manufacturing of whisky in Scotland stems back much further than that.

Spirit of Speyside is run by a board of directors from different industries including whisky, culture and heritage, tourism and hospitality.  They work on a voluntary basis along with the festival manager, finance manager and event development graduate.

There are a number of distilleries that open their doors for the festival, with the events programme changing every year.  This year distilleries hosting events include Craigellachie, Ballindalloch, Glenlivet and GlenAllachie, to name just a few.

The festival also delivers an opening dinner, opening and closing ceilidhs, the Whisky Awards and the Whisky School.  However, the majority of events are delivered by partners and members, making every event unique.

Spirit of Speyside Glen Moray whisky
Glen Moray landed lots of prizes at the 2018 Whisky Awards | Credit: Shirokazan

You can book tickets now for the many events by visiting the Spirit of Speyside website.  Events include distillery tours, whisky tastings, walks, afternoon teas and much more.  The prices for these events range from free, to £30 – £60, to £500.  There are activities to suit every budget.

Although the festival is spectacular, visitors can expect a friendly welcome at Speyside all year round.

Make Moray your destination for your next whisky tasting experience by booking your stay at Carden Cottages now.  You can also subscribe to our mailing list for updates on last minute bargains.

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Fashion, history and great cake at Johnston’s of Elgin

If you are venturing to Moray in order to take in the culture, the fashion, or to enjoy good food, there is one place in the North East of Scotland that combines all of these aspects into an unforgettable experience.

On the outskirts of Elgin lies ‘Johnston’s of Elgin’, a 220-year-old woollen mill that has plenty to offer in terms of high end clothing and homeware, Scottish culture and delicious food.

Johnston's of Elgin mill visitor centre
Johnston’s of Elgin offers a rich history, great fashion and fantastic cakes | Credit: Visit Scotland

Although the mill is hundreds of years old – it appears to be currently basking in the prime of its life.  The mill was originally established on the banks of the River Lossie over two centuries ago by Alexander Johnston.  The company has since expanded massively – producing quality fabrics and textiles that have allowed them to be awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointments as Manufacturers of Estate Tweed H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay.

The shop boasts high end fashion for everyone with their range covering menswear, womenswear, children’s wear, accessories and homeware.  I love their fabric so much that, thanks to my lovely wife, it has become part of the furniture at Carden cottages – with our lovely chairs in The Barn cottage upholstered with Johnston’s tweed.

Chairs at Carden Cottages upholstered with Johnston's of Elgin fabric
Our gorgeous chairs in The Barn, Carden Cottages, upholstered with beautiful fabric from Johnston’s of Elgin

Although the mill as a whole is quite an excellent visit, the coffee shop is my personal favourite, drawing me back time and time again to sample the fine food and drink.  It boasts a wide range of breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas – with some of the tastiest coffee and cakes in the Moray area!

If you’re looking to sample some great local cuisine, Johnston’s can certainly oblige.  They aim to have at least 40% of their menu made using only the finest local produce, which has led to them winning a “Taste Our Best” accreditation from Visit Scotland.  So you don’t have to just take my word for it.  The hot salmon salad is particularly tasty – but there is plenty to choose from!

Cakes and desserts at Johnston's of Elgin coffee shop
Just a few of the delicious cake offerings from Johnston’s of Elgin’s coffee shop | Credit: Tripadvisor User Mummy2414

You can also take a tour and learn all about the rich history of the fabric empire and local culture.  It’s not just for food and fashion lovers.

Johnston’s also strive to be eco-friendly – aiming to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions and waste, by implementing new technologies and by instituting best practice within the company.  Therefore, this is the perfect place to visit when staying at our green cottages.

On top of all this, the staff at Johnston’s really go the extra mile to make you feel warm and welcome.  They are friendly, cheery and always on hand to deal with any problem you have – not that you should expect to have many here!

The mill provides free guided tours every day, between 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.  For more information, or to book, visit their website at: https://www.johnstonsofelgin.com/retail/mill-tour/ or email milltours@johnstonsofelgin.com

Fashion expert, foodie, history buff or cakeaholic – there is something for everyone at Johnston’s of Elgin.

Best of all – you can find all of this just a 10 minute drive from Carden Cottages.

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