Media Release: Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival to be opened by First Minister

THE 2008 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival being held next month is to be opened by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has pledged to provide around a quarter of the costs of the prestigious five day festival, scheduled to take place from Thursday, May 1 to Monday, May 5.

Area manager for Moray, Martin Johnson, said HIE was delighted to be able to back such a quality event: “The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is a unique event that has grown year on year and attracts whisky enthusiasts from all over the world. It has really helped to put Speyside on the map and this year it is set to achieve even greater prominence with the presence of the First Minister.”

Mr Johnson added: “The festival is seen as an integral part of Moray’s new tourism strategy which is for Moray to become internationally renowned as the ‘Home of Malt Whisky’. “

Over half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries are located in the Speyside area which is home to the only Malt Whisky Trail in the world.

First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: “Whisky is an ambassador for the quality and distinction of Scotland’s produce. With whisky now exported to over 200 countries and whisky tourism on the rise – we have a lot to celebrate this year at the 2008 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. This is a great opportunity to put Speyside on the map, as the industry goes from strength to strength. With its wealth of distilleries and its scenic majesty I hope that thousands more will join us for a dram next year and enjoy the spirit of Scotland in our year of Homecoming 2009.”

HIE has supported the evolution of the festival from a relatively small affair to last year’s event which was the first to be organised by a newly established, not-for-profit-company, Spirit of Speyside Whisky Ltd. The 2007 festival attracted over 16,000 visitors – up 7,500 on the previous year from as far afield as Canada and Japan.

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Contact: Mairi Gillies
Phone: 01463 244235