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Comment: Scotland's main whisky festivals make a welcome return

With the end of covid restrictions in Scotland, we’re faced with a spring and summer of events that are returning to a warm welcome.

Three of these are the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival, Campbeltown Malts Festival and Feis Isle, Islay’s celebration of music and malts. They’re also three reasons as to why May is unofficially dubbed whisky month in Scotland.

As revealed last year by VisitScotland research shows that, pre-pandemic, visitors spent around 20 per cent of their expenditure on food and drink – contributing around £1 billion in the Scottish economy.

When it comes to a dram or two, three out of five visitors to Speyside come for whisky tourism.

Figures like these show the importance of these festivals, not just to their local area, but for Scotland overall, as we emerge from the pandemic.

Spirit of Speyside kicks off the month, falling from 27 April until 2 May, and sees over 500 events across the bank holiday weekend.

George McNeil, Chairman at Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, said: “This week marks an exciting chapter in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival story as we officially open our first full in-person festival in three years.

"In 2015 the local authority's economic impact of the Festival was calculated as £1.4m and the economic impact at the Scottish level was calculated as £1.6m. Since then, a full Economic Impact Report has not been carried out, but we hope the Festival will be able to undertake another economic impact assessment soon.

"Between 2015 and 2019 the Festival increased considerably in size and scope and I’m sure the pre-launch interest in its return in 2022 will translate into benefits for our entire region.”

There’s then just a few weeks before the Campbeltown Malts Festival, which runs from 24 to 27 May and is a celebration of the past and exciting future of this once power house whisky producing region. Then it’s a hop skip and jump to Islay for Feis Isle, which runs from 27 May to 4 June.

The anticipation and excitement around these festivals is huge, as they’ll see friends and whisky fans reunite once more to raise a dram, and celebrate a return to Scotland.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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