Drinking in class?

With not a school dinner or blackboard in sight, the 2013 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival School could be the most alternative school you ever attend. The curriculum is whisky, talking is encouraged and, yes, you may sit with your friend. In the run up to this year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which takes place from May 2-6, 16 eager students will spend three days learning about all aspects of Scotch malt whisky production before graduating with a diploma.

Aimed at whisky enthusiasts, the school was set up in 2009 to help passionate visitors develop an in-depth knowledge on the production of malt whisky that cannot be gained from distillery visits or from the pages of a book.

Spirit of SPeyside

So what can students expect? To ensure enthusiasts depart with a thorough understanding of the whisky making process, the school includes seven lectures and six technical visits which examine the malting, mashing, brewing, distilling and maturation of whisky. The lectures will be presented by internationally renowned speakers, all from within the whisky distilling industry and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

As newly qualified whisky connoisseurs, pupils will then be asked to put their knowledge to the test by tasting and voting on the six whiskies which make it through to the final of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival awards.

Ed Dodson, retired master distiller and former festival director, is one of the founder members of the Whisky School and shares more than 170 years of experience in the whisky trade with his school co-founders.

Ed comments, “The Whisky School is a unique educational workshop for whisky lovers the world over. I am always pleasantly surprised by the passion people show for learning about the process, even if they don’t work in the industry. With just 16 places each year, we are always oversubscribed and already have bookings for the 2014 school. The committee that set up and still organise the School, Dr Tim Dolan, Charles Smith, Peter Warren and myself, do so to give something back to an industry that has given us so much enjoyment, knowledge and experience.”

Spirit of Speyside

Whisky School graduate, Dr Stephen Lunn, attended the school in May 2009. He says, "I approached the school with a degree of trepidation but soon realised my fears were unfounded. The balance between lectures and field trips was truly excellent, and the selection of the speakers by the organising committee was near faultless. I had come to the School thinking that I knew a little about the making of Scotch whisky, and went away realising just how little I had known when I arrived, leaving with an enthusiasm and determination to learn more.”

The home of some of the world’s favourite malt whiskies will host the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival from May 2nd – May 6th 2013. The internationally renowned Speyside region will draw thousands of people from all over the globe to raise a toast in celebration of the amber nectar.

The festival will not only showcase the very best in Scotch whisky – it will also introduce visitors to the food and music of the local area, along with its cultural heritage and stunning natural landscape.

The five day festival boasts a packed programme of over 370 events taking place in various locations around Speyside, with a range of activities to suit everyone’s tastes. With the region being home to over 50 distilleries, visitors will have the opportunity to take distillery tours – including several not usually open to the public - and taste rare and valuable malts.

Visitors will also be able to explore the area on foot on guided walks, visit exhibitions, sample fantastic locally produced food and dance the night away at evening ceilidhs.

To find out more and to buy tickets for events in the 2013 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme visit www.spiritofspeyside.com

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