Do you know your malts from your blends? Our guide to the best Speyside whiskies

Speyside Whisky FestivalThe Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is taking place in Speyside from 30th April to 4th May 2015, celebrating the best of Speyside single malts. Speyside is home to some of the world’s leading whisky distilleries, from Glenfiddich and Aberlour to Dalwhinnie and Balvenie, as well as The World’s Finest Shortbread from Walkers. The quality of products from the Speyside region is so high that people travel from far away to visit our local makers of Scottish food and drink.

Countless whisky enthusiasts will flock to Aberlour and Dufftown, the Festival Hubs during the whisky festival. Walkers will be there and if you want to take part in some of the exciting events too, secure your whisky festival tickets before they are sold out. You could say they are selling like hotcakes, but we’d argue they are in fact selling like oatcakes – incidentally also a great palate cleanser to enjoy alongside your favourite Scotch. For anyone who isn’t able to make the festival itself, keep a look out for our shortbread and whisky pairing guide on Facebook.

Our Favourite Speyside Whiskies

Whiskies from Speyside are recognised internationally as some of the best around. Scotland’s malt whisky trail visits several of the established distilleries as well as new operations producing smaller batches of award-winning whisky. Alongside tradition you will find pioneering whisky distilleries that bring a new twist to single malt production. It is exciting to work in such a landscape, and Walkers proudly support local initiatives. With 

Walkers Shortbread Oatcakes and Speyside Whisky

so many high quality whiskies to choose from in the region, we are especially looking forward to the 2015 Whisky Awards at the Speyside Whisky Festival. The finest malts have been put forward for the finals, where the public now gets to cast the deciding vote: which is the best Speyside whisky?

We think all the finalists are in with a chance of the coveted title, and here is a round-up of some of our own favourite distilleries, both in and out of the competition.

Aberlour

Our nearest neighbor is the traditional whisky distillery at the heart of Aberlour. For nearly 200 years the Aberlour distillery have produced some of the finest single malts in the world. Most of the Aberlour whiskies are double cask matured in the finest sherry butts and bourbon casks, creating a rich and rewarding complexity in the finished dram.

Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich is one of the world’s most awarded whiskies, so it is no wonder it ranks as the best-selling single malt whisky on the planet. The family run distillery started in 1886, and fifth generation descendants of founder William Grant now produce a range of whiskies, from classic 12 and 15 year olds to special editions, vintage collections and unique gifts. All the Glenfiddich whiskies are produced in hand-made copper stills and matured in oak casks, like sherry, rum and bourbon whisky barrels.

Glenfarclas

The Glenfarclas distillery in Ballindalloch is named after the green grass of the valley where it is situated, on the Banffshire moors in the heart of Speyside. A family owned and run distillery for six generations, Glenfarclas produce award-winning Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky with a heavy sherry influence. The range of expressions in the Glenfarclas collection make exploring the subtle nuances in taste, complexity and flavour notes an exciting journey for whisky connoisseurs.

Macallan      

The Macallan distillery was one of the first in Scotland to be legally licensed producers of whisky. Macallan has six foundation pillars on which they build their excellence, including the small stills and the high quality oak casks used to produce the unique spirit. Macallan is a favourite among whisky collectors, and some of the rare expressions can change hands for thousands of pounds.

Glenlivet

Another world-famous whisky from Speyside is the Glenlivet, second biggest-selling single malt in the world. Glenlivet has a long whisky producing history which includes both smugglers, kings and gunfire. Glenlivet founder George Smith obtained the first licence to distill whisky in 1824, and close to 200 years later, Glenlivet make some of the world’s most popular whiskies. They are creamy and fruity, full-bodied drams matured in first-fill oak casks and offer a rich and complex tasting sensation.

Cardhu

Cardhu Whisky Speyside Whisky Festival

Cardhu distillery in Knockando is the only malt distillery pioneered by a woman. Since the start in 1811 when Helen Cumming reputedly distilled the first gallon of the now famous Cardhu whisky, the distillery have focused on quality and small quantities. Cardhu offers a light and pleasant whisky, and the clean, silky malt is being used in some of famous blend whisky, Johnnie Walker.

Whisky and Shortbread

With a glass of your own award-winning whisky in hand, make sure you match it with a nibble that brings out the best of your tipple. Did you know that shortbread is a perfect match for a well-rounded malt? Walkers Shortbread are collaborating with French whisky and food writer, “Queen of the Still” Martine Nouet, to bring together pairings of whisky and shortbread. We are looking forward to trying out some exciting combinations of Scotch and shortbread, including our delicious Homebake Shortbread Rounds. These thick and crumbly shortbread rounds melt in the mouth, and perfectly accompany a malty style, dry whisky. Fruity and sweet whiskies matured in bourbon casks could be a great match for our popular Pure Butter Shortbread Fingers, while those with a sweet tooth might find a combination of our chocolate-covered Ginger Royals with a full, sherry cask whisky go down beautifully. Come along to the Speyside Whisky Festival to learn more.

For a unique take on the Speyside whisky and shortbread traditions, we can recommend the delicious Glenfiddich Whisky Shortbread from Walkers; a combination of two of Scotland’s best-loved symbols of food of drink in one tasty shortbread round. Try serving them at your next party– or give the gift of a Glenfiddich Highland Whisky Cake in a beautiful tin to the whisky-lover who has everything.

We hope to see you at the Speyside Whisky Festival, join us to enjoy the special Speyside combination of Walkers and whisky!