Four whisky legends were singled out for special recognition at the opening dinner of the 20th Spirit of Speyside Festival on Wednesday night.
Organisers paid tribute to four people who have helped put the Scotch whisky industry, the Speyside region and the annual festival, on the map.
The lifetime achievement award went to Michael Urquhart, former managing director of Gordon & MacPhail.
Whisky writer Charles MacLean was the recipient of the International Ambassador of the Year in recognition of his efforts over many years to promote the festival and Speyside to those curious about Scotland’s national drink.
The first winner of the unsung hero award was coppersmith Dennis McBain, in recognition of more than 50 years behind the scenes work at Balvenie Distillery.
Spirit of Speyside Ambassador award went to Ian Millar who has managed Mortlach, Linkwood and Glen Elgin Distilleries in his 48 years in the industry.
Festival chairman James Campbell, said: “Each of our winners has made a huge contribution to the industry, each in a different way, and we are proud to honour them in this fashion.”
The winners were announced at a sell-out dinner that officially marked the start of the 20th festival, held at The Glenlivet Distillery, where the guest speaker was Lord Thurso, chairman of VisitScotland.
With more than 700 events, this year’s festival programme runs over six days and continues until Monday May 6.