A glass was raised last night to the best tasting dram in the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards which capped a week long festival devoted to a drop of the good stuff.
The five-day-long celebration of Speyside’s world-famous whisky climaxed with the announcement of the best single malt as judged by the public.
More than 200 votes were cast in the competition, now in its 16th year, with the winners announced at a ceilidh in the Laichmoray Hotel in Elgin.
Strathisla 12 scooped the top spot in the 12-year-old and under category, Aberlour 18 won the 13 to 20 year old category, and the winner of the 21-year-old category of malts was the GlenSpey 21.
James Campbell, the festival chairman, said: “It is a huge honour to receive one of these awards because they are voted for by the public, as opposed to a panel of experts, and are not influenced by any kind of consumer loyalty of external influences.
“Festival visitors have used their noses, knowledge and taste buds to vote on these drams at judging sessions that were held across Speyside.”
The festival also features more than 400 events, including live music, craft shops and of course distillery tours and tastings.
Guests included former footballer Michael Owen, who visited Kingussie-based Spey distillery, who also took part in the festival for the first time.
The retired sportsman, who previously played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, has entered into an advertising deal with the distillery to represent them in the booming Asian market.
Mr Owen said: “It was great to be able to visit the distillery and be with my Spey family as they celebrate being part of the festival for the first time.
“There has been a real buzz about the distillery today and I have really enjoyed meeting people who have come from all over the world to visit the festival.
“You can tell that these people are very passionate about whisky, and it has been a great experience to see them learn more about Spey and the distillery.”