Whisky events galore at Dallas Dhu as distillery celebrates Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
26 April 2010
The historic Dallas Dhu Distillery near Forres is gearing up for a busy time during the 2010 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
The event - which is held during the first long weekend in May every year and celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2009 - invites visitors to celebrate Scotland’s national drink through a programme of entertaining and informative events.
One of the annual highlights is the ceremonious transfer of the Spirit of Speyside Festival Flag to Central Speyside. This year this promises to be quite an occasion as it will involve a mounted cavalcade of over twenty horses, a mountain biking team, and parades through both Forres and Grantown-on-Spey.
On Sunday 2nd May the flag will set off from Benromach Distillery in Fife, escorted by the horses and riders who will make their way through Forres, led by a pipe band procession, before starting their journey south to the Dava Way.
The mounted escort is due to arrive at Dallas Dhu Distillery, a mile south of Forres, at around noon. At the picturesque late-19th-century distillery, the riders will hand over the flag to the mountain bikers. They will then continue on to Grantown-on-Spey, where at around 4.30pm, the flag will be paraded through the town and on to the riverside. And on the following day the flag will be taken from Grantown on the last leg of its journey by canoe on the River Spey, to Advie where it is kept until the next Festival.
Festival-goers can enjoy several special events at Dallas Dhu Distillery on Monday 3rd May. There’s a special presentation, ‘Whisky Galore 1910 – Wetting The King’s Head’, with performances by a costumed interpreter throughout the day, between 11am and 3pm.
Visitors will meet Inspector John Macdonald, one of King George V’s customs and excisemen, during one of his periodic inspections of this relatively new distillery in Speyside. The Glasgow firm of Wright and Greig are producing the popular blend of Roderick Dhu from single malt whisky distilled and casked at Dallas Dhu, and the company is ready to respond to the increased demand for whisky created by the coronation of the new King in 1910. Inspector Macdonald provides a lively rendition of the life and times of an exciseman, highlighting the role’s responsibility of ensuring that the whisky got safely from Forres to Glasgow by train. He sheds light on several mysteries including why a safe was essential in a distillery and what ‘the angel’s share’ was.
In addition, the day’s events include a book signing and presentation by Gavin D Smith, one of the world's leading whisky writers and authorities on the subject. Editor, author and journalist, Gavin contributes to a wide range of publications and is the author of 19 books, including The A-Z of Whisky, Whisky Wit & Wisdom, The Whisky Men and Goodness Nose. He is also in demand for whisky-related talks and tutored tastings.
There will also be a cookery demonstration by Graham Harvey and Sheila McConachie who run the Craggan Mill restaurant in Speyside and co-wrote the award-winning Whisky Kitchen cookery book. Graham was 2007 Spirit of Strathspey Chef of the Year. The couple are no strangers to Dallas Dhu, as they hosted a cookery demonstration there last year and presented a unique venison recipe created using the Dallas Dhu 1982 malt.
Visitors to these highlights at Dallas Dhu Distillery on 3rd May will also have the opportunity to view a unique photography exhibition. Around 60 original images of the distillery taken by the members of Forres Camera Club, are being displayed at the site until Friday 7th May. And throughout the Sunday, there will be guided tours of Dallas Dhu and tastings of Roderick Dhu whisky. There’s also a special promotion offering 20% discounted admission to Brodie Castle.
Distillery manager Richard Green said: “For anyone who appreciates ‘Uisge beatha’, ‘the water of life’, and is interested in the history of the whisky making, a visit to Dallas Dhu is a must. And with all the special events we’re running to enhance the experience, visitors are in for a treat.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The picturesque distillery of Dallas Dhu was built in 1898 to produce malt whisky for Glasgow firm Wright and Greig’s popular ‘Roderick Dhu’ blend. Dallas Dhu is typical of many small distilleries which sprang up around the time to help quench the growing thirst for ‘Scotch’. While the march of change has transformed many distilleries and closed others, Dallas Dhu remains a perfectly preserved time-capsule of the distiller’s art.
- The distillery (tel: 01309 676548) is situated one mile south of Forres off the A940. Postcode IV36 2RR. From Inverness train station there is an Aberdeen to Forres Scotrail service and the distillery is 30 minutes walk from Forres station. It is open all year and all week from 1 April - 30 September from 9.30 am to 5.30pm. Admission adult £5.20, child £2.60, concessions £4.20.
- The attraction’s highlights include: the malt barn – the long two-storey warehouse where the chief raw material – barley – was turned into malt; the kiln – where the barley was dried over a lightly-peated fire; the mash house – dominated by the mash tun, a great cooking vat where the malted barley and water mixed to create a sugary ‘wort’; the tun room – housing the six great wash backs, where the yeast fermented the sugary wort into weak alcohol or ‘wash’; the still house – the spiritual heart of the distillery, where the weak ‘wash’ was transformed into fiery spirit; and the bonded warehouses – where the finished product was left to mature for at least three years.
- Dallas Dhu Distillery is one of 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland. Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys. For further details of all of Historic Scotland’s sites visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.
- For details of Graham Harvey and Sheila McConachie’s Craggan Mill Restaurant in Grantown on Spey, visit www.cragganmill.co.uk