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Fifth Fife Whisky Festival is a sell-out success 

10/03/2023
Fife Whisky Festival 2023 : Co-founders Justine Hazlehurst (left) and Karen Somerville

THE FIFTH Fife Whisky Festival proved a sell-out success with more festival-goers enjoying the event than ever before.

Around 700 whisky-lovers attended the festival which featured tasting sessions and special events including an exclusive tour of InchDairnie Distillery.

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There was also a whisky-themed dinner at Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh with crime author Val McDermid this year’s guest of honour.

She praised the festival’s success saying: “The Fife Whisky Festival dinner was the best kind of night out – beautiful surroundings at Lindores Abbey, delicious food, lively conversation and the perfect choice of drams to accompany each course. 

“Now it’s got a whisky festival, Fife really does have everything!”

Meanwhile, organisers Karen Somerville and Justine Hazlehurst have confirmed the festival will return for a sixth outing in 2024.

Ms Hazlehurst said: “It was a successful weekend which went smoothly with lots of positive feedback.

“We had 90 people for the banquet dinner which is the largest number of attendees so far and Val was a great speaker.

“She was very funny and spoke about her links to Fife, her love of whisky and how she was pleased to be involved with a festival which is, unusually, organised by two women.

“This year, we were able to host 350 people at each Saturday session – our largest number since we started – and they enjoyed the very first taste of several new whiskies.”

“We’re now ready to start organising the 2024 event and look forward to returning to Fife next March.”

The festival featured tasting sessions at Cupar’s Corn Exchange where whisky connoisseurs enjoyed drams from more than 40 distilleries and independent bottlers including Annandale Distillery, GlenWyvis Distillery, Isle of Arran Distillers and James Eadie.

They had the chance to try brand-new whiskies including samples from InchDairnie Distillery of its soon-to-be-released RyeLaw whisky.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Distillery Company poured its Glasgow 1770 Ruby Port and Red Wine Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky – the first time it’s been tasted in the UK – and Kingsbarns Distillery brought its new flagship whisky ‘Doocot’ which only launched the day before the festival began.

This year’s exclusive Festival Bottling was a Staoisha eight-year-old – a peated single malt from Bunnahabhain Distillery bottled by Woodrow’s of Edinburgh.

And the famous Luvians Bottle Shop, the festival’s on-site official retailer, was on hand for whisky purchases.

On the Sunday, there was a tour of InchDairnie Distillery in Glenrothes which opened specifically for a small group of festival-goers.

There was also a tasting masterclass from Hannah Whisky Merchants hosted by their brand ambassador, Paul McKendrick, at the Hillend Tavern in Dalgety Bay.

Festival co-founder Karen Somerville said: “We were pleased to offer two venues for the 2023 Sunday sessions – we like to do something special on the Sunday and are now looking at increasing to four Sunday events.

“We were also delighted to continue our annual fundraising efforts for Age Concern Cupar with around £1,000 expected to be donated this year from our generous attendees and exhibitors.”

She added: “Tickets for the next festival are due to go on sale early September – watch our social media for more details.” 

Fife Whisky Festival was launched in 2017 by Ms Hazlehurst, founder of Kask Whisky, and Mrs Somerville, of Angels’ Share Glass, with the first event held in March 2018.

Sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, legal firm MacRoberts LLP, construction company ISG and leading experiential marketing software platform AnyRoad, the event showcases the renaissance of whisky-making in Fife by bringing together the best whisky producers from the region and beyond. 

Staff from AnyRoad, which enables businesses to operate and optimise their events and experiences, captured valuable data and insights from whisky fans during the festival.

They found that 100% of attendees questioned would be interested in returning to the Festival while 94% would strongly recommend the event to others.

Greg Klingaman, AnyRoad’s VP, Strategy & Field Operations EMEA, said: “We were pleased to sponsor this year’s Fife Whisky Festival which is a powerful vehicle for smaller and independent distilleries to engage directly with consumers.

“We were able to gather quantitative and qualitative feedback from a third of festival-goers which indicated just how much they enjoyed the event and many specifically mentioned how well run the festival was.”

The festival’s sponsors also praised the achievements of its founders.

Euan Duncan, from MacRoberts LLP, said: “What Karen and Justine have achieved since they launched Fife Whisky Festival is remarkable. 

“It has become a key fixture in the Scotch Whisky festival calendar and what is particularly pleasing is the diversity of attendees which demonstrates the rapidly growing appeal of Scotch Whisky to all consumers. 

“The festival heralds and celebrates the innovation and growth of the production of Scotch Whisky in Fife and provides a platform to shine the spotlight on Scotch whiskies from the other regions. 

“It has been a pleasure for us at MacRoberts to have sponsored and supported the Fife Whisky Festival from the very first festival and this has also allowed us to highlight our significant work and involvement in Scotland’s food and drink industry.”

Graeme Dempster, of Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, said: “We are delighted to continue our support for Fife Whisky Festival which was another great success this year. 

“Fife as a whisky region is flourishing and the festival helps support and promote not just the great whiskies from the region but all over the country.

“Fife Whisky Festival is an important partner for Bruce Stevenson as we have many clients who attend the festival and it’s a great way to catch up with them over a few drams. We’re looking forward to next year’s festival already.”

Louise Wallace, from ISG, said: “We have proudly sponsored Fife Whisky Festival for the last three years. 

“We work with distillers throughout Scotland to create the right spaces for them to thrive and are currently working at Rosebank and Port Ellen – bringing them back to life – as well as being a part of exciting new chapters for Eden Mill and Elixir. 

“Sponsoring this festival is a great opportunity to celebrate with the whisky community with people coming from all over the world to attend. 

“Justine and Karen are a true inspiration across the industry – the grit and determination they have to make the festival a success is fantastic and we’re looking forward to our continued partnership in 2024.”

Dates for the 2024 event will be confirmed shortly and more details about the festival can be found here – www.fifewhiskyfestival.com

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