Scottish National Whisky Festival returns to Glasgow with a diverse range of exhibitors

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“There’s people of all ages and backgrounds at our event and they’re done in a way that you can come and drink whisky for the first time. They’re not intimidating in the slightest.”

As part of this year’s Celtic Connections currently taking place across Glasgow, the Scottish National Whisky Festival is due to open this Saturday, 27 January throughout Finnieston’s SWG3. In what will be the event’s first edition of 2024, attendees will have the opportunity learn about the modern world of Scotch whisky directly from exhibitors against a backdrop of live music. 

While the festival is a significant date in the calendar of local enthusiasts, the organisers have emphasised there are parts of the experience specifically designed for beginners offering guidance to those wishing to begin their journey. 

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There will be “hundreds of whiskies and other spirits available” for attendees to sample “from delicate and approachable drams to peat-powered favourites” including “well known core releases to brand new hard to find editions”. 

Speaking to event co-ordinator Gareth Croll, he said: “It’s come a long way the industry as we know it. Our festival, we certainly showcase a lot of brands and distilleries and producers that you might not have heard before it, who are new to the scene and we’re known for it. You don’t see a lot of the brands that you might recognise from your local supermarket and I think that’s why quite a lot of people come, that’s why they enjoy our events. It’s an opportunity to sample the lengths and breadths of the modern whisky world. It’s a really exciting time for it. 

“For many reasons it’s a really exciting time to celebrate whisky. There’s obviously the historical element, originating in Scottish and Celtic culture. It’s loved worldwide as a premium product, it brings in around £7.1 billion for the UK economy every year, the Scottish whisky industry. It really speaks to a lot of people because it’s a delicate spirit, people have a connection to it, everyone grew up next to a distillery, everyone’s got somebody in the family who maybe used to work in the whisky industry and it’s something to be proud of. Every country has their national drink and it’s something you need to celebrate and cherish. 

“Entering into Scotch whisky can be quite daunting at first - knowing what to go to, what to drink, what it’s even all about because there’s quite a diverse range. For me it would all be about communication. Quite a lot of people get put off of whisky because they’re presented to it in the wrong way initially and that’s what we specialise in, we’re all about teaching people. 

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“I would recommend to anyone that’s looking to get into whisky to head to your local whisky bar and start chatting to the bar tender and they will be able to guide you and teach you step-by-step. Or you could enter into one of our festivals which are done in a modern innovative way. They’re not traditional, they’re not what you might imagine whisky festivals to be, they’re designed to show off the diversity to consumers. There’s people of all ages and backgrounds at our event and they’re done in a way that you can come and drink whisky for the first time. They’re not intimidating in the slightest, they’re not for super advanced individuals, it’s for people that are curious consumers and might be looking to try something new and find out that there is a lot of likeminded people out there. 

When questioned on the link between the Scottish music industry and the whisky industry, he said: “We take the festival from a Celtic element. Celtic culture exists worldwide and the two have always had a very strong relationship. Whisky’s influence on wider music culture today - it supports the artists, you see so many musicians who have their own whiskies. A lot of festivals and gigs are supported by sponsorship from large whisky brands and bar sales from larger drinks brands. We think they go hand-in-hand together one hundred percent. They support each other in Scotland and  internationally, that’s undeniable from a commercial perspective. 

“And then there’s also the romantic side of it - if two things speak for Scotland, traditional Celtic music and Scottish whisky, then they really back each other up.” 

The event is split between an afternoon and evening session, and tickets can be purchased here

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