The Spirit of Speyside Festival has announced the winners of its Whisky Awards. Almost 350 votes were cast by festival attendees, marking the only whisky awards where the winners are decided by the whisky-drinking public themselves.
The winner of the 12-year-old and under category was Benriach 12 year old Sherry Wood, while the title for malts aged 13 to 20 years went to Balvenie 15 year old Single Cask.
In the 21-year-old category Cardhu 21 year old topped the poll, while the section for distillery special editions went to Tamdhu 10 year old Limited Edition.
Penny Ellis, a director of the Spirit of Speyside Festival and organiser of the awards, says, “These malts join a long and illustrious list of previous winners. 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 or external influences.”
The Festival also honoured three whisky ambassadors for their outstanding contributions to the event and the wider whisky industry. Pennie Ellis, owner of the Knockomie Hotel in Forres, was presented with the Ambassador of the Year award for her efforts in promoting the festival over the last five years. Penny is stepping down as a director of the festival this year.
Husband and wife duo Frank and Jacqui Scott, from New Brunswick, Canada, were announced as two International Ambassadors. The couple are the founders of The New Brunswick Whisky Festival, and are credited with raising the profile of whisky to the point where New Brunswick has become an international whisky destination.
Festival chairman James Campbell says, “Our ambassadors this year can be credited with introducing people to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and importantly, the passion that is behind it. They have all been successful in introducing Scotland’s national drink to a new and global audience, and we’re honoured to reward the hard work that they have done for both the Festival and the wider industry.
“Penny is as passionate about Speyside as she is about whisky, and her input over the last five years has helped to propel the Festival into one of the leading events of its kind anywhere in the world. We wanted to present her with this award to show our appreciation for the incredibly impact she has made.
“Frank and Jacqui and great friends of the Festival and have done a power of work over the years in promoting it across the Atlantic. Thanks to them, dozens of people have been introduced to the Festival and I am sure their work has greatly influenced the fact that Canada is now one of our fastest-growing markets. We are proud to call them our friends.”