SMWS ambassador Hans Offringa packs two tastings and a four-course dinner paired with Society whiskies into an unforgettable day at the Spirit of Speyside festival at the Craigellachie Hotel

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Friday proves to be a busy day for the SMWS at the Spirit of Speyside Festival at our base at our partner bar, The Quaich at the Craigellachie Hotel.

At 2pm I host our first tasting session. The crowd is, as is understandable with the SMWS, cosmopolitan, with a healthy mix of members and ‘not-members yet’. They come from as far afield as Norway, Texas and Charleston in the United States, Paris and, well, not so far – just along the road in Aberdeen.

Boxed up and ready to go, the Society's special festival bottlings.

In the line-up are two of the Society’s special celebratory festival bottlings – a wonderfully full and sherried Speyside, Cask No. 107.13: Andalusian gazpacho, and a coastal and slightly briny Cask No. 10.141: Indulgence by the sea from Islay.

Both regions have their superfans, as the Society has been discovering, in its battle between the Craigellachie Crusader and the Islay Avenger. I’m not saying which camp I fall into…but you can make your own voice heard on the Society’s Festival Fever events page.

A mouth-watering line-up of celebratory festival bottlings from the SMWS.

The tasting segues into the official launch of the festival bottlings in the Quaich Bar, which is soon filled with people eager to purchase a bottle. We manage to convert quite a few non-members into joining the Society, while making them ‘an offer you can’t refuse’, Godfather-style. No, just kidding.

The third part of the SMWS day at the Craig is a four-course dinner. I love doing these dinners and get the ‘craic’ going. It takes not even 15 minutes before all guests are chatting away happily – some in broken English, some in broken French, German and the occasional accent from much further afield.

And that is what the Society is about – whisky, and maybe SMWS bottlings in particular, are the best social lubricant in the world. No other drink has so much history, so much to tell, behind each and any bottling, style or preference.

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We enjoy the dinner with the same bottlings we used for the tasting in the afternoon and are served four sumptuous courses with scallops, then beef, followed by lobster and ending with an attractively ‘deconstructed’ trifle.

After dinner drinks were served in the Quaich Bar until – well, let’s just say: until!

The Society’s festival fun continues on Islay, with events kicking off on 25 May. See here to find out what’s going on.