May 192016

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards 2015. Pic (L to R)

Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards 2015.

Tourism operators who make visits to the north east of Scotland memorable and magical are being urged to step into the spotlight with the launch of the 2016 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

The awards, which are now in their fourth year and celebrate the very best of the region’s tourism offering, are now open for entry.

There are 15 different categories, recognising hotels, bars, restaurants, visitor attractions, events and individuals.

And those who are lucky enough to pick up one of the accolades will also have the honour of representing the area at the national tourism Oscars – the Scottish Thistle Awards – which next take place in 2017.

The Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards have gone from strength to strength since their inception, with the number of entries growing year on year. Awards chairman Peter Sangster says organisers are expecting another record number of submissions.

He adds,

“The fact that we are now a regional final for the Scottish Thistle Awards has added a further string to our bow and has consolidated the work we did in the initial years to get the awards off the ground.

“This means that our winners go on to represent the area in the national finals against other regional finalists from all over Scotland. I know those who travelled to the Scottish Thistle Awards earlier this year were immensely proud to represent the north east.

“I think the awards are becoming more popular because tourism businesses and individuals can really see the benefit of entering. Being shortlisted alone can help to raise their profile, and can be used as a marketing tool to show visitors that they offer a high quality experience.”

Entries will remain open until June 30, 2016 when all of the submissions will be whittled down to a shortlist in each category. Finalists will be interviewed by a judging panel, and there will also be secret judges’ visits to establishments.

Peter says,

“The end of June may seem like a long way away, but it is only a matter of weeks. We would urge people to enter now – not leave it to the last minute – and not to be shy in telling us why they deserve to win.”

The full list of awards categories is:

1.            Most Hospitable Hotel
2.            Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
3.            Best Accommodation Provider (previously Best Holiday Accommodation)
4.            Best Informal Eating Experience
5.            Best Restaurant Experience
6.            Friendliest Pub/Bar
7.            Best Cultural Event or Festival
8.            Best Sporting Event
9.            Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
10.          Working Together for Tourism
11.          Best Visitor Attraction
12.          Tourism and Hospitality Hero
13.          Innovation in Tourism Award
14.          Regional Rising Star (age -30)
15.          Regional Ambassador (age 31+)

Entry into the awards is free and can be made at The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and gala dinner at Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on November 25, 2016.

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May 192016
Danny Collie, John Lawrie Group

Danny Collie, John Lawrie Group Field Sales Representative

With thanks to Kirstin Gove, Consultant, Innes Associates.

Metal recycling, steel trading, decommissioning and environmental services company John Lawrie Group has appointed Danny Collie to the newly created role of Field Sales Representative.

Based at the company’s main office in Aberdeen’s Greenbank Road, Danny will be responsible for promoting the company’s full range of services including scrap metal collection and recycling, reuse opportunities and decommissioning to the oil and gas industry as well as service companies and the construction, agricultural and engineering industries.

Danny brings a wealth of experience to the new role having joined John Lawrie Group from Ferrier Pumps where he was responsible for maintaining client relationships across a wide range of industries including oil and gas, food and drink, marine and construction.

The 28-year-old father-of-one from Aberdeen has also worked in a technical sales capacity within the recruitment industry working on a number of roles ranging from CNC machining, design engineering, subsea and well servicing.

Having now taken up the new post, Danny has quickly become involved with John Lawrie Group’s three main divisions which provide key services to the oil and gas, construction and utility sectors. The metals division remains the largest metal recycler and exporter of processed scrap metal in the north and north east of Scotland, and handles around 200,000 tonnes of metal each year.

John Lawrie Tubulars is a leading specialist in the trading of new and reusable tubulars, casing and drillpipe around the world, while John Lawrie Decom has been processing redundant equipment and the dismantling of oilfield and industrial structures for more than 20 years.

Commenting on his new role, Danny said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining John Lawrie Group which has an enviable reputation and track record in delivering for its clients. Despite the growth of the company, it remains committed to providing the very best service and solutions to its clients.

“As one of the foremost companies of its kind in the UK, I am looking forward to helping John Lawrie Group maintain the highest standards in customer care, recycling and reuse and sustainable environmental services.”

John Lawrie Group Environmental Director, Ray Grant, said:

“Danny is a strong addition to the team at John Lawrie Group and we are delighted to welcome him to the company. With the advent of forthcoming legislative changes in metal recycling from this September, his excellent track record in securing new business and developing strong client relationships will undoubtedly be instrumental in helping us achieve our longer term growth strategy.”

Established in Aberdeen in the 1930’s as a scrap metal merchant, John Lawrie Group now offers a diverse range of industrial services including metals, tubulars and decommissioning, and has developed an enviable reputation for quality customer service. It is one of the country’s leading privately owned companies and employs a 100-strong workforce across operations in the UK, America and Europe.

For more information about John Lawrie Group, visit or telephone 01224 871844.

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May 132016

With thanks to Gemma Setter, Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Brown Sugar Cafe - courtyardA business owner who was forced to close her Ballater café after it was affected by flooding has taken the opportunity to improve access for disabled customers during its refit.

Karen Gerrie, owner of the Brown Sugar Café, is working alongside builders to install features that will make it easier for all to access the popular Bridge Street café.

It’s a case of turning a negative into a positive, and ensuring that when the flood- hit premises makes its comeback in June, it’s even better than before, with a new disabled toilet and level flooring throughout.

Despite the café undergoing a major refit, it will retain many of its familiar features which will be revealed when the premises make their comeback in mid-June.

Brown Sugar Café first opened in 2009 and was taken over by Karen in July 2011, since then it’s become a well-known hangout for residents and tourists, best known for its homemade sandwiches, soups and homebakes as well as its cosy atmosphere.

Karen stresses that her café and the wider village of Ballater have not been beaten by the floods and that there is lots of positive action to show the area is still open for business.

Brown Sugar Café will have two stalls at the Aboyne Rotary Duck Festival on Sunday May 22 when they will be selling gifts and traybakes – including their much-loved millionaire’s shortbread – to remind the public about what they do best.

After overcoming the initial shock of having to temporarily close her business, Karen focused her energy on getting the café back up and running and she admits to being overwhelmed by the  offers of help that came in from both locals and visitors.

Karen says,

“The support we received from far and wide meant a great deal to us, as it was a very dispiriting time. The staff and I all decided that we weren’t going to give in easily, as you can sit around and cry or you can pick yourself up and get on with it. We chose to get stuck in with the work, and that really kept us going.

“Since then, we’ve come a very long way and I’m just so thankful to everyone who has got in touch to let us know that we’re in their thoughts. It’s been so exciting watching all the refurbishments going on throughout Ballater and knowing that we’re another business on its way to reopening.

“There has been a real silver lining to the floods in the sense that the community has really come together. The Business Association has been great at providing information to all the businesses’ involved and there has been lots of positive communication between everyone. There’s a real community feel to it all, it’s such a great feeling to see everyone get back on track.”

Brown Sugar Café is one of a number of Ballater businesses which will be back in business for the summer. This is extremely positive news to the area, as the aftermath flooding of Storm Frank meant that many homes and businesses had to be evacuated back in December.

Richard Watts of Ballater Business Association says,

“To see another business on track to reopen in the next month is such a boost for the whole of Ballater. Everyone has worked extremely hard to ensure that the village remains open for residents, as well as the many tourists which visit throughout the year.

“We’re really pleased that Brown Sugar Café will be back up and running again very soon, and it’s fantastic that improvements are being made that will make the café more wheelchair friendly.”


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Apr 222016

BrewDog-AGM-1With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

The AGM of irreverent Scottish brewery, BrewDog, was held at the AECC in Aberdeen this weekend.

6,000 beer fans savoured beers from the world’s leading craft breweries at the day-long event.

The meeting gave young founders James Watt and Martin Dickie a platform to unleash five new brews, and propagate their derision of big industrial beer companies Diageo and AB InBev by announcing an official change in their constitution, entrenching the brewery’s independence by passing a motion to ensure that BrewDog can ‘never be sold to a monolithic purveyor of industrial beer’.

The recently reported 2015 financial results from the craft brewery (an extract from which is included below) propelled it to number 10 in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 companies, with a 3-year annual profit growth of 120%.

BrewDog reported a revenue increase of 51% to £44.7m in 2015, and a gross profit increase of 48% to £17m. Sales in the UK surged by 131%, making BrewDog the number one craft brewery in the UK.

Crowdfunding over the AGM weekend drew more than £600,000, tipping the total over £16m with one week still to go of Equity For Punks IV.

The 40,000-strong army of shareholders will be funding the building of a bigger brewery in Ellon, which will increase capacity fivefold, as well as launching BrewDog’s US brewery in Columbus, Ohio.


James Watt at BrewDog AGM

BrewDog is investing over $30m to build its brand new brewery Stateside to help meet the demand for BrewDog beers in America.

With a focus on expansion, BrewDog has also set its sights on new UK sites along with international ambitions.

Cathedrals of craft will be popping up in Norwich (set to launch this week), Southampton and York in the next couple of months alone.

BrewDog has raised more money through equity crowdfunding than any other company on record, and is famous for its boundary-pushing stunts to further the craft beer revolution. This latest round has raised £16m to date. And closes at 11am on 20th April 2016.

James Watt, company co-founder with Martin Dickie, commented:

“The BrewDog AGM 2016 was off the charts – we introduced our loyal punks to some amazing new beers, we shared our plans for world domination, and we made it an official part of our constitution that BrewDog will never sell out.

“We’ve got so much happening in the year ahead, we’re taking the craft beer revolution across the Atlantic, we’re cementing the craft uprising in Europe, and we’re branching out into spirits and sour beer from our Ellon HQ. And it’s all thanks to our 40,000 shareholders, which is why we put on such a massive music filled, beer-fuelled AGM for them – the biggest in the UK, and definitely the wildest.”

Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly was on hand; she added:

“Watching this company grow from two guys on the Belmont Street Farmer’s Market to the UK’s fastest-growing private company, soon to start production in the USA, has been a pleasure to witness.  It was always clear to me that Watt and Dickie loved what they were doing from day one, and I expected big things. No one really could have expected this big. 

“This year’s AGM sees fellow shareholders come together from all over the world to celebrate beer and great growth. Having the UK Subs as the final act on a great musical programme didn’t hurt either. Thanks BrewDog for a great day and for introducing me to Swedish Death Candy – what a band!”

More information on BrewDog can be found at

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Mar 242016

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

Pery Zakeri 1Plans for a brand new festival that will bring Speyside’s whisky producers together under one roof for the first time were highlighted at a major tourism conference on Wednesday.
Organisers of the world-class Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival outlined their proposals for the event to delegates attending the Moray Speyside Tourism Summit.

Festival manager Pery Zakeri (pictured) said the three-day event taking place in the area’s capital town of Elgin from September 9 – 11 would deliver a boost to tourism businesses, bringing more visitors into the area at a time when the traditional summer season is drawing to a close.

The new event will feature up to 28 different whisky distillers from the region, along with local beers and gin and a wide range of food producers. There will also be a whisky retail shop organised by renowned specialist outlet, The Whisky Shop Dufftown.

Visitors will buy a ticket to attend one of four different sessions over the course of the weekend. Entry to each session will be limited to just 300 people, and demand is expected to be high when tickets go on sale later this year.

Festival manager Pery Zakeri told delegates at the conference,

“This is a brand new weekend for Moray Speyside and we are hoping to attract a new, younger audience that will be different to the audience we attract to the May festival.

“We are looking to draw in people from Inverness, Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland and the UK, and while there might be an international audience, it will have more of a local focus in the initial years.

“It’s a unique event that will drive tourism to the region, and one that will add to the local events calendar and whisky events calendar.”

Although different whisky brands have been working together as part of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for almost two decades, all of the activities for the that event tend to take place in their own distilleries.

This will be the first time that the area’s distillers will come together on their own doorstep under one roof. Elgin Town Hall has been selected as the location because it is the central point in Moray Speyside with good transport connections for road and rail, delegates at the Alexander Graham Bell Centre in Elgin were told.

Organisers believe the smaller, centrally located event will appeal to those who want to enjoy and learn more about Speyside’s whisky but do not want to plan a five-day itinerary for a major event like the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

It comprises over 400 different events from distillery tours and tastings and from ceilidhs to comedy, and events are staged everywhere from Kingussie in the south to Forres in the west and Buckie in the east. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from April 28 to May 2.

Commenting on what the new event will offer, Pery told the conference,

“There will be world class whiskies, local gin and craft beers and of course a range of food producers. But the main thing will be the chance to meet Speyside’s whisky stars in one place at the same time.”

Tickets for the September festival are expected to go on sale in June this year and will be available at

Dec 112015

Porter's bottleWith thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix

The first bottles of gin to be distilled in Aberdeen for over 100 years are now hitting the shelves.
There is a rich history of whisky distillation around the city and shire, and a UK-wide gin boom, but there were previously no gin brands from the Granite City.

Porter’s was created by a team of licensed trade professionals Ben Iravani, Josh Rennie and Alex Lawrence, and named after Professor Andrew Porter from Aberdeen University, who sourced their distillation equipment.

In spite of being Aberdeen’s only gin in living memory, the team are quick to understate this claim to fame. Multi award-winning bartender, Alex, said:

“We are delighted to be playing such a big part in gin’s revival in the north-east, however it is our story and distillation technique that really make Porter’s unique.

“Gin is so important to bartenders across the world as a key component for cocktails, yet most brands were produced by large companies or family distillers. Porter’s is one of the few brands that was created by bartenders for bars.”

With bottles now available to pre-order from the first batch, the flavoursome spirit features aromatic and citrus notes which the trio are confident will win over traditional gin connoisseurs as well as those less inclined towards the juniper-based tipple.

The unique flavour profile comes from a fusion of traditional and modern distillation techniques. The equipment procured by Professor Porter, which is known as a rotary evaporator, allows botanicals to be “vacuum-distilled” at low temperatures. Through hundreds of small scale distillations and experiments with botanicals, the team discovered that this process extracts light refreshing flavours that cannot be produced in a traditional copper still.

The traditional component of the gin adds depth and balance to the flavour, and is created in partnership with a Warrington distillery that has been operating for over 250 years.

Ben, managing director at Langstane Liquor Company, said:

“Our whole production method is based on creating a unique but bold flavour for mixing drinks, and we put a lot of hard work into balancing the modern and traditional elements of the gin. We also use only 100% British grain wheat alcohol and certified ethically sourced botanicals. This all results in a world class product.

“The anticipation for Porter’s has been fantastic and we have been delighted to receive order requests already. Our first batch will consist of around 3,300 bottles which we are sure will go quickly. We have been in talks with a number of retailers both local and national, so there will be a number of different options for people wishing to try it out.”

Orchid and Ninety-Nine Bar and Kitchen in Aberdeen are owned by the sister company Monkey Bars Ltd and the group plan to sell Porter’s within their cocktail bars.

For more information or to pre-order a bottle please contact or visit

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Nov 262015

Alex Grahame Wins Cullen Skink championshipfeatWith thanks to Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus:Mix.

A north-east chef and restaurant owner’s Cullen Skink with a twist has been crowned as the best in the world.

Alex Grahame, co-owner of Hornblower’s seafood restaurant and takeaway in Gourdon, scooped the title after impressing judges with his own unique take on the traditional dish at yesterday’s (Sunday, November 22) Cullen Skink World Championships at the Cullen Bay Hotel.

Coming out on top in a five-way cook-off, Alex’s recipe, entitled ‘The Bon Accord’, was praised for its texture, flavour, colour and appearance with a unique French twist – a dash of Noilly Prat – helping convince judges it was a winner.

Alex’s recipe is influenced by his own French cooking training and his wife Ruth’s Aberdonian heritage, with the addition of the Noilly Prat paying homage to the area of France that the pair were married in.

The popular competition is in its second year and is organised by the Cullen Bay Hotel and the Cullen Voluntary Tourist Initiative. A traditional Cullen Skink competition was also held on the day.

Alex Grahame said:

“To have my take on Cullen Skink recognised in this way is a fantastic feeling and I’m thrilled to have been crowned as a world champion; I never once imagined when I started cooking that I’d be able to say something like that!

“The competition itself was an intense, full-on hour as there is so much to do in such a tight time frame. The other five versions of Cullen Skink looked fantastic, with some unique recipes being used so I’m delighted to have come out top.

“Cullen Skink is an important dish here in Scotland and it is loved by many throughout the world so there is always pressure when cooking it. We’ve had it on the menu at Hornblower’s for some time now, so I’ve had plenty practice; it’s always been a favourite with our loyal customer base.

“From a personal point of view, the competition itself was a fantastic event and I can’t stress enough just how great it has been to be involved with. This sort of competition is exactly what the food scene here in the north-east needs and it has been a perfect way of shining the spotlight on one of the nation’s most-loved and revered dishes.”

For more information on Hornblower’s seafood restaurant and takeaway, please visit its dedicated social media channels or

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Nov 162015

Alex Grahame3With thanks to Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus Mix.

A north-east chef and restaurant owner will battle it out this month to have his Cullen Skink crowned as the best in the world.

Alex Grahame, co-owner of Hornblower’s seafood restaurant and takeaway in Gourdon, has been shortlisted for the final of the Cullen Skink World Championships which will take place at the Cullen Bay Hotel on Sunday, November 22.

A finalist in the Cullen Skink with a twist competition, Alex will attempt to wow judges using his own unique recipe at the event organised by the Cullen Bay Hotel and the Cullen Voluntary Tourist Initiative.

Entitled ‘The Bon Accord’, Alex’s recipe is influenced by his French cooking training and is an ode to his wife Ruth’s Aberdonian heritage. His recipe also includes a unique, French twist, which pays homage to the area of France that the pair were married in.

Six finalists will take part in the live cook-off with dishes of the Scottish soup judged on texture, flavour, colour and appearance. A traditional Cullen Skink competition will also be held at the event.

Cullen Skink is one of Scotland’s most traditional starter dishes and is a thick, creamy soup regularly made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. As the name suggests, its origins are located in the north-east town of Cullen but its popularity has grown in recent years and is currently enjoyed in countries all across the world.

Alex Grahame, co-owner of Hornblower’s seafood restaurant and takeaway, said:

“Being a seafood restaurant, Cullen Skink has made regular appearances on the Hornblower’s menu for a number of years now and I’m delighted to have made the final six for the upcoming World Championship cook-off.

“Cullen Skink is one of Scotland’s signature dishes and it is important to do it justice every time it is made. Every dish that we serve at Hornblower’s is done so with love, care and attention to detail and our Cullen Skink is no different.

“My recipe follows aspects of the traditional Cullen Skink recipe but I’ve got a few things up my sleeve that will hopefully help it to stand out and make it a bit different to the norm, including haddock smoked in the traditional way here in Gourdon. Competitions like these are great for shining the spotlight on the north-east’s burgeoning food and drinks industry and I’m looking forward representing Hornblower’s at what is shaping up to be a fantastic event.”

Hornblower’s customers will be able to taste Alex’s take on Cullen Skink in the run-up to the final cook-off itself, with free tasters now available from its Gourdon premises.

More information on Hornblower’s

Hornblower’s in Gourdon, which specialises in locally-sourced seasonal food with an emphasis on seafood, was opened in 2010 by Alex and Ruth Grahame.

Renowned for its fresh produce, the restaurant and takeaway has built up a reputation for showcasing the best that Scotland has to offer from both sea and field. Committed to 100% Scottish sourcing for all of its fish and meat, the restaurant receives daily fresh deliveries of fish from either Gourdon or Peterhead harbour.

It has also received critical acclaim, most recently scooping the 2015 Best Chippy Chips in Scotland award from the National Potato Council. It was also awarded with a VisitScotland Thistle Award for best informal dining experience in the north-east and Tayside in 2014.

The restaurant has also announced plans to take over the lease for the site of the former Jimmy Chungs and TC Fish restaurant at Aberdeen Beach.

The proposal, which has recently achieved planning permission, includes a two-storey 16,000 sq ft restaurant facing the sea front with terraces on the first floor and a heated outdoor sitting area on the ground floor. A 650 sq ft takeaway, a 2,500 sq ft ice cream parlour along with two other restaurants, including The Pier Bistro is also part of the plans.

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Oct 152015

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Food and Fiddle Fortnight 2015 - world premier served up

Perfect accompaniment: Final week of Food and Fiddle Fortnight to serve up world public premiere of historic royal tune

Royal Deeside’s Food and Fiddle Fortnight will reach a crescendo this weekend with a number of musical performances, one of which will be a world public premiere.

On the final day of the two-week festival, members of the pipes and drums of The Royal Highland Fusiliers 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS) will perform the first public recital of the new pipe tune ‘The Longest Reign’.

The tune, a march, has been composed by Pipe Major of 2 SCOTS Stuart Gillies to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history.

The historic recital of the tune will take place at a free to attend event at Deeside Activity Park near Aboyne on Sunday, 18 October at 2:00pm, and will be one of the final events of Food and Fiddle Fortnight. The pipe band’s performance will also feature a medley of other traditional tunes.

Pipe Major Gillies composed the vibrant tune at the request of 2 SCOTS company commander Major Alastair Colville. ‘The Longest Reign’ marks the date – Wednesday, 09 September 2015 – that Her Majesty surpassed the milestone which her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria had previously held. It was played for her at Balmoral Castle on that date.

The Royal Highland Fusiliers have been on Royal Guard duties on Royal Deeside for the past three months and presented Her Majesty with a copy of tune at the end of her annual summer stay. Sunday’s performance at Deeside Activity Park will be one of the final engagements that the fusiliers will carry out on Royal Deeside before returning to their barracks in Edinburgh next week.

A video of two pipers from the band performing the tune high on the hills above Ballater has been viewed nearly 80,000 times on the regiment’s Facebook page.

Organised by Visit Royal Deeside, Food and Fiddle Fortnight is an annual celebration of the area’s culinary and cultural talents and heritage.  The two-week festival draws to a close on Sunday evening, by which time more than 60 events will have been held at venues across Deeside and Donside, bringing together local food producers, businesses and musicians.

Highlights of the coming week’s programme include special daytime events and musical evenings at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch. There are live traditional music sessions at the Aberdeen Arms, Tarland, on Tuesday, 13 October and the Deeside Inn, Ballater, on Saturday, 17 October.

For walkers and those keen to learn more about the Cambus O’ May area there is a guided walk led by local historian Ian Murray on Saturday, 17 October. The walk will be punctuated with live fiddle music from Paul Anderson. Participants will then enjoy more music and a two-course dinner at Ballater’s Riverside Cottage Cafe.

The fortnight-long celebration will draw to a close with a concert performed by the Rua Macmillan Duo at the Woodend Barn, Banchory, on Sunday, 18 October. Award winning Scottish fiddler Rua Macmillan will be joined by pianist Suzanne Houston, with the duo performing a range of music from across Scotland and further afield.

Moira Gash, Visit Royal Deeside project co-ordinator, said:

“The Longest Reign is a wonderful piece of music and a fantastic way to commemorate Her Majesty’s achievement. It is very fitting that the world public premiere of the tune will take place on Royal Deeside, an area held in great affection by The Queen and her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, the length of whose reign she surpassed.

“There are a number of great events still ahead this week which will appeal to all ages, especially with the school holidays starting. We are very pleased that 2 SCOTS have agreed to perform for us on Sunday afternoon at Deeside Activity Park. It is a fitting way to help bring the 2015 Food and Fiddle Fortnight to a close and also mark the end of the battalion’s time on Royal Deeside.”

To inspire visitors to explore the local area even further during Food and Fiddle Fortnight, Visit Royal Deeside has put together an A to Z of things to do and places to visit. The list highlights some of the more unusual activities on offer, including lessons in tractor driving, gliding and driving a train on part of the old Deeside line.

Food and Fiddle Fortnight takes place in venues across Royal Deeside until Sunday, 18 October. A full programme is available at or by searching for Food and Fiddle Fortnight on Facebook.

Visit Royal Deeside is the destination management organisation established in 2005 to promote Royal Deeside, Donside and the eastern Cairngorms. The organisation works with over 100 locals businesses to enhance the quality and variety of visitor products and services, providing effective training and support where necessary.

It aims to grow tourism in the area for the benefit of locals and ensure visitors have the best possible experience to encourage return visits and recommendations to family and friends. More information is available at

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Oct 152015

With thanks to Graeme Forbes, Account Manager, Tricker PR

SOSWF Whisky 1

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has become one of the leading events of its kind over the past 17 years

Speyside’s leading malt whisky producers will unite on their own doorstep for the first time – to launch a brand new ‘dramfest’ organised by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Brand rivalries will be put to one side when Spirit of Speyside brings distillers from all over the region together under one roof in celebration of the area’s most famed product – malt whisky.

Plans for the first event – to take place in September 2016 – were unveiled at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival AGM on Tuesday.

It will offer an alternative weekend devoted to Speyside whisky in its home and heartland and complementing the internationally-renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival held annually in May.

The September whisky weekend is being introduced to sate the public’s thirst for whisky-themed events in the area that is home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries.

Elgin has been chosen as the central location for this Speyside showcase, which as well as whisky, will feature other drinks – including local gin and craft beer – along with fine food and produce from the region.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has become one of the leading events of its kind over the past 17 years. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world to Speyside during the May Day weekend to savour a selection of more than 400 events, from tastings to ceilidhs, food pairings to comedy.

Many events are sold out within hours of tickets going on sale and accommodation in the region reaches capacity. Festival organisers could see scope to introduce a second – but distinctive – event to its annual calendar, which will allow people to celebrate Scotland’s national drink in its spiritual home without the need to plan a five-day itinerary.

The event will be held from September 9-11, 2016 at Elgin Town Hall, drawing visitors after the summer season and helping provide an economic boost for the area.

As well as tastings, cocktail making, a food court, and masterclasses will be part of the offering. Distilleries, businesses and partners will be encouraged to develop themes to add to the visitor experience.

Festival chairman James Campbell says,

“Our annual whisky festival has grown in size and stature to become one of the leading events of its kind in the world.

“We are now creating a brand new weekend event with the big difference that the distilleries will be together, under one roof, and that’s something that doesn’t normally happen on their home territory.

“We’ve chosen Elgin for the venue because it is central, with good transport links, and we’ll be encouraging businesses and other partners to get involved too. Further announcements on what people can expect from the new event, including its official title, will be made in the coming weeks and months.

“This is a great opportunity for distilleries and food and drink producers of Speyside to showcase their products and share what they do.

“While the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has an international audience, and overseas visitors may be among the contingent, we expect our September event to have a particular appeal to the home market, including people from the local area.

“We look forward to developing our plans and helping keep one of Scotland’s most famous whisky producing regions well and truly on the map, inspiring more visitors to develop their interest and knowledge of our national tipple.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival’s position as a major tourism attraction in Scotland was underlined again this year when it attracted 26,389 visits to events from a record 34 different countries.

The 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – and its traditional musical arm the Spirit of Speyside Sessions – takes place from April 28 to May 2. For further information about the event visit with tickets on sale from January 2015.

The Festival is also active on social media – and @spirit_speyside on Twitter.

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