Rough Guide to Homecoming Scotland 2009

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The excuse for Homecoming Scotland 2009 is to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth and showcase Scotland’s greatest contributions to the world. We contributed a lot!

The real aim is to create a buzz around Scotland, have a point to market this destination around and, ultimately, improve this summer’s visitor numbers (a nose-dive last year). Are we offended by them trying to trick us and you? Not really. They are not even trying very hard. Let’s just enjoy what comes with it.

You should definitely take a look at their website. But one warning, there is a lot of marketing gumph there. It’s taken a fair bit of reading to find out which of the promoted events are genuinely exclusive, and which just quickly changed their name from ‘Our Standard Tour’ to ‘Our Special Fantastic Homecoming Tour’.

Surely you can guess which part of Homecoming Lucas and I are interested in the most. Yup, you guessed it right. The Whisky Month!

Whisky Month

Whisky month of the Homecoming is May. In this month Scotland is going to go whisky crazy (more than normal). Here is what I dug up for you.

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Spirit of Speyside Festival: A festival celebrating the food, culture and most importantly, the Whisky that comes from this famous region. The Festival is celebrating its 10 year anniversary and will be putting on a suitably large fireworks display apparently. With over 50 distilleries in Speyside, well worth the visit.

Date: May 1 – May 10

Location: All over Speyside

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Glenfarclas Distillery Celebrations: The programme includes tutoured tastings, tours with special tastings from Family Casks, Glenfarclas Dinner, Charity Night Race, hill-walk to the distillery’s water source and many others.

Date: May 1 – May 10

Location: Glenfarclas Distillery, Speyside

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From the Vaults: Whisky and the Scots: On at West Register House, this exhibition has several key treasures that document whisky in Scotland including: the first mention of Whisky in Scotland and memorabilia of the Robert Burns’ time as an excise man. For those interested in history, not to be missed.

Date: May 7 – June 26

Location: West Register House, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh

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Whisky Galore (musical): The classic true story of the ship the SS Cabinet Minister running aground on a tiny Hebridean Island and dropping 50,000 cases of Whisky. This is being run at the Pitlochry Festival theatre. A good excuse to visit Edradour, although you don’t really need an excuse.

Date: May 15 – Oct 17

Location: Pitlochry

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Spirit of the West: Held at Inverary Castle, Argyle, this 2 day festival highlights the culture, food and music associated with the West of Scotland. 16 distilleries will be involved, doing tasting master-classes. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers will be playing and Nick Nairn will be there too.

Date:May16 – May 17

Location: Inverary Castle, Argyle

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Feis Ile-Islay Malt and Music Festival: I think this is the one I am most excited about. All of the distilleries will be putting on their own events. Special Whisky releases, music events, good food and the two of us will be there as well! And don’t forget Jura. Amazing!

Location: Isle of Islay and Jura

Date: May 23 – May 31

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The unveiling of the Diageo Claive Vidiz collection ( the biggest collection of Whisky bottlings in the world)

Location: Scotch Whisky Experience, Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Date: Not certain

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Glenmorangie: Extended Tours and Tastings

The distillery is currently closed to tours and is due to re-open in April, just in time for Homecoming (what are the odds?)

Location: Glenmorangie Distillery, North of Inverness, Half a mile from Tain.

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Famous Grouse Experience: Warehouse No 9

Specially for Whisky month. After your tour around the Famous Grouse experience, you will be taken into Warehouse no 9 to taste several Whiskies from their collection from a 10 year old through to a 30 year old.

Location: Famous Grouse Experience, Crieff

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Exclusive Tours: Dufftown, Mortlach and Glendullan

Not normally open for the public. Highly recommend buying a bottle in each, because they tend to be a bit rarer than your normal tipple.

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Whiski Bar: Ardbeg Tasting

I have added this because, I admit, I am quite excited to taste Ardbeg Supernova

ARDBEG WHISKY TASTING featuring Supernova is the first event planned at the WHISKI bar for Homecoming Scotland’s Whisky Month.

See http://www.whiskibar.co.uk/Ardbeg.html for more details and to book online.

Location: Whiski Bar, Royal Mile, Edinburgh

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Now after all that, I would have thought you would have been all whiskied out. If not, there are events on during the year

Whisky Week: Not only is there a Whisky Month, there is also a Whisky Week in September (Chris scratches his head). It’s a series of Whisky gala dinners followed by Whisky Live. If you can make it to every dinner and then on to Whisky Live, you are some sort of a hero. Check out www.whiskymag.com for dates.

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Classic Malts Cruise: Sailors from around the world come to take part in this cruise. Oban to Talisker and then back south to Lagavulin. Avast me hearties (Chris has been staring at the Homecoming website for too long).

Date: July 11 – July 25

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The Talisker Taste Experience: On the 25th and 26th of July, there is going to be the ‘biggest clan gathering’ since we tried to invade England (it may happen again) There will be Highland games and Talisker will be doing a tasting. Expect Tartan, Claymores and the occasional shout of FREEDOM!

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Sounds awesome? Definitely book some tickets and get involved!

Chris

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