In diesem Jahr findet in der ersten Maiwoche das Spirit of Speyside Festival statt – wir haben ja Anfang des Jahres bereits darüber berichtet. Interessant an dem Festival ist auch, dass die Jury-Tastings für die Prämierung der besten Whiskys der Region auf Initiative aus Deutschland international stattfinden – darunter auch in Köln (wir berichteten hier).
Im Rahmen dieses Fan-Tastings führte Robin D. Strippel im Namen des Veranstalters auch ein kurzes Interview mit dem Chairman des Festivals, James Campbell, und stellte dieses englischsprachige Interview im Rahmen einer Presseaussendung zur Verfügung – gemeinsam mit einigen Bildern der Verkostung in Köln. Wir bringen das Gespräch über das Festival und den Whiskymarkt im Allgemeinen sowie die Bilder hier für Sie:
Spirit of Speyside Festival – Interview mit Chairman James Campbell
Q: Let‘s begin with the elephant in the room, how big will the impact of the Brext be on the Whisky Industry? Will we just see minor price increases or is there more to come, tourism, etc.?
James Campbell: We don‘t know how it will go yet but the distilleries will have some plans ready for months if not more. The World Trade Organization still isn‘t really aware of the big problem the whole whisky industry is facing in these uncertain times. We trade with 180 to 200 markets around the world and of course want to see at least a Brexit-deal done, if the EU would give us 1 or 2 more years we would probably stay in in my opinion.
Q: Are there any interesting changes or new events concerning the Speyside Festival this year?
James Campbell: As a matter of fact we just today announced a new gin festival, as you probably know the gin sector is a more and more important part of the Speyside portfolio and it‘s not only whisky distilleries making gin but seperate, independant companies. The event will be hosted from 12th to 14th July at a scottish castle, the Gorden Castle Walled Garden, there will be gin tastings of course, cocktails and much more. In addition to that, during the Speyside Festival there will be a gin event in every town on friday and sunday.
In general: We had around 500 events the last time during the whole festival, this time we have over 600 with one more day added to the festival calendar.
Q: What are your longterm plans & goals concerning the festival, even more international tastings, more locations in Scotland for events?
James Campbell: Well this time it‘s our 20th anniversary, 20 years ago on the first events we had a lot of towns with empty hotels and now everybody is just so busy during the Festival, it‘s great. We will have more than a thousand votes abroad this time, we want to expand this even more with some new countries joining in and we want to build upon this solid base we developed the last 20 years.
Q: Which distillery tours in the Speyside would you recommend the most for visitors?
James Campbell: To be honest, not even naming any particular distillery, what i would recommend to anyone even remotely interested in good whisky is to choose any tour in the Speyside hosted by the master distiller himself. These guys have 30 to 50 years of experience, they love to share some of that in these tours every single time and sometimes they are hiding a nice little cask somewhere and will share some of that too on this special occasion. You talk and maybe dine and after that tour and experience you are friends, you have a relationship, it‘s beautiful.
Q: Are there any interesting statistics you get from the tastings, how different are the whisky tastes in New York, Amsterdam or Cologne?
James Campbell: We don‘t save or share very detailed statistics but for example last year the „21 or older“-category was won by just 3 votes total. Canada chose a different one than Cologne that year and in the end every subtle difference changes the outcome.
Q: Some analysts say the peak of the whisky boom is reached by now, what do you think will be the developement in the next 5-10 years with all the new distilleries and even lost distilleries being build and rebuild?
James Campbell: Yes, every major distillery and a some of the smaller ones invested a lot into the future, their processes and more. They are thinking 10 to 20 years ahead, stock management is more important the last years than ever before and this will help them with any smaller problems during the next years. I think the longterm trend is still showing a slight positive curve, maybe with some bumps but overall going more upwards. There is a slight reduction of the pace, in the market as well as within the distilleries, you won‘t have 5 to 10 new distilleries opening or being build again every year.