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Taste Of Scotland Arrives in NB

Taste of Scotland arrives in New Brunswick for first Canadian judging session in major Scotch whisky awards

A specialist whisky bar in New Brunswick will make history later this month when it holds Canada’s first ever judging session of a prestigious Scotch whisky awards contest. The Lunar Rogue in Fredericton will invite customers to cast their votes in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky Awards – the first time that votes have been cast outside Scotland in a brand new series of international judging sessions.

The unique event will be hosted by Frank Scott – co-owner and general manager of the popular pub and his wife Jackie, both long-time friends of the Festival. The couple have travelled to Scotland to visit all but one Festival in the 18 years the event has been running.

Organisers of the Festival, which takes place in the spiritual home of Scotland’s malt whisky industry, were so impressed by their support that they awarded the couple the title of International Ambassadors of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in 2014.

Frank says he is honoured to be asked to stage the first ever judging session for the Festival’s whisky awards on Canadian soil. He adds, "To be the first to be asked to host a nosing and tasting challenge on behalf of the Festival has been, deeply and truly, a wonderful honour.

"Jackie and I are both very humbled. The Spirit of Speyside Festival is the best whisky festival in the world. Period. It is the true heart of the whisky world.

"The people of Speyside make the Festival the best bar none. The people we have met over the years are warm, friendly and passionate and openly share their knowledge and passion of all things whisky. We have also met whisky fans who have become friends from other from all over the globe who share in our thirst for knowledge of the Speyside dram.

"The hospitality extended to us over the years has made Speyside feel like our home away from home. We cannot wait to arrive each year and renew friendships we have come to treasure."

Whisky fans who visit the Lunar Rogue to take part in the judging on Sunday, March 26 will be invited to sample eight different single malt Speyside whiskies and place a vote for their favourite dram in four different age categories. But they will have to cast their vote on taste and aroma alone - they will not know which whisky is in their glass until after all the votes have been counted.

The votes cast at the Lunar Rogue on March 26 will be added to those recorded during international judging sessions in Germany and the Netherlands as well as the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which takes place from April 27 to May 1. The organisers also hope to stage similar events in New York and Stockholm.

The Festival is one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. It comprises almost 500 events over five days in the Speyside region in the north east of Scotland - an area that is home to dozens of internationally renowned Scotch whisky brands and over half of all Scotland’s whisky distilleries.

The awards are a very important part of the Festival. It is one of very few awards in the world where the votes are cast by whisky drinkers and not a panel of experts, so to win one of the titles is considered a huge honour.

Organisers wanted to take the awards judging sessions overseas to raise awareness of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival outside Scotland. The number of Canadian visitors has increased in recent years and it is hoped that many more will follow suit after the awards tasting and nosing at the Lunar Rogue.

Frank and Jackie, who is originally from Scotland, have accompanied many Canadian groups across the Atlantic to visit the Festival and as well as enjoying all that the fun-filled five-day event has to offer, they also visit many other of Speyside’s attractions. The region boasts stunning landscapes, wildlife, castles, visitor attractions and is renowned for its golf courses.

The couple always cast their votes in the whisky awards when they visit the Festival, and they know exactly what they are looking for in a dram. Frank is a member and past president of The Whisky Tasting Society of New Brunswick – founded in 1982 and believed to be the oldest in Canada – and has chaired the organising committee of the group’s own Raise your Spirits Festival held each November, since the Festival began 22 years ago.

Frank says, "Scotch whisky interest in Canada is growing and there are many, many whisky tasting societies right across the country. I have helped many get started in the past 15 years.

"We have a great affinity with Speyside whiskies in Canada. Names such as The Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and The Macallan - these were the first names of Scotch whiskies that we recognised and were the first available in liquor stores. These whiskies led the way for the hundreds of brands that followed.

"The selection of the best whiskies in four categories will be extremely difficult decision for most whisky aficionados. The judges have done an amazing job just paring the list down to two in each category. No easy task and I suspect the voting will be extremely close. We think that Canadians are up for the challenge and think will embrace the opportunity to be involved."

In the non-age statement category Aberlour a’bunadh is up against Tamdhu Batch Strength 002; while in the category for malt 12-year-old and under, the Aberlour 12-year-old will battle it out with Cragganmore 2004 Distiller’s Edition.

In the 13-20-year-old section it is a head to head between The Glenlivet 18-year-old and Glenfiddich 15-year-old. The two shortlisted whiskies in the 20 years and over category are Mannochmore 25-year-old Special Release and The Macallan 30-year-old Sherry Cask.

James Campbell, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, says, "When we discussed the idea of taking the judging sessions to international destinations, Canada was an obvious choice for us, not least because we knew it would be in Frank and Jackie’s capable hands.

"The Lunar Rogue has built up an impressive reputation and is held in very high regard by whisky drinkers. I hope they will enjoy the chance to sample some exceptional Speyside malts, enjoy hearing more from Frank about what the Festival has to offer."

The judging session for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky Awards takes place on Sunday, March 26 from 2-5pm at the Lunar Rogue. Tickets are available from the bar from March 16, either in person or calling 506-450-2065.

The international awards sessions have been supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

Stuart Turner, head of EventScotland, says, "The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is a fantastic event and we are delighted to be supporting to take the Festival to the world. It is constantly finding innovative ways to engage with whisky enthusiasts. The global judging sessions are a great addition to the Festival and are the perfect stage for people to connect with this unique event while enjoying a wee dram of Scotland’s national drink."

Based in the heart of Scotland’s malt whisky country, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place over five fun-filled days from April 27 to May 1, 2017. It comprises almost 500 events, taking place from Kingussie in the south to Forres in the west and Buckie in the east.

More information about the event is available at www.spiritofspeyside.com and tickets are also available to buy on the website. The Festival is active on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #dram17