If you’re a bartender or a big lover of whisky then you may have heard about the Glenfiddich Festival Experiment already however if not then you are not alone – keep reading to find out!
Kirsty was very kindly invited along to the festival and she asked me to with her. Of course, I said yes and oh boy… it is by far one of the best experiences I have ever had! The festival took place on the Sunday 8th in the Glenfiddich Distillery (the hosts) hometown, Dufftown.
The History of Glenfiddich
As I mentioned the event was hosted by Glenfiddich Whisky so let’s look into a little background story, shall we?
The distillery was founded back in 1887 by William Grant and it is still currently owned by William’s descendants. William’s dream was to create the best dram in the valley. This remains a main ambition for the company to this day.
The word Glenfiddich means “valley of the deer” in Scottish Gaelic which inspired the iconic stag logo.
Glenfiddich has created the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky. It has received more awards since 2000 than any other single malt scotch whisky! Pretty cool huh?
What is the Glenfiddich festival experiment?
I know I know I hear you “Holly, you still haven’t told us what it is?!“
The Glenfiddich Festival Experiment is essentially a huge thank you to the nations bartenders and is the biggest UK festival for the on-trade community.
For the past 3 years, Glenfiddich has been opening its distillery doors for over 1000 members of the hospitality trade and this year they had international attendees too.
Over the two day festival, there is some great Scottish headlining bands, an array of delicious food options and obviously lot’s of Glenfiddich cocktails.
I’m no expert when it comes to festivals so I was amazed and overwhelmed the minute we walked through the gates into the grassy area. There was a main stage, a tipi lounge, silent disco and even a big stage in the forest – amongst plenty other amazing features such as; a glitter station, massage area and even an area to charge your phone.
Glenfiddich Festival Experiment Line Up
Where do I even begin?
On Sunday Gordon James & The Power kicked off the live music over in the Tipi Lounge which was stunning. It was multiple large tipis all joined together with a bar and fairy lights everywhere, oh and let’s not forget about all the comfy chairs and sofa’s in there that created a beautiful comfy lounge area.
Over on the main stage, whisky ambassadors Mark Thompson and Alex Walker gave a welcome speech and ran through the weekend events ahead. This was followed by Be Charlotte and Glenfiddich Festival Experiment veterans Twin Atlantic. If you don’t know Twin Atlantic are a rock band from Glasgow and my 16-year-old self was liiiving for! They even played my favourite song! We sadly had to leave very quickly after Twin Atlantic so we sadly didn’t get to experience the DJ sets out on the forest stage.
Monday continued to be just as jam-packed as the day before however sadly Kirsty and I had to get back to the normality of office life! There was music from Fabs Latham, The Ninth Wave, The Snuts and of course the one and only Franz Ferdinand! We also missed a Q&A with Brian Kinsman on of the Glenfiddich Master Blenders.
Whisky Tasting with the Experts
An unforgettable moment at the festival was having a whisky tasting with Mark Thompson. I can’t say that I have ever been a whisky drinker so the idea of sipping straight whisky was a little unsettling but I was keen to see how Mark could change my mind! He started by explaining that our bodies reject the ethanol in whisky which is why it doesn’t taste so great to begin with. He talked us through how to cleanse your palette to get past that burning taste.
We started by trying a classic Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky which Mark described as having a sweet and fruity taste. This was then followed by two from the experimental range; IPA and Project XX. The final Whisky we tried was the Glenfiddich Fire and Cane which had a very sweet but smokey taste and was by far my favourite of the bunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different whiskies that Glenfiddich had to offer however it was absolutely made better knowing that I was literally sitting in the same tent as… Jack freaking McCann!
I’m not sure where my confidence came from but I went for it and spoke to him! He was so sweet and was more than happy to chat and take photos with us – thanks, Jack!
Food and Drinks at the Glenfiddich Festival Experiment
As I said before, Whisky was not something I gravitated towards and so if I’m honest Kirtsy and I drank gin for most of the day – which by the way, was delightful in the sunshine! We couldn’t go to a whisky festival and not try at least one whiskey cocktail though and so we opted for the Covert Affair. This was a smooth blend of Glenfiddich Project XX whisky, Madeira, raspberry eau de vie, sugar syrup, absinthe Blanche and bitters. This one definitely took me a while to get used to but the raspberry definitely helped!
As for food, there was something for everyone! Asian inspired, pizzas, burgers, macaroni and sweet treats too. We were given 3 meal tokens and of course we absolutely had to use them all – calories don’t count at festivals right??
Ginger & Chilli
As big fans of Asian food it was no surprise that Kirsty and I headed here first! We decided to grab the Sri Lankan Dahl and Kati Roll Taco.
The Sri Lankan Dahl was a spiced, vegan delight! It was served with basmati rice, a fresh chapati, Jaipur slaw and a variety of toppings. Oh my word. Looking at it just makes me hungry all over again! The Kati Roll Taco was not a conventional taco. Instead, it was comprised of an Indian flatbread topped with half lentil dahl and half chicken curry, rice, Jaipur slaw and again a variety of toppings. We wolfed these two down quickly and if I ever saw them again I would rush back in a minute!
For our ‘dinner’ we decided that burgers were a good option. Kirsty decided to head over to the beef burger stand where she opted for a classic burger with cheese and a side of chips.
In the interest of trying as many stands as possible, I decided to head over to the chicken burger cart where I was instantly drawn to the Korean burger which consisted of a large juicy buttermilk fried chicken thigh, lettuce, house Korean gochujang hot sauce all in a toasted brioche bun. Delicious!
Mac and Cheese
Once Twin Atlantic had finished their incredible set we realised that we should fill our bellies before heading home. We were instantly drawn to the delicious scent of mac and cheese!
There were 4 different mac and cheese options and Kirsty decided to go for the Italian option which consisted of their creamy macaroni topped with sun-dried tomatoes and a yummy pesto sauce covered in Parmesan cheese!
I decided to go for something a little different and went for their Haggis Mac & Cheese which is exactly how it sounds. Their classic creamy macaroni topped with a large helping of haggis and a generous sprinkling of crispy fried onion – man oh man was this good! Definitely something I would try again soon!
Overall Thoughts about the Festival
The Glenfiddich Festival Experiment #3 was the most fun-filled exciting experiences that I have ever had an has absolutely given me the festival bug! There was absolutely nothing I would change about that day even down to the toilets – they were absolutely nothing like standard festival toilets!
If I was ever given the opportunity to go again I would absolutely jump at the chance and hopefully stay for the full festival next time!
I was pretty gutted to have missed out on the distillery tour but it is something that I have added to my to-do list and learn even more about the history of whisky.
Have you been to the distillery or maybe even attended the festival? What’s your thoughts?