Crime writer Ian Rankin will be guest of honour when the Fife Whisky Festival returns to the Kingdom next month.
The author, who was born in Cardenden, Fife, will speak at the whisky-themed dinner which opens the event at Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh.
He said: ‘As a keen whisky drinker I’m delighted to be speaking at the Festival. Whisky is one of the wonders of Scotland. Sharing a few whiskies with a friend is the ultimate act of conviviality.
‘There’s a spirit of place to each lovingly-produced whisky and also a sense of history. Whisky connects us with the past, stirs memories, warms us and welcomes us.
‘Scotland punches above its weight in many sectors, but with whisky we have given the world a very great gift.’
The third Fife Whisky Festival, founded by Justine Hazlehurst, of Kask Whisky, and Karen Somerville, of Angels’ Share Glass, runs from Friday March 6 until Sunday March 8.
The showcase event opens with a banquet style dinner on the Friday night featuring three courses paired with special drams and an after-dinner talk from Mr Rankin- best known for his series of Inspector Rebus novels.
The Festival continues on Saturday March 7 with two tasting sessions at the Corn Exchange in Cupar.
The opening dinner and first Saturday session are sold out but there are tickets remaining for the second Saturday session which runs from 5-8.30pm.
There are also tickets available for a special event on the Sunday – a screening of whisky film The Amber Light at Kingsbarns Distillery and Visitor Centre near St Andrews followed by a tour and tasting.
The film, directed by Adam Park, follows spirits writer Dave Broom on a quest to gain a deeper understanding of his national drink – whisky.
Nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at 2019’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, the film traces his journey back to the roots of whisky and shows how it is an integral part of wider Scottish culture.
The film will be followed by an exclusive guided tour of Kingsbarns Distillery and a trip to the tasting room to enjoy some carefully selected drams.
Meanwhile on the Saturday, the Festival will feature a special bottling of whisky from Fife’s own Cameronbridge Distillery.
Exclusively selected by official Festival retailer Luvians and bottled by Fife Whisky Festival exhibitor, James Eadie, this 22-year-old single grain whisky was finished for 12 months in a first fill Marsala hogshead.
The release is limited to just 275 bottles and will be sold for the first time at the 2020 Festival.
Justine Hazlehurst said: ‘We’re delighted to introduce this fantastic limited- edition single grain whisky at the Festival which I’m sure will prove popular.
‘We’re also really pleased with how the Festival has grown in both numbers and reputation since the first event in 2018.
‘We sold more tickets in the first three days this time than in the first three months for the 2019 festival which is indicative of its growing success.’
Karen Somerville said: ‘The Festival really has gone from strength to strength since we launched it and exceeded all our expectations.
‘It’s a real coup to have Ian Rankin join us as guest speaker at the dinner in Lindores Abbey – he’s well known for enjoying a dram and of course he has strong links to Fife so we’re looking forward to hearing what he has to say.’
Lindores Abbey owner Drew McKenzie Smith said: ‘We at Lindores are proud to host the opening dinner for Fife Whisky Festival as we are home to the first written reference to Scotch whisky.
‘Fife may have been a quiet area for whisky production for some time but slowly we are becoming a well know region for more and more distilleries, which is why we are thrilled to play such a huge part at the official opening of the Fife Whisky Festival.
‘This is the second time we have hosted the Opening Dinner and we hope to keep this a yearly tradition as the festival grows to become one of the biggest festivals across Scotland.’
The first Fife Whisky Festival took place in 2018 after Ms Hazlehurst and Mrs Somerville, an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), joined forces to bring whisky back to the Kingdom of Fife.
It proved a major success and was followed by a bigger and better second event in March last year.
This year the Festival is sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, legal firm MacRoberts LLP and global construction company ISG.
It will feature two tasting sessions on the Saturday with drams on offer from more than 35 distilleries and independent bottlers including Springbank, Tullibardine, Blair Athol, Glen Scotia, Glenfiddich and Eden Mill.
The famous Luvians Bottle Shop, the festival’s on-site official retailer, will be on hand for whisky purchases and there will be a food stall run by a local business throughout the day.
Graeme Dempster, of sponsor Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, said: ‘Now in its third year, the Fife Whisky Festival has been a great success and boosted Fife’s reputation as a whisky destination.
‘It’s exciting to see over 30 distilleries and independent bottlers from across Scotland come together to present their whisky expertise. I’m really looking forward to catching up with the new exhibitors, festival regulars, friends and our clients.
‘Our involvement in the whisky distillery sector has allowed us to support and advise established and emerging distilleries on their insurance needs.
‘As the industry goes from strength to strength, it’s great to see an event like the Fife Whisky Festival grow in prominence too. As the ‘Broker of Choice’ within the Scotch Whisky industry, we’re delighted to be a part of it once again.’
Paul Beaton, ISG’s regional director in Scotland, said: ‘Scotland’s premium beverage sector plays a pivotal role in our economy and shared history, and we are committed to supporting many of the world’s most recognised global brands meet a consistently growing market demand.
‘The Fife Whisky Festival brings together the best in the industry and we are delighted to sponsor this year’s event.’
Euan Duncan, partner and chair of MacRoberts, said: “MacRoberts are thrilled to be able to offer our support to the Fife Whisky Festival 2020 as part of our commitment to the wider Food & Drink market in Scotland.
‘The sector is growing, and the event marks an exciting opportunity for both established and emerging brands to not only showcase Fife Whisky, but also some of the best that Scotland has to offer.’
To buy tickets and for more details about Fife Whisky Festival, go to www.fifewhiskyfestival.com