July 22nd 2017 was the second ever “National Whisky Festival” event in Edinburgh. The first event was in Glasgow in January of this year but I wasn’t at that one. As a surprise I was given tickets to this event in Edinburgh which was my first ever whisky festival so I cannot comment on how it compares to other events. I wanted to comment on my experiences of the time there though which to me has a little bit of organisation work to do before it reaches its potential in my opinion. Fundamentally, for me three things went wrong in the first session that I attended.
The first issue was at the very beginning. The festival was a ticketed event which was distributed over various different mediums including the same kind of tickets you might get for a music concept and an email type ticket from a website like 5pm.co.uk
This last kind of ticket caused no end of problems for the staff at the event. Each person with an electronic ticket was asked to join a secondary queue and each unique number was checked off a list by hand. A very time consuming task prone to errors and frustrating ticket holders immensely. This was especially the case when everyone was kept outside (in the rain) until opening time so a lot of the people in the queue must have spent the first 30mins of their 3.5 hours at the event queuing to get in. Not good!
Point two is the atmosphere of the event for the most part was very subdued and sterile really. This was partly because at the beginning a lot of attendees were outside in the rain trying to get in but also the live music. This event was billed as having live music but actually probably less than half the time was spent with actual live music. Now, when there were live bands they were excellent so an improvement has to be to fill the full time with music so it becomes closer to a gig.
The final negative point to get out the way comes at the very end. After the last note had been played by the experienced and excellent SHOOGLENIFTY we were told to make our way out the venue. Fairly insistently lead out of the building actually which is pretty shoddy really and ends a decent event on a very poor note.
Post Negative Commentary
Anyway, with those pointers out of the way for the organisers mostly the festival was good fun. I saw a lot of people I follow on twitter and I enjoyed visiting all the stands. There was a wide breadth of experience in the abilities of the stall holders I noticed. For some of the brands like Distell and Glenfiddich these kind of events are small beer and their staff are trained accordingly. For other much smaller operations you could see people were being thrown in the deep end to contain the excitement of the Scottish whisky drinker.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and learning something from the brand ambassadors as well.
The next National Whisky Festival is back in Glasgow for 2018 and tickets will be available from the website at http://nationalwhiskyfestival.scot/