The 11 Best
One of the best parts about drinking whiskey is the sense of community it offers. Sitting down at a tasting with a group of friends (or even strangers!) provides an experience like no other, and debating flavor profiles and ranking whiskies is fast becoming a beloved past time.
Honestly, few places offer this experience quite like any of the best whiskey festivals do.
As you get to know more whiskeys, you may want to start exploring some of the best whiskey festivals and events. These festivals, most taking place yearly, can be found around the globe, and honor the distilleries, master distillers, and the whiskeys that have been created.
We’ve picked out some of the best whiskey festivals that you should know about, so that you can add a few to your bucket list.
Glasgow’s Whisky Festival
This list of the best whiskey festivals wouldn’t be complete without the Glasgow’s Whisky Festival. It celebrates the Scotland’s national drink, bringing together the best of Glasgow, Scotland, and even some whisky from other parts of the globe.
Over 65 exhibitors from various distilleries are on hand to answer questions, and give out samples of their offerings to the 2000 attendees. The festival boasts representatives from Glenfiddich, Glencairn, Murray McDavid, and James Eadie.
WHISKY SHOW: OLD & RARE
If you are interested in fine, rare, and antique spirits, this is the best whisky festival to attend. Hosted in London, the show features mostly independent companies and collectors, rather than distilleries. You can get your hands on some of the hardest to find Scotch, Japanese, Irish, and American whiskey.
The best part is, you can purchase these whiskies to try by the dram, allowing guests to sample whiskey that would otherwise be far too cost prohibitive.
That’s why the show is such a draw for a worldwide assortment of whiskey fans and collectors. The show draws in about 1000 people over two days, and offers about 600 whiskeys.
There are also a variety of events to take part in, including masterclasses.
Whisky Lovers Nagoya
Japan’s whisky is hugely popular both in and outside of Japan, and the Nagoya Whisky Lovers festival makes the list of the best whiskey festivals because it is a celebration of the best, rare, and expensive offers from one of the newest entries into the whisky making game.
Here you will find over 100 booths, with lots of rare whiskeys available to sample. You can find Japanese distilleries represented, such as Shinshu, Chichibu and Shizuoka, but American whiskey is also featured.
Fife Whisky Festival
Over 30 distilleries and independent bottlers take part in the Fife Whisky Festival yearly. While the festival is only 3 years old, their March 2020 event hosted 650 whiskey lovers from around the world making it easily one of the best whiskey festivals out there.
Get to know some of the smaller distilleries, while rubbing elbows with representatives of the bigger Scottish names.
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival has been going strong for 30 years, and is the definitive experience in the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown.
This isn’t just a bourbon tasting event – it honors the contributions of bourbon community leaders, and those who have been involved in promoting the spirit for generations which is fascinating for any whiskey lover.
The weeklong festival draws more than 50,000 visitors yearly, and features whiskey tastings, barrel rolling and relay races, as well as access to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey.
New Orleans Bourbon Festival
While Kentucky is the first place that usually comes to mind when talking about bourbon, The Big Easy has a long history with the spirit as well. Bourbon may have actually gotten its name from Bourbon Street in New Orleans!
This best whiskey festival is a two day event, and like all festivals in New Orleans, it’s an over the top party. Sample bourbons from the best distilleries in the world, along with whiskey inspired cuisine and jazz music to set the scene of an early 20th century speakeasy.
Victoria Whisky Festival
If you can head to British Columbia, Canada, you’ll be able to experience one of the world’s best whiskey festivals, taking place over four days in January. While plenty of Canadian whisky is featured, including Canadian Club, masterclasses are presented by world-class distilleries including Jim Beam and Sazerac.
The event also encompasses the Canadian Whisky Awards, honoring the best distillers from across the country.
Ireland’s Festival of Irish Whiskey
A relatively new festival, but still one of the best out there, this event hosted by Irish Whiskey 360 features some of the best distilleries that Ireland has to offer, including Bushmills, Jameson, and Teeling.
The festival includes 40 events held over four days.
Related: Best Rye Whiskey Under $50
Distilleries run discounted tours, and team up with local restaurants to offer food pairings. Experience a live cooperage demonstration, or take a masterclass in distilling at the famous Echlinville distillery.
It’s not surprising that the flashiest festival on our list is held in Las Vegas. The Nth, also known as Universal Whisky Experience, is an extravagant festival, starting at $3,000 a ticket. It has been named by Forbes Magazine as “far and away the most exclusive whisky show in the USA.”
Each year it is hosted at the Wynn Hotel, one of Vegas’ premier hotel and casinos. Sample some of the rarest, most premium whiskies all in one place, and speak to master distillers, blenders, and mixologists.
Take a Master Class, and have the opportunity to purchase one of the most expensive bottles of whisky. The Nth is truly the top luxury whisky festival.
Spirit of Speyside Festival
In the Scottish region of Speyside, there are 51 working distilleries, and the Spirit of Speyside Festival seeks to feature them all. This is the world’s largest and best whiskey festival, and the events are spread across the entire region.
With over 700 whiskey events, you cannot possibly do everything in one year, which gives a great excuse to visit again in future years.
FÈIS ÌLE: The Islay Festival of Music and Malt
Since 1984, the Islay Festival of Music and Malt has been welcoming whiskey lovers from around the world to take part in a celebration of music and very fine malt. This is one of the country’s largest and best whiskey festivals, welcoming over 10,000 people to an island that usually only has 3,000 full-time residents.
The weeklong party salutes whisky culture, music, and the island of Islay. Each day of the festival, a different distillery hosts the festivities, and takes over everything from the tours to the music. Take in the tastings and tours, and then head to one of the island’s beaches
Each year, a selection of exclusive bottles is released to mark the festival, and prices for these offerings can be in the thousands.
Choosing the best whiskey festival for you can be a bit of a challenge. But not one you should mind!
While the options are abundant when it comes to choosing the best whiskey festival out there you really can’t go wrong. , No matter which whiskey festival you decided to attend you’ll be surrounded by fellow whiskey lovers.
That said, I’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting and research for you!