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The ‘Dram Queen’ and other whisky leaders at the heart of International Women’s Day

Published:  03 March, 2023

The globally known Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is returning in spring 2023, with many of the industry’s top female leaders and whisky-makers at the heart of the event.

The annual celebration will be taking over the region from 26 April to 1 May in order to celebrate Scotland’s national spirit.

As the festival explores whisky’s Scottish heritage, it also aims to place a spotlight on some of the incredible women who are instrumental in the industry, in honour of International Women’s Day, which is also coming up next week on 8 March.

Read more: Soapbox: Is alcohol in Scotland an endangered species?

Among some of the events with top-billing are sessions led by Ann Miller ‘The Dram Queen’, an acknowledged whisky expert. Miller was one of the first women to be an international brand ambassador and now offers tailor-made, personalised whisky experiences sharing behind the scenes expertise.

Miller is hosting multiple events at the whisky festival, including ‘Stories of Women in Scotch Whisky’, a talk tracing the contribution made to distilling in Speyside by some notable women since the days of illicit distillation.

‘What is Speyside? A region, a style, a story?’ will also take visitors to Miller’s own dram room to explore the evolving nature of Speyside via a selection of interesting drams.

Meanwhile, Spirit of Speyside ambassadors Steph and Lauren Murray are a sister duo who have been the driving force behind the transformation of The Dowans Hotel.

The offering of ‘an evening with’ Steph and Lauren discussing the stories and secrets of the whisky industry has already been filled by high demand, though the sisters have also organised a selection of festival events to take place at The Dowans Hotel.

The event also features the first distillery to be officially pioneered by a woman, Cardhu’s founders Helen and Elizabeth Cumming. Festival events at Cardhu will provide a journey through Cardhu’s founding by two generations of resolute women.

Festival coordinator Angela McOwan said: “With visitors joining us from around the world to discover what makes Speyside so special, it’s so important to us that they hear the whole story – and that means shining a light on the women in the industry.

“Speyside would not have cultivated its incredible history or be the region it is today without the work of the passionate, pioneering women behind the scenes.”

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Top image shows Ann Miller aka The Dram Queen