It goes without saying 2020 was a rough year for many industries, including for craft distillers. The Covid-19 pandemic forced cancellations and postponements around the world for things like festivals and in-person events. With a successful nationwide vaccine rollout and updated CDC guidelines for those who have got their shot (of the Covid variety, not whiskey), it means attending in person events is a possibility this summer. These whiskey events are a good place to start.
Here are the top whiskey festivals to attend in 2021.
May 28-June 5, 2021: Islay Festival of Malt & Music, Scotland (Virtual)
The Islay Festival of Malt & Music is a gathering of whisky and Islay fans from across the globe. In the last week of May, people from around the world celebrate Islay, her culture and her spirit in a ten-day event that defines the whiskey calendar.
September 16-19, 2021: Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Bardstown, Kentucky
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival draws people from all over the world to Bardstown, Kentucky for a week of celebrating the storied history and art of distilling America’s native spirit. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival began in 1991 as a bourbon tasting and dinner and will celebrate 30 years in 2021.
September 25-27, 2021: Whisky Live, Paris, France
Whisky Live is Europe’s largest whisky and spirit tasting show that draws people from London to Tokyo, Paris to Glasgow. Whisky Live Paris is the unmissable annual event for discovering hundreds of new releases, many of which are world exclusives.
October 1-3, 2021: The Whisky Show, London, England
The UK’s best whisky show is back for the biggest year yet. Attendees will get three days of live events from Old Billingsgate in addition to eight days of incredible live sessions for a virtual whisky extravaganza.
October 8, 2021: Great American Whiskey Fair, Columbia, South Carolina
The Great American Whiskey Fair is the largest celebration of American whiskey in the Southeast, with over 100 different distilleries and bottlers presenting over 500 whiskeys, bourbons and ryes.
October 30, 2021: WhiskyFest, Hollywood, FL, Chicago, New York, San Francisco
For the first time ever Big Smoke meets WhiskyFest with dates in Hollywood, FL, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Guests will enjoy hundreds of whiskies, collect 20+ premium cigars and attend free whisky seminars conducted by experts.
November 3-8, 2021: Spirit of Speyside Festival, Scotland
During November, the doors to Speyside’s world famous distilleries open, inviting visitors from across the globe to meet the makers, taste the world’s finest whiskies and discover the passion behind them. In addition, attendees are treated to events fit for foodies, live music, talks, tastings, tours and more.
Date TBD: From the Barrel — Des Moines Whiskey Festival, Des Moines, Iowa
Held in our hometown of Des Moines, Iowa the organizers of From the Barrel — Des Moines Whiskey Festival have announced their intention to host the annual event some time in November of this year after having to skip last year. RackHouse Whiskey Club has been a proud sponsor with local favorites like Tempteton Rye, Cedar Ridge and Iowa Legendary Rye topping the bill for tastings.
November 16-20: New Brunswick Spirits Festival, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Visitors from around the world gather in Canadian province of New Brunswick for a five-day event featuring the best whisky has to offer. Spirit fans will also be treated to a selection of new, limited time only products during the festival.
January 13-16, 2022: Victoria Whisky Festival, Victoria, British Columbia
The sell-out Victoria Whisky Festival will return to British Columbia for a landmark 15th year. In previous years, guests have enjoyed masterclasses presented by some of the biggest distilleries in the world.