This weekend saw the return of the legendary Glenfiddich Festival Experiment for round three. Bigger and better than ever before, this year’s festival welcomed more than 1,200 members of the on-trade from around the world to celebrate the bartending industry.
The private two-day festival was first launched in 2017 as a thank you to the Scottish hospitality industry for its continued support of Glenfiddich, and to celebrate the brand’s experimental nature. Since then it has tripled in size to become the UK’s largest festival for the on-trade community, with tickets coveted by bartenders everywhere.
Guests were treated to immersive entertainment and brand experiences designed to help drive forward their own ability to experiment and push the boundaries in their careers, whilst still keeping the appreciation for the hospitality industry at the heart of the celebration.
This year the festival opened its doors even wider, welcoming guests from across the UK and even a few from further afield. More than 450 bartenders from London, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff and Dublin joined the party, along with an international contingent from around the world. Scottish Brand Ambassador Mark Thomson and National Brand Ambassador to England & Wales Alex Walker were joined by their global counterparts from South Africa and the US to help host this now iconic celebration.
Year three brought more education than ever for attendees, with coopering demonstrations and talks from Malt Master Brian Kinsman on the Main Stage, who lifted the lid on his role, the brand and the industry in a live Q&A. Guest speaker Fabiano Latham, UK Reyka Ambassador, discussed ‘Adventurivity’, in the Tipi Lounge, coaching guests on maintaining health and wellness in the hospitality industry. Guests had the chance to take part in whisky tastings led by the Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador team in a dedicated tasting tent and 450 lucky festival-goers had a chance to tour the Glenfiddich distillery in all its glory.
The Main Stage saw Glenfiddich Festival Experiment Veterans Twin Atlantic take to the stage for their third year, whilst Franz Ferdinand gave their debut headline performance with fan favourites including Take Me Out and No You Girls. Other acts to grace the big top over the two days were: Fatherson, The Snuts, Be Charlotte, and The Ninth Wave.
Twin Atlantic said: “It’s great to be part of something that’s so closely associated with excellence in Scotland, and it’s really exciting to see a new idea for a music festival start to really take off.”
The Tipi Lounge, with panoramic views overlooking the Glenfiddich distillery hosted live comedy from Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Paul Pirie as well as musical performances from: Hyyts, VanIves, Walt Disco, Aaron Smith, Tom Hamilton, Bongo Steve, and Gordon James & The Power.
Both nights finished in style at the Forest Stage which saw late-night sets from Spencer Mac and Jeremy Healy as well as DJ battles between Glenfiddich Brand Ambassadors from the UK, US and South Africa.
Across the festival site, bartenders found themselves on the other side of the bar being served with a selection of Glenfiddich cocktails, with crowd favourite the Stag Colada providing tropical vibes with its lime, pineapple and Absinthe flavours blended with Glenfiddich Our Solera 15. A wider selection of amazing food was provided by The Pitt’s independent street food vendors including The Buffalo Truck, Ròst Eats and The Fire Pitt.
Turtle Higgins, bartender at Abandon Ship in Dundee, commented: “The Glenfiddich Festival Experiment is one of the highlights of the year for many people within the industry. I’ve been lucky enough to see it grow from its first inception and the amount of work that goes into organising behind the scenes is mind-boggling! The festival is a testament to Glenfiddich and how much they want to make this the best possible experience year on year. And the music? I’m still smiling two days later… every band was amazing!”
Mark Thomson, Glenfiddich’s Ambassador to Scotland, commented: “As a Glenfiddich Ambassador, I want as many people as possible to experience the brand and its maverick ethos of pushing the boundaries. The Glenfiddich Festival Experiment has grown from 350 bartenders in its first year to over 1,200, retaining the same purpose throughout; to have fun and educate. This year’s festival had both in abundance and I couldn’t be more proud of not only how all the guests interacted and enjoyed the event but of every member of the team that made it so special.”
Alex Walker, National Brand Ambassador, commented: “Attending my first Glenfiddich Festival Experiment was a huge honour. It’s fantastic to be able to say thank you to our wonderful industry friends from across the country and around the world. And to see how it has grown into the biggest festival of its kind is truly mind blowing.”