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What’s on in May

It’s a great month for Scotch fans, with three different whisky regions hosting festivals in May.

Emerging talent from Central Europe will descend on Bratislava’s Mirror Bar this May
Emerging talent from Central Europe will descend on Bratislava’s Mirror Bar this May

There are also events for those of you further afield, from an expo all about Slovakian hospitality to a bar takeover in Bali.

Keep scrolling to find out our pick of the top 10 spirits events happening this month.

Spirit of Speyside

spirit-of-speyside May

What: A celebration of one of Scotch’s main regions
Where: Across Strathspey
When: 1-6 May

Scotland’s two biggest-selling single malt brands – The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich – call Speyside home, so it’s no wonder this event celebrating this region is a sprawling six-day bonanza. There are plenty of smaller brands opening their doors too, from the newly opened Dunphail to Gordon & MacPhail-owned Benromach.

While whisky tasting and distillery tours could take up most of your time, the festival also offers live music, off-roading and salmon-fishing events.

Festival De Mexico

Festival De Mexico May

What: A Cinco de Mayo party in South Africa
Where: Montecasino Blvd, Fourways Johannesburg
When: 4 May

Cinco de Mayo is a huge deal in the Americas, but it’s catching on around the world. In Johannesburg, Don Julio Tequila is bringing a taste of Mexico to Johannesburg this May, for the 10th edition of South Africa’s Mexican festival. Expect street food, cocktails, plenty of Tequila and even a piñata showdown.

Arca takes over NoMad London

NoMad restaurant

What: A bar takeover by one of Latin America’s best venues
Where: NoMad London
When: 5-6 May

The second of our two picks for Cinco de Mayo is based around mezcal, rather than Tequila – specifically the Lost Explorer, who will be sponsoring Tulum restaurant and bar Arca’s first trip to London. For two nights, the team will be serving up mezcal cocktails and small plates inspired by the culinary heritage of Mexico.

Mirror Hospitality Expo

Mirror Bar Bratislava

What: Central Europe’s leading bar show
Where: Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel, Bratislava
When: 7-8 May

What comes to mind when you think of Bratislava’s hospitality scene? If you said Mirror Bar, which made the extended list of The World’s 50 Best Bars and has been shortlisted for two prizes at this year’s Spirited Awards, you’d be right – but you’ve barely touched the surface of the Slovakian on-trade.

That’s why Mirror Bar is hosting an expo to teach the world about the talent emerging from the Slovak and Central European bar scene. Expect seminars, masterclasses, market showcases from local Slovakian brands and guest shifts from bar teams from around the world.

Yao Lu heads to Bali

Neon Milk Punch, The Union Trading Company

What: The Union Trading Company’s co-owner visits Indonesia
Where: Mozaic Bali
When: 8 May

The Union Trading Company has made a reputation by crafting playful drinks, such as its Neon Milk Punch inspired by kids’ cereal. The bar’s co-owner Yao Lu will be taking that fun-loving spirit south, all the way to Bali’s Mozaic bar and restaurant for one night only.

Du Ui Hong’s takeover at Bā Nomu

Ba Nomu May

What: A taste of Korea in Germany
Where: Bā Nomu, Hamburg
When: 15 May

If Bali is a little far, you can taste some of Asia’s best cocktails in Europe this May as Du Ui Hong, the owner of Pine&Co and Cricket in Seoul, will be serving up drinks at Hamburg’s Bā Nomu, as the venue celebrates its second birthday.

The event is sponsored by Don Papa Rum, so we’re expecting some super-finessed cocktails that spotlight the premium aged rum.

Campbeltown Malts Festival 2024


What: A festival celebrating Scotland’s smallest whisky region
Where: Campbeltown, Scotland
When: 20-25 May

Next up on the Scotch whisky festival tour is Campbeltown, which is home to distilleries including Glen Scotia, Springbank and Glengyle (which creates Kilkerran single malt) – though that number is soon to grow, with both Brave New Spirits and R&B Distillers recently gaining planning approval to build distilleries in the region.

Each distillery will host its own events, from Glen Scotia’s panels with whisky experts Becky Paskin, Millie Milliken and Dave Broom, to Springbank’s malt barns dinner.

Fèis Ìle

Fèis Ìle May

What: Arguably the world’s most famous whisky festival
Where: Islay, Scotland
When: 24 May – 1 June

Once you’ve ticked off Speyside and Campbeltown, you might as well go the whole hog and make the trek over to Islay for Fèis Ìle. The tiny island is home to an astonishing nine distilleries, with all of them opening their doors to the public during the festival. There will also be an opening parade, a ceilidh, live music, a coastline tour and street food stalls from around the country.

Vinexpo Asia

Vinexposium event in February

What: Asia’s leading wine and spirits fair
Where: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
When: 28-30 May

After heading to Singapore for the first time last year, this year’s Vinexpo Asia returns to Hong Kong, with future shows alternating between the two locations. Around 1,300 producers are expected to attend, with ABK6 Cognac, Cazcabel Tequila and Constellation Brands among those confirmed.

101 Bold Nights

Wild Turkey Warren Zeiders

What: A concert series from Wild Turkey and country singer Warren Zeiders
Where: Charlotte, NC
When: 29 May

For the third year, Wild Turkey Bourbon is hosting 101 Bold Nights, an initiative that aims to spotlight music artists who share the brand’s commitment to community, creativity and conviction. This year’s headliner is Warren Zeiders, who will kick off the three-date series with a gig in North Carolina.

Wild Turkey will also donate US$100,000 to charity partner Spaceflight Records, an Austin-based nonprofit that helps to develop music careers.

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