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Russians Develop a Taste for Whisky

Published: March 9, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Each distillery has a unique set of stills, like these at Glenfiddich Distillery.
    Photo: D. Garrison Golubock / SPT

  • The scenic Scottish region of Speyside has seen an influx of Russians.
    Photo: D. Garrison Golubock / SPT

Britain is becoming increasingly well-known for its enclaves of wealthy Russians — from Roman Abramovich's ownership of London's Chelsea F.C. soccer team to the voyeuristic "Meet The Russians" reality show on FOX, wealthy Russian emigres have gotten plenty of headlines in London.

However, a new wave of Russians is headed further north, to Aberdeen and the Scottish region of Speyside, where the booming oil industry and the lure of plentiful Scotch whisky have lured many wealthy Russians.

Related: Wealthy Russians Take Over British TV

"The Scots welcome wholeheartedly all tourists from any part of the world," said Elena Sargeant, head of TransAberdeen Languages and Tours, a company offering interpreting services and tours aimed at Russians. "Russian tourists in particular are very welcome because they are very kind, polite, very well-behaved, very knowledgeable about Scottish and British history," Sargeant added.

Sargeant said numerous Russians and Russian speakers from the former Soviet Union lived in Aberdeen, working in positions ranging from company directors and university lecturers to cleaners and laborers. The number of Russian speakers has steadily grown in recent years, with a large influx of immigrants from the Baltic republics.

Related: U.K. Property Tax Targets Wealthy Russians

The growing local population of Russians, as well as growing numbers of Russian tourists — Russian visitors to the U.K. have risen by more than 60 percent since 2009 — has led to a noticeable number of wealthy Russians visiting Speyside, the region around Aberdeen, which is known for its great quantity of single malt whisky distilleries.

"We do get a lot of Russians coming in, and luckily they do have a lot of money," said Michael Lord, proprietor of "The Whisky Shop" in Dufftown. While tourism in general has declined since the economic crisis, wealthy Russians have helped to make up for losses with extravagant spending.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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