The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

DramFest hits Christchurch this weekend

This weekend will see the Christchurch Town Hall play host to DramFest, the brainchild of Stella and Michael Fraser Milne of Whisky Galore.

The Fraser Milne’s set up the DramFest whisky festival in 2007, motivated by a desire to spread the whisky gospel and also provide whisky enthusiasts from around the country with the opportunity to learn more about the amber nectar and to meet the people behind the brands.

From those humble beginnings in the Limes Room at Christchurch Town Hall, 12 years later they are now hosting their 7th festival back at the Town Hall, where it all started.

DramFest provides a unique opportunity to meet with overseas and local whisky experts including distillers, owners and brand ambassadors. Offering visitors the chance to interact with those who are directly involved with the creation, selection and promotion of whisky from Scotland, Japan, Ireland, New Zealand and all around the whisky world.

With more than 70 exhibitors, the main event will have over 300 different single malt, blended and other whiskies available to try. For the second time in the history of the event, Rum will make an appearance as the “guest spirit.”

A wealth of shared knowledge and expertise

Running alongside the main event are a series of 18 masterclasses and tasting sessions. Providing, those lucky enough to have secured a ticket, the opportunity to meet and share in the wealth of accumulated knowledge from highly respected spirits writers, ambassadors and personalities from all around the whisky and rum world.

These include two special sessions of ‘The Top Shelf’. Specially selected from the archives of Whisky Galore hosts Charles Maclean (MQ) and Dave Broom (MQ), two of the world’s foremost experts and authors on Scotch whisky, will guide guests through a tasting of some of the rarest bottles of ‘liquid history’ available in New Zealand.

Charles MacLean has been writing about Scotch whisky for nearly 40 years and has published seventeen books on the subject. He sits on several judging panels, including that of the International Wine & Spirits Competition, has chaired the nosing panel of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society since 1992, and advises many whisky companies on cask selection and flavour profiling.

With decades of experience in the industry Dave Broom has over a dozen publications to his name and has written countless articles, he is considered one of the worlds most accomplished and award-winning whisky writers.

Both authors have been recognised for their contribution to Whisky each holding the prestigious title of Master of the Quaich (MQ), bestowed by the international society ‘The Keepers of the Quaich’.

The Keepers of the Quaich

The Keepers of the Quaich was established by the Scotch whisky industry to “recognise the outstanding commitment” of those who produce or promote Scotch.

Joining this society is by invitation only and being made a Keeper of the Quaich is something bestowed upon those who have made a significant contribution to whisky for a minimum of five years. Induction of new keepers takes place at Blair Castle in the Scottish Highlands, the ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl.  The society meets at this location twice each year.

Consideration to progress to becoming a Master is given to Keepers of ten years or more, and is an extreme honour given to a maximum of only five ‘outstanding keepers’ at each ceremony.  There are almost 3000 keepers of the Quaich and only 150 Masters worldwide, spread across 100 countries.

For more information on DramFest, head to