Monterey Jack’s partners with Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival to support Neil’s Hugs Foundation

A restaurant and bar company that was born in Stirling has today marked the announcement of their ninth location soon to open with the presentation of a cheque to support a male suicide prevention charity.

Monterey Jack’s, which opened its first restaurant in Stirling in 2012, will open the doors to their newest location within The Hub shopping centre in East Kilbride in April 2022. To mark the news, the company handed over a cheque for £1000 to Neil’s Hugs Foundation, the first donation as part of a partnership with Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival, to support positive mental health work in the Forth Valley area.

Neil’s Hugs Foundation was founded by Donna Paterson-Harvie who lost her only son, Neil to suicide in September 2011. The charity currently run support groups across West Lothian and Clackmannanshire and  works to raise awareness of suicide prevention support available.

The charity is the chosen recipient of funds raised by Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival that takes place at Alloa Town Hall next week, 2-3 April 2022. The unique three-pronged festival concept will be a first for Scotland with the event celebrating whisky and the extensive heritage of its production, operations and innovation particularly in the Clackmannanshire area over the past 300 years. 

Supported by Monterey Jack’s, who will also be in attendance over the event weekend amongst more than 20 other exhibitors, the festival will raise funds and promote wellness by raising awareness of suicide prevention help available to men in crisis and families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Speaking about the partnership, Scott Beatson from Monterey Jack’s bar and restaurant group said: “Monterey Jack’s is really pleased to be continuing our charitable giving work by partnering with Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival and Neil’s Hugs Foundation. With over 200 staff across the country, we are acutely aware of the importance of positive mental health in our workforce, especially in these uncertain times. By kick-starting the fundraising efforts of the festival, we hope others will follow and together we can support the work of Neil’s Hugs Foundation so they can be there in times of need.”

Donna Paterson-Harvie from Neil’s Hugs Foundation said: “We are delighted to be working with Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival and the event’s partners and sponsors to raise awareness of our work and we are over the moon to receive this very generous donation from Scott and the staff at Monterey Jack’s.”

Scott Abercrombie, Co-founder of Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival said: “Combining this celebration of whisky and heritage with our work promoting wellness will deliver a truly memorable festival concept that is unique to Scotland. Our team has built this event around the core wish to raise awareness of suicide and we will do all we can to support the work of Neil’s Hugs Foundation through our partnership with Monterey Jack’s.”

Tickets for the packed two-day event can be purchased online at

Businesses who would like to find out more about supporting the charity work of the festival are asked to contact the organisers by email or to visit for more information.

grant gilchrist

Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist Joins the Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival Scrum

Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival welcomes Scotland rugby professional Grant Gilchrist as ambassador for the inaugural event taking place 2-3 April at Alloa Town Hall.

Fresh from a Calcutta Cup triumph and claiming his 50th cap representing Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations, Grant Gilchrist (21) — ‘Gilcho’ as he’s known in the Wee County — has claimed a new title becoming ambassador for Alloa’s new whisky, heritage, and wellness festival. There was no question when the former Lornshill Academy pupil was presented with the opportunity to give back to his hometown and to support Alloa based festival organiser SlanjEvents’ efforts to raise funds for local male suicide support charity, Neil’s Hugs Foundation.

Far from being a tall order, 6ft 7 Gilchrist, who once played for Alloa Rugby, said:

“I am delighted to be part of the team supporting Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival. Alloa is wonderful place that is often overlooked and having Scotland’s first whisky, heritage, and wellness festival take place on our doorstep will offer a huge boost to the town.

“The heritage that exists in the Clackmannanshire area linked to whisky production is incredible. I had the chance to preview the exhibition content that has been selected for the festival and it is definitely not to be missed. I’m sure there will be a few familiar faces in some of the photos. I’m also looking forward to trying out some ghost distillery whisky from Cambus – it’s incredible to think the distillery closed when I was still a baby!.

“At the core of my support for Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival is the chance to help raise awareness of suicide in the local community. Donna and Janice from Neil’s Hugs Foundation do some fantastic work in Clackmannanshire supporting families who have been affected by suicide and I am delighted to do anything I can to support their work”.

Speaking about the festival’s new ambassador, Graham Lindsay from SlanjEvents said:

“We are thrilled to have Grant on-board as ambassador for Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival. Grant is a well known and hugely positive sports professional and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to help us develop the strategy for delivering a memorable event for whisky lovers in Alloa and across Scotland”.

Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival takes place on Saturday 2 April and Sunday 3 April 2022. Attendees will receive a special commemorative glass and will have the opportunity to sample and hear from a variety of whisky producers from across Scotland and the world. A curated selection of exclusive masterclasses will also take place at each of the three sessions as well as a ticketed exclusive whisky and heritage showcase event taking place at 3.30pm on Saturday 2 April within the festival venue.

If you would like to purchase tickets for the festival, masterclasses, or the whisky and heritage showcase event, visit

For information about sponsorship or exhibiting at Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival, please contact the festival team by email or telephone 01259 207408.

SlanjEvents Clackmannanshire's Whisky Festival

New festival raises a glass to Clackmannanshire’s whisky heritage

The SlanjEvents team with Janice from Neil’s Hugs Foundation

ALLOA, Scotland. 26 November 2021

Alloa-based SlanjEvents has announced the first annual Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival will take place at Alloa Town Hall next spring, 2-3 April 2022 with tickets for the packed two-day event now available to buy online. The unique three-pronged festival concept will be a first for Alloa and for Scotland with the event celebrating not only the variety of flavours and the popularity of whisky, but the extensive heritage of its production, operations and innovation particularly in the local area over the past 200 years. The platform created by the event will also be used to promote wellness and positive mental health by raising awareness of suicide prevention support available in Clackmannanshire that is helping young men who may be in crisis, and their families.

With five months to go, an impressive and growing exhibitor lineup has been announced including some of the biggest brands in Scottish whisky as well as names from Europe and further afield. The festival has also partnered with Diageo, Clackmannanshire’s third-largest employer, to deliver a coopering demonstration at the festival where skilled craftsmen will show how casks are made. In addition to more than 30 exhibitors stationed in the town hall for all sessions, and 12 exclusive masterclasses taking place in break-out rooms across the two-days, the not-to-be-missed jewel in the crown of the festival will be the Clackmannanshire Showcase, delivered in partnership with The Edinburgh Whisky Academy. This exclusive one-off masterclass and sampling session will offer ticket holders a very rare opportunity to taste whisky from some of Clackmannanshire’s distilleries that have long since closed.

Together with visiting the exhibitor stands in the main hall, attendees will have the chance to view and contribute to an interactive heritage timeline celebrating the people, whisky distilleries, brands and employers from across Clackmannanshire through the years. This exhibition will include a display of artefacts from locations including Cambus and Carsebridge Distilleries.

Scott Abercrombie, Co-founder of Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival said: “We want to use our exciting new festival to shine a light on just how important Clackmannanshire has always been to Scotland’s whisky timeline. A brief look at the history books reveals a treasure trove of fascinating whisky facts-from-Clacks. 

“With names including Stein, Jameson, and Haig all hailing from the county; Scotland’s first commercial exporting distillery opening on the Forth at Kennetpans in 1720; and more recently Diageo’s vast operations providing employment and keeping industry skills local, there is no denying Clackmannanshire is steeped in whisky — and a very nice whisky too!.

“Combining this celebration of whisky and heritage with our work promoting wellness will deliver a truly unique festival concept that is already proving hugely popular to confirmed within the industry with five months still to go.”

SlanjEvents has also announced Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival has teamed up with suicide prevention charity, Neil’s Hugs Foundation. The partnership will see the first year of the festival dedicated to helping raise awareness of the foundation’s vital community support work and its campaign to attract new volunteers as it expands its mental health services to a greater number of communities across the county. 

Donna Paterson-Harvie, Neil’s Hugs Foundation said: “Having a platform like Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival support our foundation to reach a wider audience locally is hugely helpful. We want to let men across Clackmannanshire know, not matter your age or circumstances, that we are here to help, even if it’s just for a cuppa and a hug. We are also very grateful to the organisers and the event sponsors who have so far raised over £2000 which will be ring fenced to fund our meetings and support services in Clackmannanshire.

The organisers have promised a whisky festival like no other. On arrival at the festival, attendees will be presented with a commemorative tasting glass from Glencairn Crystal®, an event guide with personalised tasting notes diary, and an exclusive Clackmannanshire history & heritage timeline, all as part of a bumper welcome pack.

With Christmas just around the corner, there really is no better time to secure tickets for Clackmannanshire’s Whisky Festival 2022. You can purchase tickets for all sessions online at

Whisky distilleries and brands who would like to exhibit at the festival, or businesses who would like to find out more about sponsorship and partnership opportunities, are asked to contact the organisers by email or to visit for more information.