This was my first visit to Whisky Live and right at the start of this post I can tell you that it is now firmly in the calendar and I will be there again next year. I had a wonderful day out that included an early morning battle against the 4 inches of snow that fell in Birmingham the night before. Thankfully the public transport network was more of less holding up and I made my way down to London without too many hitches for a day that would be split into three parts.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
I’d arranged to go for lunch at the SMWS in Greville Street and to meet a whole host of fellow bloggers there – some for the first time, and some for the umpteenth time. It was great to meet up with everyone and to put names to faces of people whom I only knew if there name began with @. Joe from the society looked at us extremely well and we marched through some exceptional whiskies including a lovely 28 year old Clynelish and a wonderfully peaty 10 year old Port Charlotte. I was so busy catching up with people that notes were limited but I did manage to make some on the rather good first two whiskies of the day. Thanks must go to Joe for his hospitality and for the great recommendations and offerings of whisky.
Bottled Essence of Summer SMWS 106.18 52.6% [Cardhu]
This whisky is unlike the standard distillery offerings. Almost naked in flavour it really shows off the quality of whisky from Cardhu. Lovely.
Nose: Gloriously heathery, very fruity. Lots of chocolate and coffee
Palate: Initial bitter touches (not unpleasant) followed by chocolate and flowers
Finish: Long and gentle
Thanksgiving Dram SMWS G10.1 59.6% [Strathclyde]
A delightful grain whisky that we were lucky enough to taste ahead of its release. Well worth considering for a purchase.
Nose: Heavy varnish and palma violets. Like a fine perfume
Palate: I’ve not eaten it but I imagine furniture polish tastes similar to this. This faded leaving pink peppercorns and vanilla. Very spicy
Finish: Short, lots of alcohol which vanished quickly
The actual Whisky Live show was held at the Royal Artillery Company. I arrived with Alwynne (of Miss Whisky fame), Dave (Whisky Republic) and Adrian (My Name Is Gone) and we met the rest of the crew there. After dropping of coats and bags it was time to hit the show. First stop was to see Celine at the Compass Box stand. It was great to catch up and have my first taste of Great King Street (New York Blend). A full review will appear soon but needless to say this is a superb whisky – Its like the ‘normal’ version but with a deep and mysterious smokey edge. After a catch up with Marcin and Selena (LVMH) I popped by the Master of Malt stand and caught up with Cat over a dram of That Boutique-y Whisky Company Clynelish (a distillery that is fast becomming one of my favourites!).
Following the Trade Masterclass (below) it was time to visit Balcones. I’d neglected to visit their stand during The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show last year so I made sure I hit their stall this time. I had a brief chat with the delighful Chip and enjoyed some pretty special drams including Balcones Brimstone Ressurrection (think Brimstone turned up to 11) and Rumble to name a couple.
It was then time to visit Ian Logan from Glenlivet and I had the pleasure of doing so in the company of Steve Rush (The Whisky Wire) and Andrew Purslow (Ardbaggie). We spent 15 minutes in the Glenlivet lounge and I opted to try their new make spirit which had been created only a week or so earlier. I always find it interesting to try some raw sprit as it gives you a really good insight into the whisky you ultimately end up drinking and really allows you to begin to understand the character of a distillery.
My final stop of the day was to visit a stand with who’s whisky I am falling more and more in love with – Mackmyra. I met Alwynne at the stand and we tasted through a good number of the range including Vit Hund (Mackmyra’s new spirit watered down to 46.1% and packaged in a brown paper bag), the Special 05 (matured in casks that held lingonberry and blueberry wine), the Special 07 (casks previously held cloudberrys) and the Special 08 (ex Sauternes casks). I would urge every reader to investigate Mackmyra – you will not be disappointed!
World Whisky Award Masterclass
While at the show I had the pleasure of attending the recently announced World Whisky Award Masterclass, and by ‘recently announced’ I mean the night before, so this really was a chance to enjoy some award winners ‘hot of the press’. I had the pleasure of being in the company of Tim (TWEBlog), Tom (iFotou), Steve (Steve Prentice) and Danny (Dram Stats).
Glenkinchie 12 [40%]
Winner of Best Lowland Single Malt. I visited Glenkinchie a few years ago on honeymoon so this distillery has a special place in my heart. This is the 12 year old that replaced the standard 10 year old that was produced when I visited.
Nose: Fruity, full of apples and gooseberry
Palate: Lots of vanilla and spices. Lovely notes of ginger nut and creme brûlée
Finish: Long and spicy
Balcones True Blue [50%]
Winner of American Whiskey – Best Non Bourbon. This is a whiskey made from blue corn (?) and is best described as a sherried Christmas pudding. It is rich and decadent.
Nose: Smokey, dusty and hot. Reminds me of chicken cooked on coals with a little gingerbread. It is deep and intense
Palate: Again this whiskey is hot and spicy. Gingerbread syrup
Finish: Huge, hot and burning (in a good way). Calls you back for more
Sullivans Cove [47.5%]
Winner of Best Australian Single Malt. Personally this whisky wasn’t for me; I found it a little too perfumery for my liking, but I was pleased with the opportunity to try it.
Nose: Slightly sour, full of banana’s and an almost Madeira wine quality
Palate: Pot poori and perfume
Finish: Long and sweet
Three Ships 10 [43%]
Winner of Best African Single Malt. A really good whisky with lots going on
Nose: Vanilla hit with some custard notes. Some subtle smoke
Palate: Light and balanced. A little hidden smoke
Finish: Lovely remains of peat and citrus notes
Taliskers Distillers Edition [45.8%]
Winner of Best Islands Single Malt No Age Statement. This is Talisker, it really need little introduction. A classic.
Nose: Full of the Talisker notes I love and remember – this time with a sweeter edge.
Palate: Pepper (obviously), sweet, peat and some cocoa powder
Finish: Quite short but utterly delicious
Master of Malt 40 Liqueur [43%]
Winner of the World’s Best Whisky Liqueur. This is incredibly sweet, perhaps a little too sweet for my palate but there is no denying the quality of the spirit.
Nose: Sweet, but with the whisky coming through. Leathery and winey with a good dose of brown sugar
Palate: Alcoholic Calpol in a glass. Nicely balanced
Finish: Short and sweet
All in all, this was a fabulous day out; some incredible whiskies tried, old friends caught up with and new friends made. Not bad for a cold day in March!