TWE Whisky Show 2014: Daryl’s Rambling Travelogue
2014 marks the first time I’ve had chance to visit a Whisky festival, and it certainly won’t be my last. Leaving it nearly too late to buy a ticket I had only the Sunday option left available to me so missed out on meeting Matt and Jon there. I still decided to make a weekend of it, heading to London on the Saturday. I stayed in the trusty and reliable Lynton Hotel that I have used on a few occasions before and it’s conveniently located just around the corner from Victoria Coach Station. I also made good use of the local restaurant The Ebury to get my fill of quality food.
I turned up at The Whisky Exchange nice and early, and was quite glad I did because it wasn’t long before a long snaking line built up. Checking twitter to see what people had seen at the previous day’s dramming I could feel the excitement and expectation building. It wasn’t long before 11:30 rolled around and we were ushered in to pick up our wristbands and glasses.
Upon entering the arched ceilinged venue I was the veritable kid in a sweet shop (albeit an alcohol infused sweet shop). Being a fan of Glenfarclas and Sherried whiskies I started with their 30 year old offering. It welcomed me with a rich, fruity, Sherried raisins and Cognac nose. A thick thick mouth-feel with juicy grapes and toasted wood, finishing warm, spicy and creamy. I then moved on next door to Paul John, I had enjoyed their Brilliance a few weeks previous at a SWWIG tasting. Deciding against their peated malt I tried their lightly peated Edited version, a nice sweet peat dram with a light earthy character.
Moving onto another favourite distillery of mine I arrived at the Balblair stand. I decided to use my Dream Dram token early before my palate became too fatigued. The Balblair 1969 is 43 years old and matured in remade Bourbon hogsheads. This Balblair has a syrupy Bourbon vanilla nose. Malty with fudge. It’s matured extremely well, with a vibrant freshness and a great spicy/woody flavour. A very long vanilla wood finish, excellent! Next was the Blablair Single cask and Nikka Taketsuru 21 years old. I decided to stop with the Springbank 18 before the 12:30 Ian Buxton Master Class. Springbank 18 is Sherry and Bourbon matured with a 6 hour smoking over peat. A sweet Sherry nose, whiffs of smoke and oily. To taste it’s smooth, juicy with oranges, lemons and malty spice.
Let me start by saying what an engaging, knowledgeable and interesting fellow Ian Buxton is. Also what a bargain this tasting was, only £30 including 5 Whiskies and a copy of Ian’s book. Ian Buxton encouraged crowd participation, asking people to call out tasting notes, which made for a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
First off was The Girvan Patent Still No. 4 Apps. a really nice grain whisky, smelling sweet, perfumed, floral and grainy. Next was the Irish pot still Green Spot. A musty hay nose, with creamy oiled wood. To taste creamy, burnt sugars and caramel. One of my favourites was next to be drammed, you can find my tasting notes for Hibiki 12 here. Michter’s 20 year old Bourbon followed, fantastic. Big sweet corn, perfumed with Christmas cake. In the mouth loads of toffee, sweet wood and rye spice.
To finish we had Talisker 25 year old. Wow. Sweet peat and earthy. Vanilla Bourbon. An incredible nose. Tasting it has light peat and is phenolic. Sweet. Light cocoa and sweet toffee. A satisfying dram session. I recorded a quick video of the Master Class to test my new camera’s video quality. Watch it here.
After Ian Buxton I decided to stop for lunch, but the Whisky didn’t stop there, oh yes it was in the food too. For my main I went for the smoked haddock kedgeree with a light curry sauce containing Kilchoman Machir Bay, wow. Dessert was a brilliant sticky toffee pudding with Singleton of Dufftown Tailfire an extremely tasty combo. Having had my fill of tidy food I went onto my afternoon tasting.
Afternoon drams included more Springbank, Glenfarclas and Balblair . I particularly enjoyed the Kilchoman Port cask. A big Whisky with strong phenolic peat and Port notes. Purchasing 2 more Dream Dram tokens I tried the Laphroaig 25 year old, which to be honest didn’t blow me away. Then the Hakushu 25 year old, a phenomenal lightly peated Japanese Whisky. A few drams later I called it a day, purchased some bottles from the shop and made my way back to the hotel. I had a fantastic time and enjoyed chatting to many like minded people. And after all that amazing Whisky I finished off with a night cap of Bailie Nicol Jarvie (which goes to show how great this blend is).
My full sample list:
Glenfarclas 30 year old
Paul John Edited
Balblair 1969 (Dream Dram)
Taketsuru 21 year old
Balblair 2000 single cask (Whisky Exchange exclusive)
Springbank 18 year old
Girvan Patent Still No. 4 Apps
Hibiki 12 year old
Michter’s Single Barrel Bourbon 20 year old
Talisker 25 year old
Chichibu On The Way 3 year old
Hakushu 25 year old (Dream Dram)
Yamazaki 12 year old
Kilchoman Port Cask
Kilkerran Sherry Wood 10 year old (not yet released)
Springbank Organic 12 year old Bourbon cask (not yet released)
Glenfarclas 105 20 year old
Laphroaig 25 year old (Dream Dram)
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Heavily Peated
Glenfiddich Rich Oak