London Whisky Show 2014 – Day 1
I spent a weekend that I can write a book on; not just a blog post. The Whisky Show 2014 that took place on October 4-5th in London is one of the largest and best whisky events in Europe, and one struggles to find where to start writing after that impressive weekend; tasting over 60 drams and coming back home with notebooks overflowing with tasting notes and impressions. It’s not possible to summarize all my tasting notes in one post, so different posts will follow.
I’m heading towards Vinopolis on a rainy London morning. I havent yet reached the door but there’s this long queue of whisky enthusiasts. After a brief moment of disappointment, I realize that in fact it’s a great pleasure to meet & socialize with the other whisky lovers from around Europe waiting in line. It takes almost 20 minutes for me to get inside and hold my tasting glass. I have the urge to run inside and taste everything there but I need to control myself. There are over 500 different expressions and I already have narrowed down my list to the bottles that I have no chance to find in Turkey or the duty free shelves. Apart from my long list, I’ve purchased tickets to 3 masterclasses, so I give myself 20 minutes to get around, discover the venue and plan effectively. There’re sessions where well-known authors sign their books; I had in mind to get the new print for The World Atlas of Whisky, by the great Dave Broom, but I managed to get a ticket for his masterclass in the afternoon so I decide to pass this first morning session and wait for the masterclass after which I will go and meet him. That will be a great finish to my first day at the Show.
Im starting my day with Japanese whiskies. Just as I expected, Nikka Miyagikyo 15 yo and Nikka Pure Malt 21yo happen to be great starters for the day. My second stop is the nearby Indian whiskies that I’ve been hearing for some time; so I head to the Paul John stand where they attend the show with 4 expressions (Classic, Brilliance, Edited & Peated) These single malts are all produced in India which is home to some of the greediest angels on earth (12% angels’ share) and I have to admit that, with great surprise, I love the nose of these bottles and admire their balanced body.
The first masterclass is about to start. On the way, I find myself holding a Springbank 15 yo glass. It’s so difficult to find Campbeltown whiskies in Istanbul so even if I planned to cover this stand later, I simply couldn’t stop myself. I have to leave and actually run around to find the masterclass room. The Whisky Show has several parallel sessions and Vinopolis is a very large venue on couple of floors so I find the room a bit last minute. It’s an amazing line-up of one of my favorites, The Glenfiddich, and we are going to experience the Glenfiddich journey over the decades with the brand ambassador Mike Thompson. I’m really excited to see the glasses on the table (as you see in the photo, the first glass is empty but of course I asked for a full one since I cannot miss a Glenfiddich Pure Malt)
As you see in the picture, this is a tasting event with real rare expressions. For me the most prominent feature of this session is how Glenfiddich changed character over the years.
When we realized that the last bottle without the label holds the 10.000 USD/bottle 38 yo expression for the Chinese market I have to say that I was real excited. For most of the attendees this last bottle was the best for this line up, however the star for me was the unusual, long necked second bottle which is the Classic 43%. Many people were surprised by the peaty Anniversary Edition that was launched for the 125th Anniversary of the brand (4th bottle) I have to say that a “Glenfiddich pretending to be Islay” wasn’t particularly good for my taste. You can read all my detailed tasting notes here in the link.
Before the next masterclass I have some time, its a good chance to pass by the Bowmore stand to try Islay 18 and Tempest. Tempest turns out to be a great dram with its red pepper notes.
Next stop is the “From Port to Port Finish” masterclass by the great Martine Nouet. Martine is a lovely French lady who manages to combine the refined pleasures of life like whisky, wine, gourmet cooking and gastronomy. She discovers about the whisky culture while working on wine tasting and decides to live in Islay. In this session we have the chance to taste Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Edradour Port Cask, Balvenie Portwood 21yo, Laphroaig Cardeas and Kilchoman. The common denominator for all these whiskies is that they spent all or the last months of their maturation in Port casks. Balvenie Portwood is the star of this great session with its rosy notes. We hear great many interesting facts from Martine but the most striking one is how she noses a drop of her whisky on her wrist, just like perfume. It happens to be a great method to feel the grainy notes in your dram (provided that you dont wear perfume or just washed your hands with an aromatic soap)
From Port to Port Finish
It’s time to finish the day with the final masterclass: “What is Whisky” by Dave Broom, the author of The World Atlas of Whisky. Don’t be fooled by the name of the session, the master isnt giving a Whisky 101 class but instead presenting us the whiskies that push the boundaries of whisky making. We have a line up of French, Tasmanian and French whiskies as well as a very young whisky of 2 years, which is just drawn from the cask that morning. It’a great experince after which I have the cance to meet and chat this great guy. He appreciates the fact that I started the first Turkish blog on whisky culture, signs the latest edition of his book and sends his regards to the Turkish whisky enthusiasts.
Dave Broom – Burkay Adalig
Dave Broom signed his book for us
What is Whisky
It’ s almost 18:00; end of Day 1. The next day I have only one masterclass, so I leave the venue leaving my 10 GBP token drams for the 2nd day. In fact it’s not very easy to leave. Vinopolis also houses one of the largest whisky shops. I had in mind for a long time to buy the books The Science & Commerce of Whisky & Discovering Scotland Distilleries as well as the new edition of our bible “Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015”. Im also nearing the edn of my tasting notebook, so its time to buy some more of the great notebooks of The Whisky Exchange (http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-26129.aspx)
I’m now walking by the Thames river thinking about the next day that I will start a new notebook to fill in. I have a stupid smile on my face; I have no idea if thats because of the great drams I tasted (and drank) or if its being a part of this great event.