Visit to Whisky Live London 2011, Part 2
As I wrote at the end of part 1, in this part, and the one after, I will share my experience of Whisky Live as a whisky exhibition, and I think I’ll have another part about the masterclasses attended (the one Richard and I attended, and another Raviv and Ben did).
Short disclaimer that also can be found in a way in the previous part – though there are video bits in this post, I do not try to be or imitate Ralfy Mitchell. Originally these were taken as an easy way to store answers to questions, but due to amount of material I decided it will be easier to bring the videos themselves. The quality of sound is not that great as I was using a camera which primary goal is still photography (Canon G12). And oh yea – they are cut roughly just to make them short as possible.
As I entered the main hall I was a bit overwhelmed, let alone say confused. Unlike wine shows I attend, here I just didn’t know where to start and while I were looking around me, I saw the stand of Douglas Laing and Co., which own amongst other brands, The Old Malt Cask, Provenance, and Big Peat. The stand was manned by Jan Beckers, who was kind enough to answer a few questions and tolerated my ‘out-of-balance’ state (I forgot my small camera in my bag, was holding the wrong things etc., and I asked his patience while I went back to the bag to fix all that). Jan also played along and repeated his tip for whisky drinkers so I can video record it (see below).
Jan Beckers presenting Douglas Laing and Co.
The whiskies presented by Douglas Laing and Co. were mostly aged single malts (of ‘The Old Malt Cask’ brand) but there were few other bottles as well. These included a 1972 vintage, 37YO Single Grain Scotch Whisky, of which Jan poured me a small dram. This was the first single grain I ever tasted, and though I understand that the age has a lot to play here, I sure want to try more as this was a very good and smooth whisky.
Jan, who is titled ‘Malt Ambassador’ at Douglas Laing and Co. is responsible for marketing and also takes part in their casks selection. He has been with the company for the past three years. When I asked him about his favourite whiskies, I was surprised to be answered ‘single grain whiskies’. In his own words – “Grain whisky, if been long enough in casks, can make a desert on its own”. Jan concluded with the following tip for whisky lovers –
After departing with Jan, I continued to a stand where some Islay whiskies of different distilleries were being poured, but more interesting was a movie segment (in HD) showing on a big flat screen TV next to them. Olav Verhoeven from Belgium, had spent time on Islay making a full feature, hour long, documentary named ‘WHISKY. the Islay edition’ which tells the story of whisky via that of Islay and its distilleries. Being the Islay fan that I am, I purchased a copy of Olav’s movie, though unfortunately didn’t have time to watch yet; when I do (hopefully soon), I think I’ll post a review so stay tuned. Olav was happy to allow me to conduct a short and interesting interview with him about himself, movie and whisky –
Leaving my newly purchased copy with Olav for safe keeping (for the meantime), I continued to the Chivas Brothers stand. An impressive delegation of The Glenlivet bottles were posing on one table, whereas on the second table an Aberlour team was showing off enforced by a Scapa 16 and a Longmorn 16. In charge of these were Dave Broider (Australian fellow) and Charlie McCarthy (Irishman), both freelance bartenders who work often with Chivas, and also, Phil Huckle the ‘UK Brand Ambassador’ for Chivas Brothers.
Top picture: Charlie with an Aberlour A’bunah at hand
Bottom picture, Left to right: Charlie, Phil and Dave presenting the Glenlivets
I started at the Glenlivet table and though I didn’t taste any as I was to attend a Glenlivet masterclass later, I had a nice chat with Dave. As I was told that lately it seems that many whisky producers bring out more and more NAS expressions, I decided to ask Dave who had worked at many festivals and whisky events, about his take on the matter. Dave told me that he actually doesn’t see such a trend at all and pointed out the fact that even at the Chivas Brothers table, as well as around the room, most whiskies have an age statement. He agrees that more NAS whiskies do come out, but he believes this is in order to enrich the whisky market and give consumers more choices and flavours to try and enjoy. In addition to the NAS topic, Dave elaborated about being a freelance bartender and gave his tips about whisky –
When I moved to speak with Charlie, Richard of WhiskyIsrael Society joined me, proving how time flies as this meant that the “press hour” was over. As I was about to ask Charlie some questions, Richard had a Longmorn related complain he had to make, but I did manage to “steal” Charlie’s attention back (note that the next video is really poorly edited) –
We asked Charlie to try the Aberlour 18, a most delicious whisky, 100% Sherry oak matured, as Phil added. Together with Charlie, Richard and I analysed the nose and what we got were dried fruits, raisins, plums, blood oranges, prunes and dates (Charlie called it Christmas cake). Charlie also added, that throughout the Aberlour range, people mention they get a touch of mint which even at the distillery they cannot explain where it comes from. On the palate I also got the sherry, red ripe grapes and plums. A really great whisky.
Chivas Brothers had a unique attraction in the from of a special ‘gentlemen’s club’ balcony accessible only to The Glenlivet Guardians. Phil Huckle assisted Richard and me to become Guardians right there and then, and thus enabled us to go up and see what is was all about. In this balcony ‘club’, Ian Logan, Chivas Brothers’ ‘International Brand Ambassador’ and/or ‘The Glenlivet Guardian of Malt’ (I took two business cards from him), was entertaining more ‘guardians’ one of them being Sir Colin Hampden-White which you might recall from part 1. Ian offered us all, not only a great chat with him, but also on top of the Glenlivet expressions offered downstairs at the stand, a chance to try the limited ‘Founder’s Reserve’ and ‘Cellar Collection 1964’ expressions.
Ian Logan presenting the ‘Founder’s Reserve’
The ‘Founder’s Reserve’ is a unique bottling (and an exquisite dram), made in honour of the distillery reopening after a massive expansion and was presented to HRH Prince Charles when he came for that event. The 1200GBP a bottle ‘Cellar Collection 1964’ whisky, of which only 1824 bottles were ever made (representing the year when the distillery was open), was a real treat. I could sit with that one whisky all night long. Amazing nose filled with red apples, dried fruits, herbs and scents I just don’t have enough knowledge to recognise, and followed by an equally full body mouth-feel, fruity, creamy and seductive. Wile I was busy sniffing my glass, Richard had an interesting conversation with Ian (please note the next video is rather long at 9 minutes) –
Going down from the balcony, I asked Colin for his opinion on the ‘Cellar Collection 1964’. He thought it was very nice, fine dram and said something about just having finished his Glenlivet 1973 back home which made me want to interview, who I knew then as a whisky-enthusiast freelance-photographer, and whom I later found out, attends all the major whisky events including the recent Gordon and Macphail announcement of the Glenlivet 70YO. So after we collected our Glenlivet ‘goodies’ bag (Glenlivet 18 mini, postcards and pistol shaped cufflinks), I had a short interview with Colin –
The main hall as was seen from the Glenlivet balcony
Richard and I continued on to the Glendronach and BenRiach stand, and that will start the next part in this set of posts.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the read so far. See you in the next parts.