Just like last year I took the opportunity to combine a few days of mini holiday in London with attending the Whisky Exchange Whisky Show. This time I opted for the trade session only, which unlike 2011 was given the entire Monday (8th October) after the two public sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
It turned out the that five hours of the trade session is just not enough to appreciate everything that is on offer, especially when you also have a one hour masterclass. So I had to skip several exhibitors, unfortunately, and being so immersed in tasting whisky and chatting with whisky folks, I actually forgot to take proper pictures of the fantastic venue at Vinopolis.
The show was expanded quite a bit this year, with the upstairs area that used to hold the show brasserie now being used for additional exhibitor stands. The brasserie – again run by Martine Nouet – was relocated to a downstairs area, but it was closed for the trade session. A bit of a pity on one hand, but since trade visitors did not have to pay an entrance fee, this move is understandable from a cost management perspective. The food pairings were expanded as well this year, too bad there wasn’t enough time to give this section the appreciation it deserved.
A very interesting exhibitor who did not serve any whisky was the newly founded London Distillery from Battersea. Darren Rook explained the concept of the distillery to me that will feature separate stills for gin an whisky and may even be able to use their own water source below the building. I hope to return to London next year and pay the distillery a visit to see how things are moving on.
Of course I bumped into a lot of whisky people, many of which I had the pleasure to meet the first time in person like Angela d’Orazio of Mackmyra, Jenny Karlsson of Wemyss. The blogosphere was represented by Miguel Angel Blanch Lardin (A Wardrobe of Whisky), Dave Worthington (Whisky Discovery), Jon Bryant (Livingroom Whisky) and Alywinne Gwilt who is probably better known as the Miss Whisky. I also had quick chats with Eddie Ludlow of The Whisky Lounge, Dominic Roskrow and Balvenie brand ambassador Sam Simmons aka Dr. Whisky and his Chivas Bros. counterpart Ian Logan. Last but not least I had the pleasure of talking to German spirits freelancer Julia Nourney who happened to attend the same masterclass as me:
A Japanese Three Way
My expertise about Japanese whisky still is quite rudimentary, so I did not have to think long about signing up for this interesting masterclass. The special thing about it was that it was not held by a single person, but three representatives of the Japanese whisky industry.
Suntory brand ambassador Zoran Peric highlighted the history of Japan’s oldest whisky maker and their oldest distillery Yamazaki. Drams tasted were the Hakushu Heavily Peated and the Yamazaki 18 yo.
Bruce Perry of Nikka then took over and told the story of Masataka Taketsuru, the pioneer of Japanese whisky who after helping to establish Yamazaki opened his own distillery in Yoichi and later another one with Miyagikyo, both places specifically chosen for their climates, with Yoichi most closely matching that of Scotland. The Yoichi 12 yo and the Miyagikyo 12 yo were the drams here.
After the two big brands of Japanese whisky, Marcin Miller of Number One Drinks represented two of the smaller distilleries. Chichibu is a new craft distillery that only recently launched their first 3 yo whisky. Chichibu The First is pretty remarkable for its age, you can tell it is young, but it has already an amazing complexity. Quite in contrast to this is Karuizawa, the almost legendary distillery now closed forever, 400 casks was all that was left of the stock. One of the amazing Karuizawa single casks, a 1983 vintage, was a worthy final dram for this very instructive masterclass.
I tasted quite a few drams at the show, but the only one I took proper tasting notes for was the new Lagavulin 21 yo, simply because this brilliant whisky deserved it. I took quick notes for most of the other drams I had, except of the masterclass whiskies. Of course the scores are have a larger margin of error than those of ‘proper’ review tastings, but they should be accurate enough to give you an indication. I should add that I did make use of the spittoons that were abundand at the show – well, not by spitting bit dumping remainders. Otherwise progressive inebriation would have taken its toll, and that’s no good for scoring whisky. The drams are listed in order of tasting.
- anCnoc Peter Arkle 2nd Edition – Honey, vanilla, strong bourbon cask influence, mild spice, only little fruit – 85/100 (revised score: 83/100)
- Rosebank 21 yo The Whisky Exchange – Light floral, slightly briny , perfect balance – 90/100
- Jameson 18 – Fruity and creamy potstill character, delicious – 86/100
- Terenpeli Kaski Oloroso Sherry (Finland) – Quite meaty, pine and prunes, odd but interesting – 80/100
- Balcones True Blue – Very spicy, nutty, slightly herbal, popcorn, strange – 78/100
- Glenrothes 40 yo The Whisky Exchange – Light body, tropical fruit, tea, wood influence just perfect – 89/100
- Longmorn 20 yo Adelphi 59.1% – Nuts, toffee, vanilla, mediterranean herbs – 87/100
- Paul John (India) – Liquorice, lime, cinnamon, mint – 82/100
- Glenfarclas Family Cask 1963 – Rather light sherry, very gentle wood, mild spices, slightly savoury – 89/100
- Macallan Gold – Toasted nuts, hint of toffee, just a little fruit, rather light in character – 81/100
- Tomatin 30 yo – Tropical fruit bomb, strong wood – 90/100
- Tamnavulin 40 yo The Whisky Exchange – Sweet shop, mint and toffee – 85/100
- Glengoyne 40 yo The Whisky Exchange – Christmas pudding, dried fruit, borderline wood but still great – 91/100