It has become almost a tradition that I use the Whisky Exchange Whisky Show in London as an excuse for a small holiday at the beginning of October. Apart from popping over to London I also decided to spend a few days in Paris afterwards.
While the TWE show at Vinopolis is running for three days (5th to 7th October this year), I took the liberty to only visit the trade session on the final day, spending Saturday and Sunday mainly enjoying being in London again.
On Saturday evening I met up again with Spanish Blogger Miguel from A Wardrobe Of Whisky. We selected the Brittania in Southwark not far from the show venue which constantly is mentioned in lists of the best London whisky bars.
The bar is very well hidden between Guy’s Hospital and ugly social housing high risers, a location that is an effective measure against random visitors. The place itself is quite nice, and the empty whisky boxes lining the windows give you a glimpse of what you might expect from their whisky selection of over 100 single malts which according to their menu should “keep even the most earnest of whisky lovers jolly for a while”.
The Britannia’s whisky selection is indeed impressive. Far less impressive is the fact that they don’t have nosing glasses because of the risk of theft, as I was told. Not too jolly if you ask me, and I didn’t feel compelled to spend much money on whisky here. The food is decent but the music is too loud for more than casual chat, let alone enjoy whisky.
An hour before the Monday trade session a jolly group of whisky bloggers met up for a coffee around the corner to warm up for the event, including Dave Worthington from Whisky Discovery and his daughter Kat, the guys from LivingRoom Whisky and Franck Debernardi from La Cave de Cobalt to name but a few. After the prophylactic caffeine injection the event was about to begin.
Yet again the TWE show had changed the layout a bit. This year, everything was happening on the ground floor of the caveronous Vinopolis complex. The official list of whiskies on pour was almost 500 bottles long, but not all of them were still available on Monday. And even discounting well-known drams there were far more whiskies left to try than anyone could ever taste in a single session. I tried to do my best to tackle this luxury problem. Apart from a few proper tasting notes that will appear soon in the rating section, here is the list of drams I tasted with quick tasting notes and score in chronological order. Again I have to thank the organisers for the generous supply of spittoons. No, I didn’t spit, but they came in very handy for not having to empty each and every glass.
- Glen Mhor 1982 Cask 1606 Signatory – Very light, spicy fruit, delicate, 86
- Edradour 2006 for TWE – Rich, nutty, fruity, active cask, 85
- Chichibu Port Pipe – Strong port influence, 81
- Chichibu Chibidaru Quarter Cask – Vanilla, spices, quite mature, 86
- Karuizawa Asama 1999/2000 – Smooth, fruity, very sippable, 84
- Karuizawa 30 bourbon cask – Killer nose, quite some wood, very complex, endless finish, 89
- Karuizawa 31 sherry cask – Very typical, herbal sherry, very rich, 91
- Wemyss Lord Elcho – Smooth, very delicate, malty, 82
- Wemyss Clynelish “Toffee Glaze” – Unusually rich for a Clynelish, mild spices, vanilla, 86
- Wemyss Glen Garioch “Brandy Casket” – Mild wood spices, oriental touch, slighty fragrant, 85
- Hudson Baby Bourbon – Immature nose, rough palate, odd taste, 67
- Elements of Islay Ar3 – Rich sherry with peat, unusual, lots in there, 88
- Elements of Islay Pl2 – Strong wood, spicy, medicinal, 87
- Aultmore 1997 BBR – Nutty fruit, very good balance, lovely, 87
- Invergordon 1988 BBR – Creamy, rather typical grain but quite light, 85
- Glenlivet 1974 BBR – Very fruity, a lot of wood but in a good way, 90
- Compass Box Delilah’s – Very much in bourbon style, strong vanilla and popcorn, 84
- Compass Box Great King Street Experimrntal 00 V4 – Light sherry, lots of toffee, mild spice, 84
- Compass Box Great King Street Experimrntal TR 06 – Smoky, bacon, caramel, mild spice, 86
- Bowmore Tempest Batch 4 – Lovely mix of peat and tropical fruit, oriental spices, 87
- Caol Ila 25 yo – Very fruity, mild peat, mild spices, 87
- Chivas Royal Salute 21 yo – Mild, fruity, creamy, watery, 82
- Laphroaig An Cuan Mor – Quite typical profile, but slightly bitter notes, 84
- Mortlach 25 yo Adelphi – Rich and meaty but quite woody, nice spices, 86
- Macallan 22 yo Adelphi – Typical with a nice nuttiness, 87
- Blair Athol 20 DL Old Particular – Rich and fruity, mild spices, nothing stands out, 84
- North British 50 DL Director’s Cut – Fantastic sherry influence, not overpowering, borderline wood, 89
- Benriach 25 yo unpeated – Very fruity, dry wood, a bit sweet, 88
- Benromach 1976/2012 – Very good fruit, quite light, age does not show too much, 88
- Glen Grant 1948/2006 G&M – Magnificent, old but still young, 92
- Glengoyne 21 yo – Strong sherry, light spirit, Christmas dram, 87
- Macallan Ruby – Sweet sherry, slightly watery palate, 84
- Jura 21 yo – Good sherry, chocolate, dark fruit, 87
- Balmenach 25 Signatory for TWE – Slightly odd but good, apple, honey, nuts, 87
- Caol Ila 29 Signatory for TWE – Refill sherry, excellent, 90
- Longrow 18yo 2013 Edition – Great mix of peat and light sherry, strong sultanas, 88
- Kilchoman cask 473/2008 – Strong vanilla, strong cereal, still a bit immature, 81
- Clynelish 1996 TWE Masterpieces – Spicy, quite fruity, sweet shop, 87
- Caol Ila 18 yo TWE – Quite strong peat, trademark CI profile, 86
Phew! Please excuse the lack of a list of people I met at the show. I honestly could not remember them all, there were so many.
Once again the TWE show proved to be a brilliant event. I purposefully did not patricipate in any of the materclasses this year. So this time I finally had a chance to give Martine Nouet’s food parings a try. All of them were very good, but truly outstanding was the combination of Glenmorangie Signet with Tonka bean chocolate and Ardbeg Uigeadail with old Comté cheese.
I stayed in London one day longer, having been invited by SWMS ambassador John McCheyne to the Society rooms at Greville Street. We met in the evening for a beer and a few numbered drams and had a great chat about whisky and the rest of the world, only to be joined a bit later by TWE’s Billy Abbott.
The next day I travelled to Paris by train for a few more days of leisure and good food. A visit to La Maison du Whisky was mandatory as well of course. The shop is located pretty much in the midde between Madeleine and the fashionable Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, a prime location despite being in a quiet side street. It is spacious but not particularly big, but the whisky selection is pretty impressive, especially the bottles in the small side room devoted to rare whisky.
Originally I had planned to meet up with Nick Sikorsky with whom I already had the pleasure of conversing on Facebook. But as Nick had to go on a trip to Japan he handed me over to his friendly colleagues who offered me a few nice drams and sacrificed some of their time to chat with me.
This concluded this year’s whisky travels, plans for next year include the Spring Speyside Festival and Limburg.