Alice in Whiskyland (pt. 3)

Whisky Live 2011 (Fri 4th Mar)

An event well worth attending.
Held at The Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House, a fantastic venue.

Flying solo again as many of my friends were put off by the price of tickets, £40 mark but included a few tasting vouchers and a food voucher. Additional vouchers could be purchased at the event. This did seem a little steep but hey, there was whisky to be tasted and with so many well known names under one roof it was an opportunity not to be passed up.

Added the Talisker Masterclass to the evening as I’ve not had too much experience with that particular distillery, and heard many good things about it.
Colin Dunn from Diageo would be leading the masterclass and I’d heard many good things about him too. Bonus!

Turns out the tasting vouchers were an attempt to be seen to be promoting responsible drinking, but in reality it was try all the whisky you liked and none of the stands were enforcing the voucher system.
The food voucher did come in handy and the meal was rather good with a selection of hearty stews, mash and chocolatey dessert. In my opinion definitely £40 well spent.

Now on to the whisky!
The masterclass was most entertaining. Colin Dunn is a certifiable nutter, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s passionate, entertaining and extremely knowledgeable.
We tried 6 varieties: New Make, Talisker 10, Distillers Edition Amoroso Finish, Talisker 57 North, Talisker 18 and finally a cask sample of an unbottled whisky.

Being new to Talisker, I was pretty much a blank canvas and really pleased I had booked the masterclass. We tried the Amoroso Finish with dark chocolate which was sublime. The one that really stood out for me was the 57 North. It flooded the mouth with smooth warm slightly peppery gorgeousness and the pleasure lingered long after the last drop was swallowed. I shall be acquiring a bottle post haste.

The Amoroso Finish came in second (with and without the chocolate). Then the 10 followed by the 18. Obviously the New Make was there for comparison and education and the Cask Sample I would imagine still needs some work.
A chance to chat to Colin more came later in the evening at the Diageo stand, funny guy and I look forward to more events with him hosting.

Thankfully I had the pleasure of Jason (The Whisky Squad) and Billy (Billy’s Booze Blog) as company for the evening, so I wasn’t fumbling around blind when it came to tasting all that was on offer. The people manning the stands were friendly and helpful. Some a little surprised at my adventurousness at trying their wares. I guess the assumption still stands that girls don’t like complex challenging whisky. My palate has certainly undergone a fair bit of education recently and I would have agreed with that assumption 6 months ago. The more I learn the better I understand, and enjoy. I am forming a clearer picture of what I like and dislike.

Grain whisky is also becoming a favourite (and more specifically single grain), which is fragrant and light and quite drinkable. Hedonism being a great example of a blended grain. The 10yr Anniversary edition a delicious single grain, as was the Clan Denny I tried Friday on night.

A taste for the more smokey peaty whiskies is developing, evident by my love for Compass Box Peat Monster. Big Peat was another I enjoyed that evening, but this was slightly more subtle.

Intrigued by Japanese whisky, and it would seem so were all the other attendees at Whisky Live as I couldn’t get near the stand. Caol Ila was also on the list to sample but it wasn’t to be.

Jason and I managed to blag me into to the Glenlivet VIP area (he’s a member) and after asking rather nicely we were allowed to taste the ‘64. Left me a little underwhelmed and it may come in at just under £1,000 a bottle, but I didn’t find it to be all that special.
The pistol cufflinks in the goodie bag are awesome though!

Being introduced to Richard “The Nose” Patterson, master blender, was quite an honour. He thrust a glass in my direction instructing me to keep the liquid in my mouth for at least 30 seconds before swallowing. Turns out it was the Dalmore 40yo (yes that would be almost £1,400 a bottle!!). I was fairly squiffy at this point but do remember it being rather nice.

By now the security staff were heavy handedly shutting down all the stands but managed to swing by Compass Box and Chris (who led the tasting the previous evening) was kind enough to let me try Flaming Heart which had won Dave Broom’s blind tasting masterclass earlier on.

The socialising, the tasting, had all turned into a blissful blur and I skipped home merrily still buzzing from a fabulous evening.

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