Festival & Event Reviews

Whisky Live Festival Calendar Entry – Whisky Live News

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Whisky Live Festival Calendar Entry 

The world’s largest Whisky Live Festival opens its doors from 9 – 11 November 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre, showcasing the widest selection of whisky in SA under one roof! A range of luxury lifestyle products are accessible from 17h00, while the Tasting Hall opens at 18h00 until 22h00. Tickets are available at www.ticketpros.co.za starting from R220 and include a tasting glass, 16 tasting vouchers and a bottle of Consol Still Water.

For more information visit www.whiskylive.co.za, email info@whiskylive.co.za, Tweet us @whiskyliveSA or find us on Facebook at Whisky Live Africa.

 

Old Pulteney “The Latest from The Log Book” – Scotch Whisky News

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We’ve docked at Liverpool with award winning chef, Aiden Byrne

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We’re delighted to announce that our award-winning whisky has created a new and exciting partnership with one of the North of England’s leading chefs, Aiden Byrne.

So, whilst for many a single malt Scotch whisky is a delight usually refrained from until after dinner we hope you’ll agree that with a little food pairing inspiration from Aiden Byrne there’s no need to save your favourite whisky for the end of a meal!

Click here to read more and reveal a collection of inspired food pairings.

Mission to Seafarers Woolly Hat Day

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As you may know we’ve recently started working with The Mission to Seafarers – a wonderful charity caring for sailors around the world, providing a wide range of support from trauma counselling to simply helping them stay in touch with their families when out at sea.

The Mission to Seafarers have recently announced their latest initiative, the Woolly Hat Day. Woolly hats not only keep seafarers warm, they serve as a symbol of the vital service the charity provides. Hats knitted by volunteers around the world are handed out to sailors at support centres and during ship visits. But even if you can’t knit (it’s never been our strongest point either) you can still get involved by taking part in the campaign on social media or even donating a small amount to the Mission.

Click here to find out how you can get involved.

Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky, International Beverage, Moffat Mills, Towers Road,
Airdrie, Scotland, UK ML6 8PL

Wee Tipple at The Grand Hotel, Nanaimo, BC April 17th, 2015 – Whisky News

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Wee Tipple at The Grand Hotel, Nanaimo, BC

April 17th, 2015

Whisky Intelligence received a surprise phone call from Susie Sirri at the Grand Hotel in Nanaimo, British Columbia inviting your humble correspondent to attend their Wee Tipple fund raising event. Proceeds from the evening  go to support Crimson Coast Dance Society and along with a desire to attend this event after missing it for a number of years it didn’t take long to say ‘yes’!

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The Whisky Selection

On the 17th after a pleasant drive north we arrived in Nanaimo and quickly found the hotel and were checked into a very comfortable room on the 4th floor.  Soon after we were in the hotel restaurant having a very late lunch/very early dinner a short while before the event commenced with a few of the presenters catching up on their whisky news. The hotel sports a very, very good whisky selection with over 140 different whiskies and a Yamazaki 12yo was the dram of choice to set up the palate for the task ahead.

The Festival was scheduled to run from 7PM to 10PM and as the time approached the volunteers quickly processed the enthusiastic ticket holders and promptly at 7PM the doors opened and in everybody trooped, glasses at the ready.

The Festival was a ‘mixed’ event in that there were offerings other than whisky which can be a good thing if your spouse is not a whisky enthusiast.

Whisky Intelligence naturally maintained strict discipline and stayed true to form with the whiskies on offer.

Although it was a small Festival (which is a good thing) with only 150 tickets available there was a very good selection of whiskies from Amrut, Ardbeg & Glenmorangie, The Glenlivet, Tullamore Dew, Gibson’s Canadian, Blackadder, Kilchoman, Benromach, NIKKA, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Glenfarclas, Old Pulteney, Kavalan, Tullibardine, Glenfiddich, and Balvenie. There were also a couple of samples available from the newer growing category of flavoured whiskies Spice Box and Tap 357.

For those in the know there were also some very nice ‘under the table drams’ and those were a welcome addition to the evenings other samplings.

There was also an outstanding selection of food that was available all night and there was lots of it. Whisky Intelligence may have had a little too much to eat… the smoked mussels were simply out of this world. Compliments to the Chef for such an excellent selection.

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Generally music at Festivals can be over whelming but at this event the band managed to keep the volume at a level that didn’t make conversation an issue.

After a few hours it was time for a break. Happily an invitation had been received to the after party and shortly after 10PM it was in full swing in the Marrakesh Room. The Hotel decorated the room with Persian carpets, loads of pillows and themed wall coverings to make a relaxed space with everybody sitting comfortably on the floor. A variety of drams came out and the party went until at least 1AM when Whisky Intelligence called it a night.

If you have a chance to attend the 2016 Wee Tipple, do so and stay in the Grand Hotel, it’s a really nice hotel with friendly staff and a very good whisky selection.

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Whisky Lounge Newsletter October 2014 – Scotch Whisky News

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Autumn is here, it’s official!…

We love this time of year here at Whisky Lounge HQ. The leaves are turning, the schools are back but there is still a lingering warmth from the end of summer. Like the luxurious finish of your favourite dram…

Talking of which, after a crazy summer that has seen us take The Glenlivet and World Whiskies to new heights, plus the Beacons and Secret Garden Party festivals, we are ready for some good old fashioned autumn whisky shenanigans!

Those eagle-eyed of you may also notice a recent website upgrade. Our trusty mate Jason has been working hard to implement improvements to our antiquated payment ‘gateway’. Hopefully this should mean your ticket/gifting shopping experience is much smoother and faster…

So, ladies and gentlemen, we have the following for your delectation…

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We are delighted to welcome back to the warm embrace of The Whisky Lounge, a favourite independent bottler of ours… Douglas Laing & Co.

As one of the original TWL festival exhibitors we have always been keen to see them back.

However, not only are you going to be seeing more of them at our festivals, but to celebrate our reunion, we have decided to put on a special series dedicated to all things DL!

For the month of October we will have tastings at our usual venues plus our new and seemingly massively popular

TASTING FROM HOME PACKS!

Click on the relevant date and venue for further info and tickets…

DOUGLAS LAING – DATES AND VENUES:

LONDON Weds 8th OCT 7pm THE RED LION, CROWN PASSAGE
SHEFFIELD Tuesday 14th OCT 7pm THE TAP, SHEFFIELD STATION
LIVERPOOL Weds 15th OCT 7pm JENNY’S BAR, FENWICK ST.
LEEDS Thursday 16th OCT 7pm CROSSKEYS, WATER LANE
MANCHESTER Friday 17th OCT 7pm BRITONS PROTECTION
NEWCASTLE Friday 17th OCT 7pm BLACKFRIARS, FRIARS STREET
YORK Saturday 18th OCT 7pm BRIGANTES, MICKLEGATE
BRIGHTON Weds 22nd OCT 7pm LORD NELSON, TRAFALGAR ST.

Just click on the venue closest to you to book now. Click HERE for the tasting pack.

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WORLD WHISKIES TASTING PACK

Now, although the World Whiskies series is over as far as the venue tastings, we still have a few of these excellent tasting packs available. The feedback from everyone who has received them has been amazing so far.

For the paltry sum of £25 including delivery, you (or your loved one) gets a cute gift box with samples of the six whiskies, a tasting mat, a tasting guide and a pipette for adding small amounts of water.
It is an excellent tasting set for those interested in whisky in general, and world whiskies in particular. Click HERE to buy.

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OUR LAST WHISKY FESTIVAL OF 2014!

We hope to see many of you at our final festival of this year, in Manchester.

After the success of last year’s event, we are back in the Bridgewater Hall and as usual we will have the great and good of the whisky world in tow.

We are literally down to our last 50 or so tickets for this event so be quick or you WILL miss out! Click on the banner or HERE to get booking!

As a reminder, the session starts at 12pm and finishes at 5pm (last pour at 4.45pm). A half-day ticket entitles you entry from 2.30pm.

Aside from the usual tasting shenanigans in the main space, we also have a pair of special classes for you – a look at Paul John Indian Whisky with Eddie Ludlow and a joint class with Colin Dunn and Eddie Ludlow and a few of their favourite drams. Go to the website to get yourself booked into these – but only if you already have festival tickets!

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World Whiskies Review – Review!

Talking of World Whiskies, Joe has just finished writing the series up on the Blog. If you want to know what was tasted, where and how each whisky got on, click here or on the bannerabove.

You may also spot Joe’s review of the music festivals we attended which is also worthy of your attention.

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The Whisky Sessions

For those of you with an equal leaning towards music as whisky, we are going to be exhibiting and generally getting involved in this very exciting new project.

The emphasis is firmly on music – as you will see from the line-up, but the whisky element is equally important and as such there will be a smattering of fabulous whisky producers in the ‘Whisky Hotel’ which sits a little away from the main stages, for those who want to take it easy or ‘chill out’ I think they call it!

The event takes place on Friday and Saturday 21st & 22nd November and should definitely be worth your attention and attendance! Tickets start at £35. Click here to go to the Whisky Sessions website for more info and tickets.

WHISKY NEWS – A ROUND-UP
courtesy of

26th September 2014
Glenmorangie launches crowd sourced whisky

25th September 2014
Sweden’s Smogen Distillery launches its first…

24th September 2014
John Dewar and Sons launches Lost Great Malts…

23rd September 2014
anCnoc launch Vintage 2000

22nd September 2014
The Glenlivet launches rare Winchester Collection

19th September 2014
SWA Chief comments on Scottish Independence…

Johnnie Walker becomes official whisky of Formula 1

18th September 2014
The Ardmore Distillery releases Ardmore Legacy

15th September 2014
2014 Diageo Special Releases unveiled

The stills are alive at The Cotswolds Distillery

10th September 2014
Douglas Laing launch Timorous Beastie

9th September 2014
English Whisky Co. founder James Nelstrop dies

Second new permanent Glenlivet Nadurra release

4th September 2014
The Lakes Distillery launches Connoisseur’s Club

Management quarrel threatens Balcones Distillery

COMPETITION TIME!

And finally, we have two of our World Whisky Review tasting packs to give away to the person/s able to answer the following questions. As always, the quickest and most accurate answers win! Click here to send us your answers and don’t forget to include your full name and postal address.

1. Which country is the second largest producer of single malt whisky?
2. Which Indian distillery buys its peated malted barley from Scotland?
3. Which World Whisky distiller has built a second distillery that employs a ‘gravity fed’ technique?
4. Which is the largest distillery in Tasmania?
5. What is the Yorkshire connection with Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky?

NEXT MONTH

News of Feis Ile 2015, 2015 Whisky Festivals and our final series of the year – our world famous Blind Islay tastings are back!

Have a great month and see you over a dram or two soon we hope.

Slainte,
Eddie, Amanda and Joe
The Whisky Lounge Team.

A Visit to The Cowichan Valley Whiskey Festival – Whisky News

Riedel Vinum Bar Leaded Crystal Single Malt Whisky Glass, Set of 8

The Cowichan Valley Whiskey Festival

The Cowichan Valley Whiskey Festival ( http://www.cvwhiskeyfest.ca/ ) was held on the evening of 12th April at the Ocean Front Suites at Cowichan Bay. Tickets were purchased on-line via their website and a simple receipt was generated; no actual tickets. Hmmm. Perhaps they would follow in the mail? No such luck at the intervening time revealed.

Later in the month when we drove up to attend the festival we stopped in at the sponsoring liquor store as to inquire if we were to collected our tickets from the store, at the festival or was the receipt enough?? Nobody seemed to have a clue but we were greatly reassured by the casual “you should be OK with the receipt”. How encouraging!

While checking into the hotel, located in the very picturesque Cowichan Bay, we overheard another festival goer as he collected his tickets which he had bought a package of ticket & hotel room, the later at a discounted rate, from the hotel directly. There was no mention of this option on the CV Whiskey Festival website and the link from the festival website to the hotel website didn’t lead to any special offers for festival attendees. This was mildly irritating.   

Soon we were checked into the hotel by the very helpful front desk staff and were ready for the festival; quite possibly our trusty receipt would do the trick and gain us access….the front desk staff didn’t know and there wasn’t anybody from the festival available to ask.

The festival had three masterclasses featuring BenRiach, Compass Box and the Macallan 1824 series. The venue for the Masterclasses was quite small however it was perfectly suitable for the three events although it was hard to spot anybody from the festival. A few of the attendees pitched in to help set up one masterclass thus ensuring that it started on time;  possibly they were rewarded with a dram or two later by the grateful presenter. It always adds a level of unwelcome complexity for a presenter if they have to set up and pour their own masterclass. Unfortunately the glass ware for the masterclass was completely unsuitable and we were quite surprised to see giant wine glasses in use; it’s basic festival planning, make sure you have suitable glass ware! The now well-worn receipt didn’t merit a glance and nobody seemed to know how many tickets had been sold to the masterclass, how is this even possible??

After the masterclass it was soon time to really give the receipt a test and it worked!  The check-in was via the issue of a wrist band and we soon discovered where all the volunteers were hiding – in the check in area! As well as the wrist band we were given a Riedel ‘vinum single malt whisky glass’. A Riedel glass?? C’mon, they are hopeless for sampling whisky and there’s no point in trying to use them for nosing. They are very good for putting small bunches of cut flowers in however.

A quick tour of the room revealed a fantastic location with the entire front of the room offering a stunning view of the Cowichan Bay with floor to ceiling windows The tables were stocked with a good selection of basic whiskies and …….beer. That explains the Riedel glasses…. Now at Whisky Intelligence we’re not great supporters of the mixing of spirits and feel that it diminishes all the products on offer but no matter since we suspect that we’re in the minority in this regard. A further survey of the didn’t reveal any tables with bottles of water, again basic festival fare, however after some searching a large carafe of cold water was located in a corner table and it seemed to be kept full throughout the evening.

Since there was so little on offer that had not been sampled before, a retreat was made to the hotel room to watch a movie and have a good pour of a Scotch Malt Whisky Society 1985 71.35 Glenburgie, and not from the Riedel vinum! It was reported the next morning that at the end of the festival all the Riedel glasses were collected by the volunteers. All except one!

While there has been some carping by your correspondent about various aspects of the festival, in the end, it worked and people seemed to have had a genuinely good time. There was plenty of whisky to sample and all the volunteers, when encountered, were friendly and helpful. The live entertainment was enjoyed by the attendees and it is a great venue. At the end of the day they delivered a good product in a fantastic location and some carping by a lone voice shouldn’t dissuade anybody from attending in the future. But please festival organizers, invest in some proper whisky glass ware! These people will help you with your Glencairn needs http://whiskyglass.ca/

Pour List

Tomatin 12 & 18 Year Old, Glenkinchie 12yr, Oban 14yr, Dalwhinnie 15yr, Cragganmore 12yr, Talisker 10, Lagavulin 16yr, George Dickel 12yr Bourbon, George Dickel Rye, Bulleit Rye, Tullamore Dew, Wild Turkey, Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, Aberfeldy 21 Year Old, Dewars Highlander Honey, Glenfarclas 15 Year Old, Glenfarclas 17 Year Old, Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength, Brown Foreman Jack Daniel’s, Gentlemen Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Collingwood, Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s Honey, The Glenlivet 12, The Glenlivet 15, The Glenlivet 16, Nadurra, The Glenlivet 18, Aberlour Double Cask Matured 12 yr, The Macallan 1824 Gold, The Macallan 1824 Amber, The Macallan 1824 Sienna, The Macallan 1824 Ruby, Highland Park 10, Highland Park 12, Highland Park 18, Laphroaig 10 & Quartercask, Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon, Evan Williams Cinnamon, Evan Williams Honey, Elijah Craig 12 yr. old Bourbon, Glenmorangie Original, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or, Ardbeg 10 yr old, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon, Tullibardine Sovereign Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Writer Tears Irish Pot Still Whiskey and Amrut Fusion Single Malt.

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Rarest Whisky by Duncan Taylor Wins Gold – Scotch Whisky News

Rarest Wins Gold
Duncan Taylor are proud to announce the Rarest Collection has won a Gold Award at the World Wide Whisky Design Awards for 2012, a fully independent competition. This is a great achievement for both the new brand and Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky.

Kensington Spring Single Malt Whisky Festival REVIEW – Thursday June 9th, 2011 – Scotch Whisky News

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The Travels of Whisky Intelligence – Kensington Spring Single Malt Whisky Festival – Thursday June 9th, 2011

Kensington Wine Mart (KWM) in Calgary, Alberta hosts a Single Malt Festival twice yearly in the Spring (Spring is usually tardy in Alberta and quite frankly it can snow at any second no matter what time of the year) and Fall; due to space constraints the Festival is limited to 100 participants. The extensive wine racks  are pushed back to make space, the beer is ignored,  the tables for the various brands & distilleries are shoe horned in as best they can and an extensive array of whiskies is offered to the lucky few whom are able to attend. Whisky Intelligence was one of the lucky attendees this Spring, our attempt to attend in the Fall of 2010 ended before it began due to extremely poor flying weather and aircraft problems (better to experience aircraft problems on the ground rather than half way there). This time the flying weather was perfect and the flight time was mercifully short at just over an hour in duration.

In many ways Alberta is the Canadian version of Texas with lots of income from the oil & gas sector, lots of cowboy hats and boots, big pick up trucks; no provincial sales tax (except for the federal tax, the GST) and basically a free liquor market not burdened by a government monopoly as in other Canadian provinces. The net result is a very vibrant whisky community with very decent prices and loads of selection.

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The Festival is organized by Andrew Ferguson (who was recently inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich) and he’s the resident ‘scotch guy’ at Kensington. Customers are kept in the loop by his emailed Malt Messengers newsletter which affords them the inside track on new products, tasting notes, sales, monthly dinners & tastings featuring various single malts and details of distillery trips to Scotland, also led by Andrew.

For such a physically small location crammed with 100 people the line up of whiskies was impressive indeed; Authentic Wine & Spirits with three BenRiach, two Isle of Jura, four GlenDronach (including the Glendronach 1995 KWM PX, a KWM exclusive) and a Dalmore, Purple Valley Imports with Stronachie 18, two Amrut, four different Roughstock, the English Whisky Company, Sullivan’s Cove and a very nice 26yo Glenglassaugh. Diageo Canada had Port Ellen 8th Release, Lagavulin DE, Oban, Talisker, Caol Ila, the Singleton and Bulleit Bourbon. Charton-Hobbs had EIGHT different Glenmorangie, several Ardbeg and a few Glenrothes. Not to be out done the table featuring Edradour and Signatory featured eight bottlings ranging from Edradour Caledonia to Glen Mhor 1982.

United Distributors offered seven bottlings from Bunnahabhain, Tobermory, Ledaig and Deanston while Harvest Vintage Imports offered six Isle of Arran (including two Kensington exclusive casks, one sherry and one bourbon) as well as two Finlaggan. Saverio Schiralli poured a couple of Auchentoshan, four Bowmore and two Glen Garioch.

PMA Canada was pouring three Glenfiddich and five Balvenie. Beam Global had a great selection of three Macallan and four Highland Park (including the recently arrived St. Magnus) as well as the brand new to the market Alberta Premium 30 year old. Gold Medal Marketing featured and impressive line of thirteen Duthies, three G&M Connoisseurs’ Choice, a couple of both Mackmyra and Kilchoman.

The Kensington Wine Mart Table (actually an up ended barrel) featured Tullibardine 1987,   G&M Connoisseurs’ Choice Glen Keith 1968, Kilchoman KWM Fresh Bourbon, G&M KWM Glen Grant 1966, Mackinlay’s Shackleton, Compass Box Hedonism Maxximus and a Signatory Bowmore 1970 40 Year Old. Stellar use of an up ended barrel!

The Curiosities Table was happily controlled by Dr. Jane Cameron who poured Lagavulin Feis Ile 2010, Yamazaki Sherry Cask, Yamazaki Puncheon, Port Charlotte An Tura Mor, Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey and Nikka From the Barrel. Later in the evening Whisky Intelligence earned a wry glance from Andrew Ferguson for blending the Yamazaki Puncheon and the Port Charlotte An Tura Mor together but his look changed to one of pleasant surprise at the result!

Despite the size of the location and the number of people there is no trouble in navgating between tables and everybody is very friendly. Alas, is short order the Festival was over at 9PM sharp however there’s no room for complaint since the selection of whiskies on offer is simply more than you can appreciate in a single evening. Since the selection is so extensive there is something for everybody. Most, if not all of the whiskies were on sale at between 5% and 20% off during the evening and Whisky Intelligence took the opportunity to buy a G&M single cask 1995 Old Pulteney 60.5% from a First Fill Sherry Butt Cask #1505 and a Bruichladdich Classic Sherry 46%, neither of which had been sampled by WI prior to the Festival.

Post Festival WI had the distinct pleasure to have a dram or two with Glenn Todd & Stan Willow, members of the Companions of the Quaich and directors of the Victoria Whisky Festival who were also in Calgary for the Kensington Spring Single Malt Whisky Festival.

Indian Hunter, c. 1855 Collection of Glenbow Museum

Indian Hunter, c. 1855 Collection of Glenbow Museum

As with past festivals (as WI readers well know) the opportunity was taken to visit a local museum and in Calgary the one to visit is the Glenbow Museum which was just a two minute walk from the Fairmont Palliser in the down town area. The selection of historical oil paintings really was first rate and depicted the West extremely well. A nice way to finish the trip and they even have a few paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff, remember him from the Spirit of Toronto trip?

Cornelius Krieghoff

Cornelius Krieghoff

William Bradford The English Arctic Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin

William Bradford The English Arctic Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin

From www.glenbow.org

Glenbow Museum’s holding of nineteenth century art is strong in works on paper featuring topographical and illustrative images, which were created by itinerant artists. They were not professional artists but explorers, engineers, surveyors, and military officers documenting the opening up of the West. Another significant part of the art collection relates to the exploration of the Arctic.

Glenbow also has a large body of works by artists, most members of the newly created Royal Canadian Academy, whose trips to the West were promoted and sponsored by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Large oil paintings by these artists were typically done in Ontario, based directly on sketches, photographs, and watercolours executed on western trips. Over the years, through purchase and donation, Glenbow has acquired many important works of art by artists from eastern Canada and the United States.

Frances Anne Hopkins Canoes in a fog Lake Superior 1869

Frances Anne Hopkins Canoes in a fog Lake Superior 1869

The Glenbow Museum even had an exhibition of Karsh photographs which was very interesting (but of a lot of deceased people).

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Sir Winston Churchill by Karsh

Traditions must be maintained so later in the day at the airport on the home ward leg of the trip in the comfort of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge a pre flight ‘blend’ of one ounce of Glenlivet 12yo mixed with one ounce of Johnnie Walker Black was enjoyed, an opportunity was had to reflect on the Kensington Spring Single Malt Whisky Festival and what an enjoyable event it is. If you have the opportunity (or if you don’t have the opportunity make one) then you really must attend one of Kensington’s Festivals, they have a great selection of whiskeis and it’s a very good whisky shopping opportunity.

Whisky Intelligence would like to thank Andrew Ferguson and Kensington Wine Mart for the ticket to the Festival. Visit Kensington Wine Mart at www.kensingtonwinemarket.com 

The Spirit of Toronto Saturday May 14th, 2011 – Scotch Whisky News

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The Travels of Whisky Intelligence

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The 7th Annual Spirit of Toronto

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The flight left the gate a mere 10 minutes late due to a reset of the on board computers but arrived over an hour late in Toronto. Now how does that happen? Did they take the scenic route? An unstable worm hole was to blame? We don’t know since they never made an announcement. Very irritating none the less and now an hour behind schedule and lunch with Davin de Kergommeaux of www.canadianwhisky.org fame was off the table, so to speak.

After meeting Davin at the Fairmont Royal York we headed over to the Spirit of Toronto venue Roy Thompson Hall to drop off a box of samples for Davin’s masterclass. At the door we were met by a very nice man in a black suit and a radio who immediately zeroed in on the box. “Is there alcohol in the box?” Yes we affirmed. “You cannot bring alcohol into the building; there are children in the building”. Excuse me? What the hell is he talking about? We didn’t want to serve it to them we just wanted to store it and prepare for the masterclass. “No. You cannot bring it into the building while children are present.” Oh for pities sake. Welcome to the cloud cuckoo land that is Ontario. One wonders how the little dears manage to walk past a bar in a hotel lobby without being scared for life.

So box in hand we made out way across the street to the Elephant & Castle to wait out our time in the penalty box until the building was clear. Some other law was most likely broken by bringing the box into the Elephant & Castle but they never said anything. The sliver lining is we did have an opportunity to have a late lunch and to line our stomachs prior to the commencement of hostiles. Joining us was fellow Malt Maniac Nabil Mailloux who was also in town for the Spirit of Toronto.

Eventually Roy Thompson Hall was swept clear of all children and we could return, fortuitously it was already time for a pre show masterclass, Gordon & MacPhail led by Michael Urquhart. After a very informative talk on the history of Gordon & MacPhail Michael led the room through samples of Mortlach 15yo, Glen Grant 21yo and Strathisla 25yo which were all very good. Also on the tasting mat were two other unidentified samples which were revealed in sequence, a rather lovely Benromach 30yo followed by the highlight of the class which was the G&M Glenlivet 70yo. There were gasps from all over the room as this was completely unexpected by the attendees. One poor fellow actually knocked over his glass of the 70yo earlier in the class; Michael Urquhart didn’t even blink.

After the Gordon & MacPhail masterclass it was time to examine the venue, new additions were Classic Cocktails by Yuki Yamazaki and Kentaro Wada, the Blind Whisky Challenge with Regis Lemaitre (participants had 15 minutes to identify 3 blind samples; single malt, grain or blend?) the Whisky Pod video stand where attendees reviewed their favourite whiskies and the Canadian Whisky “All Stars” in the American Express Lounge featuring Crown Royal XR, Canadian Club 30 Year Old, Wiser’s Red Letter and Gibson’s’ 18 Year Old.

As for the stands there was a good showing from Glenlivet and Aberlour, Glenfiddich and Balvenie, Highland Park,  Macallan and the Famous Grouse, Compass Box with John Glaser, Isle of Jura with Willie Tait in the Whyte & Mackay corner, Nikka with a real show stopper of a Nikka Taketsuru 12yo, Glenrothes, Lark DistilleryGordon & MacPhail and Glenmorangie.

At 8:30PM Ross Hendry started his Glenrothes masterclass and took us through their line of single malts explaining their careful wood policy, their attention to detail and that they only bottle vintages when they feel the whisky is at the peak of its maturity. Ross presented the Select Reserve,  1994, 1995, 1985  and the 1978 to the class.

The lady at the Glenlivet table took one look at the well travelled Guardians of the Glenlivet member card and promptly apologized for not having any Glenlivet 21yo for the Guardians. Whisky Intelligence accepted a fine dram of Glenlivet 15yo French Oak in its place.

As per tradition there was a gathering at the Elephant & Castle post event for a few drinks (because one must always have more drinks after a whisky festival) and there was one more bit of cloud cuckoo land fun. Since the group was so large it was proposed that two tables be turned end to end and joined together but this was quickly rejected by the locals. “Don’t do it” they warned, “this is Toronto, they’ll ask you to leave!” Odd, odd, odd.

Sunday morning after an amusing breakfast with Davin we grabbed a taxi and headed to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) www.ago.net  via a circuitous route due to the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon which neatly screwed up the traffic. The marathon caused the taxi driver to complain some what bitterly about the lost revenue. Perhaps if they put all the runners in taxis and had the taxis race through the downtown core on the prescribed route if would offer more revenue for the taxi drivers and a really cool spectacle for those viewing from the side lines. 2,000 taxis crammed full of runners racing through downtown, now that would be something to see.

Cornelius Krieghoff

Cornelius Krieghoff

Once in the AGO we made a bee line to the excellent paintings of Cornelius Krieghoff  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Krieghoff ) in the Kenneth Thomson Collection featuring may scenes of early Canadian life.

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The Toll Gate

The Krieghoff’s were followed by the Canadian Group of Seven, the Thomson Collection of Ship Models and then some impressionist paintings including the excellent Alfred Sisley ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Sisley ). Alas our time was soon up and we returned to the hotel (with more marathon complaints from another taxi driver) and then our separate ways.

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West <—-

Hours later while enjoying the comfort of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and enjoying a pre flight ‘blend’ of one ounce of Glenlivet 12yo mixed with one ounce of Johnnie Walker Black, an opportunity was had to reflect on the Spirit of Toronto. It really is a very good festival and the extra hour added just enough time to visit the stands and meet old friends and make new acquaintances.

Whisky Intelligence would like to thank Johanna Ngo and Charles Anderson, the producers of the Spirit of Toronto, for the tickets to their excellent show. Please visit the Spirit of Toronto at www.spiritoftoronto.ca and plan to attend in 2012, it’s scheduled for Saturday, 12th of May 2012.

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The ‘Nth Show’ Universal Whisky Experience Las Vegas March 18th & 19th 2011 REVIEW – Scotch Whisky News

 

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The Travels of Whisky Intelligence.

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The Nth Show Las Vegas March 18th & 19th, 2011

The first we heard about the Nth Show Las Vegas was while standing in line for the Ardbeg tasting the night before Whisky Fest San Francisco where we had the good fortune to meet Nina and Mahesh Patel who were at that time planning the Las Vegas based show. http://www.whiskyintelligence.com/2010/10/whisky-fest-san-francisco-october-8th-2010-scotch-whisky-news/  There was some speculation, mutterings, musings and promises on our part about attending the Nth the following March on the night of the Ardbeg tasting at the Barber Lounge but frankly, it was a done deal. There was no way that Whisky Intelligence was going to miss the Nth. 

In due course tickets were available to book on-line and this was done with ease followed by simply printing them off the office computer, this is really a trouble free method of securing tickets. The Wynn Encore had a special festival room rate and even the air line had a sale; all was looking good for the Nth. Once again it was time to wait, damn it.

——- > South…

Due to the timings of flights etcetera we arrived in Las Vegas the early evening prior to the Nth show so we took the opportunity to dine at Switch, the steak house in the Encore (it’s named ‘Switch’ due to the walls and ceiling moving position to change the appearance of the room about every 15 minutes; very Vegas.).  A glass of red with dinner and a dram or two of Chivas 18 along the way rounded out the meal nicely. Both the steaks and the rest of the meal were very good and the service was excellent.

After dinner if was a quick commute across the casino floor to meet up with some friends in the hotel lobby bar and much to our delight the bar stocked Laphroaig 15 for a reasonable price. Travel is always tiring so it was with some relief when we made our way to our very large room, all the rooms in the Wynn Encore are quite sumptuous, about 750 square feet and very well appointed so they were an extra value considering the very reasonable Festival room rate.

Friday was a quiet day and we had the good fortune to meet up for lunch with whisky enthusiast Noel Buckley from Vancouver who was also in Vegas for the Nth show. Finally, after what seemed the longest day ever it was time to register for the show where we received our wrist bands and goodies bags which included our crystal Glencairn glasses engraved with the Nth logo. A nice & classy touch. While registration was quick and efficient the short time spent in the line was an opportunity to re-connect with old friends like Ed Patrick, president of the Companions of the Quaich and to meet some new ones including William C Myers who is one of the authors that updated Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion (6th Edition). Everybody was naturally quite excited about the show….

After registration a group of us made a bee line to the special event room (one of six special events held on Friday evening) that would soon be hosting the Gordon & MacPhail Glenlivet 70yo ‘Generations’ tasting led by Michael Urquhart. By rearranging the furniture in the hall way we managed to barricade & separate ourselves from any late comers thus protecting our spots in line. (Just kidding…. mostly). But wait in line we did and in due course Michael let us in a little early to wait until the 6:15 start. In front of each seat was one glass and after a short talk on Gordon & MacPhail and the history of the Glenlivet 70yo Michael asked if we thought it was time for a dram; 25 heads nodded in unison. He asked Andrew Ferguson of Kensington Wine Mart in Calgary to pour everybody a sample and the appreciative nosing started.  Tasting this aged dram was only improved the experience by the whisky being so good. (As of tomorrow, April 11th,  2011, Andrew has been inducted into the illustrious Keepers of the Quaich)

After the Gordon & MacPhail Glenlivet tasting we, the lucky few,  happily trooped upstairs to the ballroom for the main show and the continuation of the evening. The main ballroom was not cavernous but it was roomy enough to accomodate the estimated 250 people in attendance and the 35 stands representing a myriad of brands and at least 230 whiskies. (Duncan Taylor, GlenDronach & BenRiach, Springbank, Hirsch Anchor Distilling,  Dewar’s & Aberfeldy, Laphroaig, Inver House, The Glenlivet & Royal Salute, Four Roses, Amrut & Glenglassaugh, Highland Park, Macallan, Glenfarclas, Burn Stewart, Sirius (a new independent bottling brand launched at the Nth), Gordon & MacPhail, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, High West, Dalmore, Jura, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Morrison Bowmore, Glenrothes, Suntory, Glencairn, Casa Fuente, wine and champagne tables for the non whisky drinking guests. Yes! They thought of that too!

If you couldn’t have had fun in that room, you’re doomed. Doomed. Additionally there was a superb buffet meal in the downstairs ballroom featuring meat pasta, salads, roast turkey, roast beef and vegetables. Which we took advantage of at some point in the evening, it was nice to have a break and the food was thoughtfully prepared so as not to interfere with your palate; yet another small touch that added to the whole show.

To add to the experience were “super pours” every attendee received a token good for one super pour along with a second token for a Glenfarclas 1966 dispensed by Brett Pontini of Binny’s. The extensive list of super pour drams featured were Dalmore Astrum, Highland Park 40yo*, Glenglassaugh 40yo*, Glenrothes John Ramsay*, Dalmore Aurora, Laphroaig 21yo*, Ardbeg 1974, Glenfarclas 50yo*, Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask #1.124 39yo*, Speyside (very rare bottling, BenRiach 40yo*, Glenfiddich 40yo, Yamazaki 1984*, Gold Bowmore, Balvenie 40yo, The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964*, Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 1963*, Macallan 1950, Duncan Taylor Kinclaith 1941 41yo* and Glenmorangie Quarter Century 25yo*. However many stands didn’t feel the need to collect a super pour token, especially as the evening progressed. (Hence * = tried it). Of course this was only the super pour list; every stand had a complete selection of their brands ranging from standard bottlings to premium bottlings such as Dewar’s Signature which quite frankly should have been on the ‘super pour’ list, it’s that good.

Also in attendance was Tim Puett of the Ardbeg Project who seemed to loiter around the Ardbeg table for most of the evening!

Due to the schedule of the Nth, the masterclasses followed the Friday show so it’s was best to keep your wits about you since the masterclasses started at a seemingly unreasonable early 11:30 Saturday morning. However a large number of attendees couldn’t resist the pull of the Las Vegas strip and the walking wounded poured into the hotel pretty much until Saturday morning.  A few were never seen again.

There were a grand selection of 19 masterclasses featuring The Glenlivet, Macallan, Glenglassaugh, Four Roses, Glenfiddich, Morrison Bowmore, Glenmorangie, Amrut, Dalmore, Glendronach BenRiach, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Suntory, Glenfarclas, Balvenie, Glenrothes, Benromach, Highland Park, Ardbeg and High West.

We attended The Glenlivet with Ricky Crawford and the list of whiskies included a French Oak finish, two expressions of Nadurra and two aged Cellar Collection (a 37yo and a 40yo if memory serves). Ricky also explained at how he became an ambassador, the personal recollection added to the experience, it was a very good masterclass. It was made even better by the fact that the attendee to the left was hung over something fierce and passed along both Cellar Collections samples. Thanks! That’s the way to start your masterclass experience!

The Morrison Bowmore class was different altogether with a selection of whiskies from Bowmore, Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan with ambassador Jamie Mackenzie and Morrison Bowmore Senior Blender Iain McCallum. Iain’s presentation style is much like a broad side from a warship of old; however  it was both informative and enjoyable.

The BenRiach and GlenDronach masterclass with Alistair Walker was also a first rate affair and featured a generous selection; GlenDronach 1995 cask # 2045 (Preiss exclusive single cask), 31yr (Grandeur), 1972 Single Cask Bottling and BenRiach 25yr plus 21yr (Authenticus – peated).

The Glenfarclas masterclass with George Grant featured four 40yo; Millennium 40yr, Family cask 40yr, 105 40yr, and the New 40 yr. George was fresh as a daisy so he must have gone straight to bed after the show the previous night. Ahem.

And finally we were invited to sample two whiskies from the newly launched Sirius label (by Nth Show CEO Mahesh Patel); a 1965 Carsebridge 45yo and a 1967 Dalmore which may or not be a 43yo, by this point in the day the palate and memory were begging for a break. The Carsebridge was sublime and the Dalmore an aged gentleman.

And thus the Nth 2011 came to a close. A new standard has been set for whisky events in the United States, well done Mahesh, Nina and Mit Patel. Whisky Intelligence heartily recommends the convivial Nth Show in Las Vegas and plans on returning in 2012.

< ——— North…

Sunday early, Las Vegas McCarran airport in the departure lounge staring across the tarmac at the “Janet” airlines white with red cheat lines 737-600’s that transport people daily to and from the Nevada Test Site (area 51) and northern California on secret defense related work. Ah, it’s Richard Paterson; he’s on the same flight and a chance for a chat…

The 2012 Nth Show is scheduled for March 2nd and 3rd at the Wynn Encore and details will appear in due course at http://universalwhiskyexperience.com/

Whisky Intelligence To Publish A Review Of ‘The Nth’ Whisky Show (Las Vegas) TOMORROW – Scotch Whisky News

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Whisky Intelligence will publish a review tomorrow of the Nth Universal Whisky Experience that was held March 18th & 19th, 2011 at the Wynn Encore Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. Please take a moment to visit Whisky Intelligence tomorrow to read the review of this excellent event.


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