The National Whisky Festival – Scotland’s best celebration of all things uisge-beatha (I was told) – Paisley town hall October 2018, aye I was there! – Scotch Whisky News

paisley whisky fest

The National Whisky Festival – Scotland’s best celebration of all things uisge-beatha (I was told) – Paisley town hall October 2018, aye I was there!

by Paul Mclean!

Accompanying us were the drams, whisky related arts, books, crafts, live music (no the best to be honest), food from local restaurants (eh? Didnee see much grub), craft beer bar (didnee see this), myself and a few pals. So, was this any different than other festivals in a day?  For the ticket price of £25 we each inherited entrance to the afternoon sesh, over 50 whiskies (thought there may have been more), two £5 discount vouchers against purchases at the bottle shop, no cheap to begin with by the way, a branded Glencairn nosing glass (will add this to the other hundred or so at home), masterclasses and an official festival programme. Would I attend next year? Nope.

For me, Paisley is a long way away, did I need a passport from Perth? After a few drams I couldnee get home easy so planned to rough it with the “Weegies” for the night. Mr Hilton was very helpful in this aspect, a nice bed and room, he kept away the beggars and drunks who have hindered me before in our largest city. I must point out though, Mr George was no helping being totally tied up, so Mr Hilton, where are the free drinks in the free bar Mr George gives me? Aye well. I did happen to take a few wee empty bottles along just in case, at every whisky fest I have attended, and the list is long, educational research you understand, there are always people I know on the other side of the table (said with  a grin). However this time I knew no one!

Masterclasses in our sesh were: Uncle Nearest who were there fae Shelbyville, Tennessee. Their statement – Honoring (why cannee the Americans spell correctly?) the best whiskey maker the world never knew, Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green. The first African American master distiller on record in the US. To be honest, never heard of him, pass this over to Charlie (needless to say we tried it, all 4 of us almost spat it oot, drams went into the bucket directly). At £55 for a bottle of grim corn whisky, och there are much better drams out there for less – Bunny for example. Loch Fyne Whiskies whom I know very well, unfortunately for my wallet, Paul John Whisky – pals of mine fae India, just had an evening masterclass with Shilton the other night, and a smattering of PJ drams on tour up in Elgin. Aye, know them very well. Glenturret with the new style bottles, interesting as I ran advertising agency before doing whisky tourism, always interested in packaging/marketing. All with brand ambassadors. It was first come, first served at the main hall entrance. We stumbled into the Loch Fynne class. They now have 2 shops, our class consisted of 5 drams, two were great, the last, a liqueur was bad, a nasty piece of work that found a spittoon right away.


Distell Group brought along a few pals too; Black Bottle , Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, Bunnahabhain Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky – we delved into many of their drams and, the fab Ledaig, so good that was I had seconds, thirds and a fourth, lovely lady here, Scotch Whisky from the Isle of Mull – Maclean land.  I had wondered if big Jimbo Bibleman would be there, guess what? We also hit the Mackmyra table hard, the Swedes had come a long way so it was nice of us to stay so long with them, prefer Scotch.  Wolfburn were all good. The sesh came to an end with us being asked to leave the building, I wondered if Elvis was still there? The West End had our names so we went along by taxi to the Islay bar, bad move, far too much excitement here, too many drams and music on offer, not good for auld guys (2 of us) girls didnee look like that when I was young. I found a table as they got in a round, a whisky and three Guinness. Our Mankie pal had trouble at the bar, accent or just daft as a brush, we couldnee be sure, he came back and said the bar staff had never heard of Glendronach (Man U supporter, what d’you expect). A wee bit later the Welshman and myself decided we had had enough, a taxi was stopped and hoose/hotels were found. We left the two ex Marines to cause mayhem and scarpered.

Back at the ranch with Mr Hilton, I hit the whisky mist bar (well named), confused and interested in a couple of cocktails, as you do. Trying to move the Portugese outa the way (they played Scotland next day, hotel was full of them, and the team) I politely dabbled inside a “deep in the vaults”, turning oot to be a 12 yo Bowmore Oloroso, surrounded by Benedictine liqueur and sea salt. No sure so moved on, was interested but didnee partake in the Auchentoshan & Ale; American Oak, lemon, bitters, fruit and a choice of beer – Guinness, Best, Schiehallion or Harvieston Amber, all in an enamel mug. Let this one get away, ended my night with “Penicillin”, a Naked Grouse, Laphroaig with lemon juice honey and ginger. Trying to reach my room, got in the lift with a nice wee lass who pressed floor 11. All was good except I was on 13. Oot she got and I stayed, pressed 13, nothing happened, pressed again, nothing happened. Oh no, not another night in a lift. It then hit me, I needed my room card to work the lift. Got to my bed, a bottle of Lucozade and Homes under the Hammer on tv – darkness came.

A different kind of weekend in Glasgow, I would go back and do it all again, perhaps without the whisky fest, no the best.   PAUL MCLEAN in his own view.


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