National Whisky Festival Paisley 2018

I like the idea of a roving whisky festival. Back in February the National Whisky Festival was in Glasgow at the SWG3 venue and now here I am in Paisley a small town just outside Glasgow, where next? Coatbridge or Airdrie as they are just up the road from me would be nice.

I’m not joking here either, I think it would be a great idea for this company to move around Scotland and have festivals in smaller towns, Edinburgh and Glasgow already has large whisky festivals, far too large for me frankly but more of that later, and the idea of festivals all over the country but it smaller venues in smaller towns appeals to me greatly, taking whisky all over the country rather than making people travel into Glasgow or Edinburgh.

For me personally the smaller venue suits me fine. I don’t like large venues for anything, I get rather overwhelmed and I can’t be the only one, plus these smaller venues often offer the opportunity for smaller firms to elbow their way in, the big boys have big budgets and large stalls at events forcing the smaller companies to the back of the room.

For your ticket price you got access to the hall, a branded Glencairn glass, a fiver off a bottle voucher from Good Spirits as well as access to the Masterclasses on offer. The Festival was split into two three hour sessions. There was also some live music which worked well in the background and wasn’t too loud, the one fault the Fife Festival had was the music from the live act was blaring, this was better, you could stand and watch and listen or not.

The venue itself was Paisley Town Hall, five minutes walk from the train station so easy to access for anyone coming in, as I did, but I’m guessing it’s a doddle to get too from anywhere in Paisley which is the point.

A main foyer with a few seats and a reception greets us, I’m with M today, a founding member of the Whisky Apocalypse drinking and gaming society, and after getting out hand stamped and handed our guide and branded Glencairn we step into the main hall.

The event is split into two rooms, a main hall and side room, the side room had some space to relax, although I’d have liked to have seen some chairs and tables here, the Good Spirits pop up shop was here too as well as three more stalls. The stalls were a mix of whisky, coffee, art, arts and crafts and a food stall selling something mushroom based which didn’t appeal to me.

Whisky Festivals aren’t really places to review whiskies, so I’m not going to start here but I will give you my highlights of the show.

Highlights for me? Well I tried the Vinterglod from Mackmyra a Swedish Single Malt which has been finished in Mulled wine casks, it was interesting, it was expensive and the one question it left me with was “when would you sit down with this?” Apart from the odd dram at Christmas, and it was a question left unanswered.

Surprise highlight of the show was the Glenturret Triple wood, I thought it was better than the 10 Year Old, it had a lovely depth, worked excellent with water and is now absolutely on my shopping list, the ambassador chap was also genuinely enthusiastic about his product and I think that helps too, but yeah, Glenturret triple wood.

Over at the Clydeside Distillery another highlight was the 25 Year Old North British Single Grain from A.D. Rattray, it was a joy and at under £100 a bottle it shows age doesn’t always need to cost a fortune. If I can I’ll attempt to get a bottle of this and review but that might be a bit of a stretch.

And now my dram of the show, it just had to be this, from the second it passed my lips I knew it was special, and it was American, sigh.

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium aged whiskey was an absolute delight, a warm and rich spirit I really enjoyed and will really enjoy getting to know properly and review now I’ve bagged a bottle, I’ll review asap, maybe over the weekend and get some notes up.

So that was that, M and myself spent around an hour here before getting a sit down and some fresh air, despite the driving rain, and then heading back in for another hour, that was enough for us although the two sessions were three hours each.

I enjoyed myself here, yes I did get a free ticket but then I did buy some stuff to even things out, I do think we could have had more seating and food too, yes there was one stall doing food but I’d like to see more, a stall selling pies and sausage rolls would have been an excellent addition to the festival, maybe the organisers need a tie in with Greggs?

I look forward to their next event which I hope they keep as intimate as this was.

The Captain.

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