Jeezo, popular festival this, cracking line up, cracking venue, what’s not to like here?
Anyway, big thanks to the good folk at the National Whisky Festival for putting on such a good show and giving me a ticket.
These things can be rather overwhelming, especially if you’re new to such things and with over seven hundred people at session one you have to figure there are a good few newbies, so as well as my thoughts on what I was drinking I’m going to do a few do’s and don’ts when you get to your first festival.
First off, don’t dive in, have a wander around, you’ve got hours to spend if you want too, take your programme and have a stroll around the room or rooms and pin point where you fancy starting. As always I started over at Glenfiddich because it’s a dram I know so well, pick something light and straightforward first, why batter yourself early doors? So, Glenfiddich 12 for me and off I went for a wander around the two rooms looking for what to try next.
As I let my palate open with the Glenfiddich 12 I find an Irish Whiskey stand, now, as anyone who reads this will know my relationship with Irish whiskey is somewhat fractured however I’m all about trying new things so I delved in to a dram of the 10 Year Old Sherry Cask finish and it was lovely, yes I still think it’s expensive but at least this new distillery is open about where its stock comes from and this 10 Year Old really hit the spot.
I think it’s important to note here that there is no point in trying to review a whisky whilst at a festival, far too many people, tastes and smells.
Another amble sees me chatting with Mark Thomson,Jen Joyes and Hazel Lynch (who is kindly modelling the bottle of Grand Cru for me) of Glenfiddich and the 21 Year Old rum cask is poured, cracking dram but there is something I’ve been wanting to try for some time and that’s the glorious Grand Cru, the 23 Year Old new core expression. Yeah it’s 40% which a lot of people will moan at and it’s certainly not cheap, but it was wonderful, I mean it was an absolute star of a whisky, so much so that I’m now trying to track a bottle down to sit alongside my half dozen other Glenfiddich bottles.
It’s times like this, when I’m sitting here reflecting on my time at the festival and going over my pictures and notes that we all need to remember that sometimes the big boys still produce some outstanding whisky, that Grand Cru Glenfiddich really was a show stopper. When I get a bottle it will go away for when I retire and I can open up a handful of whiskies to savour over the years, I had two drams of this and even with all the hussle and bustle of a festival it just gleamed.
So I’m few drams in now and I’m wandering about and decide to head over to Paul John, nice chaps and nice whisky, I tried their 40% Nirvana which was okay if a little bit underwhelming and then their magical 48% PX Finish which I believe is out next week, another gem of a whisky.
Time for a seat and something to eat.
I was alone on this adventure so sat in the corner minding my own business having something from Babu Bombay Street Kitchen and drinking some water to clean my palate, see, seats and food, all whisky festivals need seats and food.
Moving on I was back for more a 24 Year Old Glenburgie? Don’t mind if I do. Then a McPink and McPeat from House of McCallum, fair enough drams if nothing exciting but that’s me moving on to the peat.
See, there’s also very little point in starting with cask strength or peated whiskies either, it’s very difficult to get that peaty goodness out of your mouth and I found something I will remember for a long time.
The Murray McDavid Caol Ila was okay but the Hinch Peated whisky with it’s light sticky candyfloss and charcoal notes was a dream, I imagine you could very much drink this until someone took the bottle off you, just a perfect glass of whisky.
So that was me, I don’t over do it, I was on my own so didn’t really fancy the lovely looking cocktails because they would have driven me into being actually drunk rather than just nicely toasted and I said my thanks and made my home to eat veggie haggis.
And that my friends is how I like to do a whisky festival.
Dram of the day has to be the Grand Cru from Glenfiddich.
Find of the day needs to go Hinch and their Peated expression, absolutely well done.
And finally a special nod to the Paul John PX because that’s going to turn a lot of heads over the next twelve months.
Thanks so much again to the National Whisky Festival for having me, see you all soon.