To say I did not want to be here would be an understatement. A dream-dram-only Whisky Show? In Glasgow? It is one thing to try the best dream drams at an all-in festival, when it is within walking distance; paying for travel and accommodation for the privilege of, then, paying to get into what is essentially a large pub is another.
In other words: I did not like the concept. Irrespective of the lobbying by the Swissky Mafia, JS, BA, EG, MR, I would not go. There. That is how childish I can be.
That said, it turned out I had to be in G-town around the date. It probably would not hurt for it to be that weekend. I could then catch-up with friends outside of the show. Not inside -- no way!
And then, they announced the exhibitors. And then, what each of them would bring. It was not until the very last few weeks, though, that they started putting price tags on those drams that would be available. It started making some kind of sense.
I still felt annoyed at the arrogance of organising up north, far from London, where so many enthusiasts seem to reside. I would only consider going one day -- the quieter Sunday. Tickets were not selling fast anyway.
And then, BA told us a few weeks ago that there were few tickets left for the Saturday. Scarcity creates desirability, for tOMoH.
Tickets were bought. I would go on the Saturday and, if it turned out to be good (I knew it would not), Sunday would still be an option.
And then pat gva announced he was going. At last, a chance to meet him.
And here I am. JS and I took the 6:05 train into Glasgow, which we reached at 10:59. We barely had time to drop our baggage at the hotel, then straight into the queue.
|Meet thy neghbours|
Here I am indeed, against my will, with an empty stomach, and giddy with anticipation and lack of sleep. The Swissky Mafia boys are right in front of us in the queue. The parade starts: MR, BA, EG, ST, PT and others pass us by and say hello. The atmosphere is relaxed. So relaxed it takes me another thirty minutes to realise that I left my camera in my suitcase. Good start.
Once in, I observe how small the venue is. Away with Old Billingsgate's corporate-fair feel. This is a cosy Victorian reception hall in a once-grand hotel. The attendance is also probably ten-to-twenty percent of London's. And the geekiness reaches levels I have never seen outside of the Bowmore masterclass, last year.
|The Skinner stand|
But we have work to do. This is a festival. Notes will be short. MR brings this.
Laphroaig 15yo d.1968 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice): I take no clever notes other than it is very good, delicate and refined, obviously a 1960s distillation.
We spend time with EG and try this.
Highland Park 22yo 1957/1979 (45.7%, Samaroli, 360b): nose: caramelised marzipan. Mouth: velvety, with caramel sweetness. Finish: wet, burnt wood emerges. The finish kills this otherwise good dram. 7/10
While sniffing the HP, I notice a group of two or three on my right. One is a proud Scot (kilt, yellow-arctic-fox-skin sporran and all), but I recognise the other. As I prepare my opening line, he pulls a bottle from his bag. I almost faint.
'We have not even met yet and you are already showing off!' I tell pat gva. We shake hands and he promptly offers me a pour.
Jura 20yo 1966/1996 (86 U.S. Proof, R.W. Duthies selected for Corti Brothers imported by Pellegrini Imports): this is only the most desirable Jura ever bottled. I never thought my flasks* would rival whatever pat gva would bring, but this is humbling. :-D Nose: holy cow! Fruit, chocolate, marzipan, then light tobacco. Mouth: drying and fruity at the same time. Mango. Finish: leather, mud, and lots of fruit. 10/10 (Thanks pat gva)
* I pour the following from my flasks all weekend:
G4.1 29yo 1979/2008 (53%, SMWS Society Cask, 236b)
Scapa 14yo 2000/2014 (53.9%, OB Cask Strength Edition, B#SC 14 008)
Longmorn 19yo 1992/2012 (46%, Acorn Friends of Oak, 120b)
That was a decent start!
Lochside 20yo d.1965 (40%, GMP connoisseurs Choice): nose: rubber and lots of fruit. Mouth: drying rubber, more fruit. Finish: fruit, fruit, fruit. There is still a small hint of rubber that does not detract from the fruity goodness. 9/10
Meet Thomas Krüger of whiskyauction.com. I advise him to try the Bowmore SLTN -- remember we tried that in December. He says it is going to be a fruity Bowmore from the 1960s, full of papaya and mango and that he does not need that. If he wants fruit, he will drink fruit juice, thank you very much. We need more people like him in the world!
Meet Menno, whiskybase.com owner and Littlemill collector, who just got a glass he does not care for. He lets me try it.
Dunglass 1967/1988 (46%, Brae Dean Int. imported by Moon Import The Animals, C#3447-050, 600b, b#10): I find lots of dusty fruits in this. The soapiness everyone complains about is there, yet it certainly does not bother me, nor does the distant smoke. In fact, I like this a lot.
St Magdalene 20yo 1963/1984 (92° U.S. PROOF, Cadenhead): nose: it has the flintiness of a traditional St Magdalene, combined with lots and lots of fruits... and plasticine. Mouth: pencil shavings, then plasticine again, hot wax, varnish, plums. Finish: long and passionate like a young-lovers kiss, it has more wax and plasticine. 10/10
Dallas Dhu 1962/1979 (92° U.S. PROOF, Cadenhead): nose:an explosion of fruit -- ripe apricot, apple compote, gooseberry. Mouth: milky and fruity again. Finish: long, fruity, with greengages and apricots. Crikey! those dumpies. 10/10
Bowmore 35yo 1966/2001 (43.7%, Hart Brothers Finest Collection): the notes are not on this blog, but it was another HB that opened my eyes to the wonders of 1960s Bowmore -- a 34yo from 1966. Trying this is almost akin to confronting memories of early emotions. Will it live up to the expectation? Nose: fucking hell! Of course, it does. Pink grapefruit and mango bring tears of bliss. Mouth: pink grapefruit juice and a subtle hint of rubber. Finish: pure pink grapefruit juice. This is humbling. Probably the dram of the show, for me. Meow. 10/10
Rare Ayrshire 40yo 1975/2015 (47.1%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection Rare Reserve, Bourbon Barrel, C#3421, 166b, b#6): Signatory Vintage, in pure Signatory-Vintage fashion, brought out the goods. A Glenisla, a Craigduff, a Glenlochy, a Ladyburn (this one), a Glen Mhor, an old Caol Ila... Having tried most of them previously, I go with this Ayrshire. Nose: buttery and flowery, it opens up to reveal peach flesh. Mouth: hotter than expected, with a burning stew of yellow flowers. Finish: ink, pencils, and lots of buttery fruits. 9/10
Aberlour 25yo 1964/1989 (43%, OB, 10000b): I have been curious about this one for a while. Nose: dark chocolate, cocoa, gentle coffee, Jaffa Cakes -- no! PiMM's. Mouth: unctuous, with chocolate and orange -- PiMM's again, then. Finish: chocolate cake, easy and simple. Beautifully made. 9/10
pat gva, on a mission, introduces me to everyone I do not already know. Right now, it is Italy's turn. Most notably, I meet Nadi Fiori, of Meregalli, Intertrade and High Spirits fame. In a way, the man who invented single cask, cask strength whisky -- though it is unclear whether he or Silvano Samaroli was the first.
Ardbeg d.1974 (46%, La Réserve, C#3345, b#0037): nose: ink, old grease, metallic tools and a farmyard. Mouth: inky as fook. Finish: this is an ink explosion, old ink from a fountain pen, or even nibs dunked in an inkwell. Most interesting. 8/10
As a side note, pat gva is excited about another Ardbeg. Imagine! He has tried it before, but this is... the American bottling! :-)
Convalmore-Glenlivet 30yo 1962/1993 (46.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection): nose: hazelnut, balanced wood, old oil, old vinegar. Mouth: velvety and nutty -- chestnut purée? Finish: nutty and fruity, with wonderful notes of vinaigrette. 9/10
|JS tries this. I only nose it.|
Time for food. I have not eaten for over ten hours and we all reckon it would be foolish to carry on without fuel.
Continue reading here.
|This picture is not staged.|