Sunday, 25 March 2012

Whisky Live London 2012

Yesterday I attended my first Whisky Show

Whisky Live London is one of the world’s premier whisky tasting shows and was held at the stunning Honourable Artillery Company. The historic 18th Century mansion is set in a six acre garden just a stone's throw from Moorgate in the heart of the City of London.

My Daughter Kat and I took the train into the city and made our way across to City Lane. We arrived a little early, so sat across the road sipping coffee while waiting for the show to begin. We had bought full day tickets which allowed us to access from midday so we were one of the first to enter the show.

Upon collecting our entrance badges, catalogue and glass we were immediately overwhelmed by the choice in front of us. Not knowing where to start we moved towards the Classic Malts stand and asked to try a Lagavulin Distillers Edition. Asked if we were Classic Malt members I replied that I was and that it was one of the first whisky clubs I joined when starting my journey.

We were then immediately whisked upstairs to the Classic Malts members lounge to meet Donald Colville, the Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador for Diageo and sampled an impressive array of specially selected single malts.

Donald Colville, Classic Malts Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador

Kat enjoying the Classic Malts Lounge
We sat in the imposing 'Drum Room' overlooking the beautiful manicured playing fields in front of the mansion while sipping some spectacular drams and discussing whisky with Donald and his team and other members of Classic Malts club. We were each presented with a Talisker hip flask and although we were only supposed to try three different whiskies, we managed to sample everything they had open.

The all inclusive entrance fee to Whisky Live meant that drams were 'bought' by vouchers as part of the catalogue. Within the whisky vouchers was a food voucher which entitled us to a two course lunch in the magnificent Long Room.

After lunch we descended back into the main exhibition and started to work our way around the stands, stopping first at the Whyte & Mackay stand and sampling a number of their drams from the Jura and Dalmore distilleries. It was here we met Master Blender Richard Paterson, also known as 'The Nose'. There are two things to remember when you meet Richard though: If you drink the whisky too quickly, he'll slap you. and if he sees you holding a whisky tasting glass the wrong way, he'll kill you! 

Richard was the perfect gentleman though, and gave my daughter a signed copy of his book 'Goodness Nose'. Perhaps if she wasn't there, he might have slapped me, but the glass was empty here!

Richard Paterson, aka' The Nose'

We ventured further around the exhibition trying whiskies from Japan's Nikka distilleries, Old Pulteney, Glenlivet and Four Roses Bourbon.

We also met an on-line friend from Israel who was on a brief visit to the UK, and had just returned from Islay and Jura. Gal Granov is the founder and editor of WhiskyIsrael ( It was great to be able to meet Gal and I hope that he has had a great trip.

John McCheyne at The SMWS stand

Another Twitter friend tweeted that I should visit him at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society stand, so we made our way over to find John McCheyne, a society ammbassador who poured us a lovely dram from the Ardbeg distillery.

With time now starting to run out we made quickly to the Penderyn stand to find out a little about Welsh Whisky. We met Siân who introduced the brand to us, and poured a number of drams for us to try.

Wales is a great rugby nation and had recently won the 6 Nations tournament with a Grand Slam victory. Siân not only knew about her whisky but was also a passionate Welsh rugby supporter. My family are all great rugby fans and we agreed Wales played some of the most exciting rugby during the recent World Cup in New Zealand and I would have liked to have seen them in the final, but they certainly deserved their Grand Slam victory this year.

'Last Pour' was called while we were finishing our drams and my first Whisky Live show was finished. The five hours that we were there had gone so very quickly. We met some wonderful people, tasted some superb whisky all in beautiful surroundings. To top it all we had the best weather of the year so far.

Will I be going back next year - you bet! I never managed to get around half of the stands and know I missed a lot of good whisky. However I did sample and note down 21 different drams during the day. I don't think I would have been able to stand too many more should the day had been longer, but next time I will go armed with a list of new drams to sample!

The Whisky Live London 2012 Dram List

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