Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Birmingham Whisky Club Whisky Show

Kat and I were delighted to be invited to The Birmingham Whisky Club's inaugural Whisky show, held in a cosy room within the Old Joint Stock, in the heart of Birmingham City and right in front of the Cathedral. So firstly we have to say thank you to Amy Seaton for inviting us to her first ever whisky festival. Well done and we had a brilliant time despite Kat having to drive home. 

We decided we've drive up this time as Kat had a function to go to in the evening and so would not be drinking, just nosing the whiskies, though did have very small sips of a few whiskies and mostly soaked up the atmosphere.

We were really surprised how easy it was to get right into the centre of the city on a late Saturday morning and parked up for the day, just ten minutes away from the venue.

The Old Joint Stock
The Old Joint Stock is a huge pub, that used to be a bank once a upon a time, and as we entered a few minutes after midday it was already very busy. The Whisky Show was being held in one of the back rooms and so made our way through to meet up with Amy Seaton, founder of the Birmingham Whisky Club and show organiser.

It was already getting busy when we arrived and by the end of the day was buzzing with people chatting about their favourite drams, and seeing what drams they should go back for seconds. With around fifty different whiskies on offer, there was plenty of new 'discoveries' for us to find.

After meeting Amy at the entrance we caught up with Mike and Jon from Living Room Whisky and started discussing what our plans were for the day. Jon was adamant that he was only going to be trying whiskies he had never tasted before, and Mike quickly chipped in "is there any". I told them that was my original plan, but after seeing Old Pulteney and Balblair would be there I was looking forward to revisiting to 'finish' my notes form a previous tasting.

The first dram of the day
We started our day by trying one of the newest Indian single malt whiskies on the market, Paul John Single Cask, No. 161. Kat had tried this before, at the end of a great day out at the Whisky Exchange Whisky Show. This is their debut whisky, from Indian malted barley and double distilled in traditional copper pot stills and aged in bourbon casks freshly emptied in Kentucky. Being distilled and matured in Goa, the 'Angels Share' is a whopping 10%, so we won't be finding aged whiskies from this distillery, within just seven years you've lost more than 50% of what you started with.

This non peated Whisky was given 94.5 points form Jim Murray in his latest bible, and we found it to have a very rich nose at first. a drop of water allowed out to open up and the vanilla and orange marmalade came through on the nose. It was big and malty on the palate with lots of peppery spice too it was interesting and wish I could have spent longer with this, perhaps sitting down in a comfy armchair to sit and saviour to fully appreciate it.

Kat did get to taste this again and wrote some notes down too: The nose was full of citrus, vanilla, a hint of buttery creaminess, and cinnamon. My initial thought was that it’s a sherry cask as all the aromas were so pungent but to my surprise it was a bourbon cask. It tasted full bodied, is nutty with a chili kick, leaving a short to medium finish. The vanilla flavours returned in the finish. 

We spotted Joe Ellis on the Whisky Shop stand and made our way over to catch up with him and here we sampled a couple of Yamazaki Japanese whiskies, starting with their 12 Year Old, a dram I have tried before at a whisky show earlier this year, but one I definitely wanted to revisit. 

This was the second that Kat had sip of and noted: The nose on this is very woody from being in 3 different casks, bourbon, sherry, and Japanese oak. It has a dry character which reminds me of the smell of dry bamboo. It also has floral bouquet quality with the sweetness from honey. The floral and wood characters come through in the taste with a fresh and light feel. I was also getting some lemon zest coming through and I noted the finish to be short. 

We followed the 12 Year Old with their 18 Year Old which is a magnificent dram.

We caught up again with Mike and Jon from Living Room Whisky, and decided that it would be a good time to break for a spot of lunch made our way back out in to the pub, where a table had been booked for whisky show participants, I think we were the first to use it, but another group of Whisky tasters joined just as we were finishing our lunch.

Will full stomachs we made our way back into the tasting show where I picked a Scapa 16 Year Old for my next dram, something thing that had been on my list since buying Ian Buxton's '101 Whiskies to try before you die' book towards the end of last year. I followed that with a Longmorn 16 Year Old, another one on my list as it's one from Ian's 101 World Whiskies. I've only tried one Longmorn before, that being a fabulous 20 Year Old from the SMWS

This was Kat's last tasting of the day and noted: Here the nose was full of rich fruits sweet sticky dates, marzipan, and pears. On the palate this was smooth and sweet with the same taste and consistency as runny honey. The finish was sweet and long with a smidgen of warming spices. 

On my list of whiskies to revisit we're Old Pulteney and Balblair, I wanted to refresh my notes of the fabulous 17 Year Old and Jim Murray's Whisky of the year from last year, the 21 Year Old. We first tasted these at Whisky Live, our first Whisky show at the beginning of the year.

I then tried the three from the Balblair distillery, starting with the first release from the 2002 Vintage, one I had tried earlier on in the year when it was first released. It's light and floral with citrus fruits on the nose initially before the vanilla and toffee notes come through, and sweet and spicy on the palate.
The Balblair '89 was a highlight dram
I then tried the 1997 Vintage, one that I hadn't tried before. This was from the second release of this vintage, and much fruitier on the nose with pears and small finger bananas. My final Balblair was the third release of their 1989 Vintage, a fabulous dram that I had previously tasted at the Stratford Whisky Show, and this was one of my highlights of the show, I went back for seconds of this.

On the next table were two more whiskies I was looking to taste, Ardmore's Traditional Cask, a NAS lightly peated single malt from the Highlands, and Laphroaig's 18 Year Old, another of my highlight drams.

So what can you follow a Laphroaig 18 Year Old with? I made my way back over to the Whisky Shop stand and met Craig Mills, Manager of the Birmingham branch. Craig suggested that I try the Tobermory 10 Year Old which was fresh and nutty.

For my final dram of the show, I went for another Japanese Whisky, and the Hibiki 12 Year Old

Kat was absolutely gutted that she wasn't able to try any of the Balblair or Old Pulteney malts, just nosing my glass, but these are definitely on the list of whiskies to try at next opportunity. It was lovely meeting Amy again, catching up with the Living Room Whisky guys, and very briefly catching up with Joe Ellis. 

Amy is planning her next whisky show next year in April so if you’re in the Birmingham area, I would keep a look out on the Birmingham Whisky Club website.

The full dram list, with links to separate blog posts where applicable and when finished!
  • Whisky Discovery #268  John Paul Single Cask Indian Whisky 57% abv
  • Whisky Discovery #89    Yamazaki 12 Year Old 43% abv
  • Whisky Discovery #269  Yamazaki 18 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #270  Scapa 16 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #271  Longmorn 16 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #57    Old Pulteney 17 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #58    Old Pulteney 21 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #151  Balblair '02
  • Whisky Discovery #272  Balblair '97
  • Whisky Discovery #124  Balblair '89
  • Whisky Discovery #273  Ardmore Traditional Cask
  • Whisky Discovery #274  Laphroaig 18 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #275  Tobermory 10 Year Old
  • Whisky Discovery #276  Hibiki 12 Year Old
Laphroaig - my 'first love'


Joshua Feldman said...

What a blast you had! Man, I wish I could have been there with you, old China plate!

Dave Worthington said...

It would have been an absolute pleasure to go with you Josh. I had a great day out, however towards the end I was feeling for Kat, watching me enjoy the drams while she could only nose them.