Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Midlands Whisky VI

Whisky Discovery
We're counting down the sleeps until this show!
You may have realised by now that we love Whisky Shows. We tend to visit between six and eight a year, and if we could afford the time and cost we would visit a lot more! In fact spending our time travelling the World's Whisky Shows would be an ideal past time, however we both have bills to pay!
The Midlands Whisky Festival run by Nickolls and Perks has become one of our firm favourites. The people of Stourbridge love their whisky, mind you it's not just locals that fill Stourbridge's Victorian Town Hall at each Whisky Festival, we've met whisky enthusiasts from all over the country at their festivals.

Nickolls and Perks Stourbridge corner shop
Nickolls and Perks are the UK's oldest provincial wine and spirits merchant and they've been proudly independent since 1797. They held their first Midlands Whisky Festival back in 2010, initially an annual event held on the last Saturday of September, they introduced a Spring Festival three years ago and their next event will be held on the last weekend of March, that's Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March! You can book your tickets here: Tickets

Whilst the Saturday show ordinarily opens at midday for ticket holders the are a limited number of 'VIP' tickets which allow access from 1045 which not only gives you an extra 'Dream Dram' token, but more importantly to the serious whisky fan, unrivalled access to the Brand Ambassadors and shop for a full hour and a quarter in a relaxed unhurried atmosphere whilst canapés are served. Once again in addition to the VIP ticket, a 'Devotee' ticket was available which not only gave all the VIP advantages but a selection of Dream Drams samples to take home too! 

We've attended all but the very first show and this will be their seventh event. Each time they are getting bigger and better, and this time they have announced a special Friday evening session alongside the usual Saturday show. Tickets are available for each session individually, and there are special deals for the full weekend. 

We often hear complaints that there simply isn't enough time to visit every stand. Nickolls and Perks have listened and have introduced this new format and we're told that the Friday session, running from 6:00pm until 9:00pm, will have a slightly different feel too it with some added attractions

If you've read any of our previous show reports (and each of the other four show reports can be found on this blog) you'll know that it involves a bit of a train trek from Whisky Discovery HQ to Stourbridge. It's not really difficult, but it is a full day out! 

You can see our previous Show reports here:
You can find out further information from their website here: Midlands Whisky Festival and while your booking your tickets let me tell you about our trip to Midlands Whisky VI last September.

Midlands Whisky Festival VI
Whilst we love visiting Whisky Festivals to discover new whiskies, meeting friends who share our passion is the icing on the whisky cake. Whisky has always been about the people, from those with the skills and passion to make the spirit to those that you look forward to sharing a dram or three with, and with each show we visit, we come away with new friends added to the list. We've been writing our Whisky Discovery blog for a little over three years now, attending our first ever event in April 2012 and it's immensely satisfying meeting people who read our posts and look out for us at these shows, just to say hello, and sometimes to tell us they love what we do!

We arrived in Stourbridge early which not only allowed us to take full advantage of our premium ticket, but also to grab breakfast and visit the Nickolls and Perks Whisky Emporium before heading over to the Town Hall for the start of the show. As soon as we arrived we headed straight over to catch up with Director of Sales and key organiser David Gardner to find out what was new this time. There were more Premium and Devotee tickets available this time and so to appease all, two Masterclasses were available, but you could only attend one of them. David had organised it so that we'd be able to cover both with a seat in each. 

Our first dram of the day was from The Balvenie where The Miss Whisky was in-charge, we chose their First Fill Single Cask 12 year Old, a perfect ‘breakfast dram’ and great way to start the day! As it was a new cask, it was a new Whisky Discovery to record. In addition to the 12 Year Old Single Barrel Alwynne also had the 17 Year Old Double Wood and the 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask on offer.
Kat with Scott and Alwynne
We also caught up with Scott Thompson at the Balvenie stand. It was his first trip to The Midlands Whisky Festival and he was very pleased with his Devotee pack although a little disappointed that he wasn't on the Diageo Special Release Masterclass with Colin Dunn. We've been on many a Colin Dunn Masterclass, and as it was Scott's first show we thought that he really must see him in action so we swapped our ticket (so Kat and I would go to the Macallan class together) To say he was pleased with this arrangement would be an understatement!

I left Kat upstairs while I dashed downstairs and my second stop was to say good morning to The Macallan Brand Ambassador Joy Elliot, where my second Whisky Discovery was made with The Macallan 18 Year Old Sherry Oak. It was at The Macallan stand that I met Mark from The Malt Review for the first time, it was his first trip to The Midlands Whisky Festival too
Mark from The Malt Review and Joy Elliot from The Macallan
With two ‘Dream Dram’ tokens in my pocket I decided that one of them should be used to sample the Springbank 21 Year Old. I’d heard great things about the Springbank 21 Year Old and it didn't disappoint! It was my third of the morning and another new Whisky Discovery. 

I went for a ‘wander’ while sipping my Springbank 21 year Old and ended up at the Morrison Bowmore stand where I spotted the Auchentoshan American Oak. I remember seeing this during my trip to Auchentoshan in July and seeing as I was coming to the end of my Springbank it would have been rude not to.

After having had a quick look around the stands I decided my attention should be spent at the Springbank Stand and decided to run through the range starting with their 10 Year Old to refresh my palate as it was a recent Whisky Discovery, The 10 was followed my the excellent 12 year Old Cask Strength where I decided that this alongside their 15 Year Old are 'must haves' for my shelf. The 12 CS was followed by the 18 Year Old which too is another fine dram.
Whisky Discovery
A belly full of Springbank
With a belly full of Springbank I headed back upstairs to find Kat who was with Glen Grant/Wild Turkey. I've had very little exposure to the Glen Grant range of single malts so took the opportunity to try the two that were on offer, the no-age statement ‘Major’s Reserve’ and their 10 Year Old. I wasn't ready for a Bourbon quite yet, but wanted to spend my second ‘Dream Dram’ token.

We decided that we should try the Glenmorangie Signet, a new Whisky Discovery for the both of us, but I wanted Kat to also try their fabulous 25 Year Old. I first tried this at the London International Wine Fair with Dave Broome (name dropper!) and I insisted that Kat should try it – she agreed with me – it’s fabulous! 
Whisky Discovery
A brace of 'Dream Drams' from Glenmorangie
Our Macallan Masterclass with Joy Elliot was due to start at 1330 but was running a tad late, however it was all worth waiting for! Six Macallan expressions with four new Whisky Discoveries. 

We started our Masterclass with the Fine Oak 15 Year Old – sadly no longer available in the UK but can be found on the continent. The 15 Year Old Fine Oak was followed by one of my favourites from the 1824 Series, Sienna. The 1824 Range was launched at Midlands Whisky III back in April 2013! 

After reacquainting ourselves with Sienna, the Fine Oak 18 Year Old was next in the line-up, and another from the 1824 Series, Ruby followed. Next came the Estate Reserve, a Travel Retail Exclusive, again from the 1824 Series, and another memorable dram. The final dram from our Macallan Masterclass was their 25 Year Old which was simply stunning! 
Whisky Discovery
The Macallan Masterclass Line up
After the Masterclass and some lunch I wanted to head back to the Springbank Stand and try their Longrow’s I started with their 11 Year Old ‘Red’. I was fairly certain I’d tried this before and on checking the Liquid Log found that I had indeed, way back in the Springbank Masterclass of Midlands Whisky II!  The Longrow was a new Whisky Discovery though, this NAS whisky replaced the Longrow CV. 

With the afternoon zipping along nicely I thought it was time to check out the Bourbons I saw earlier (and Kat had already told me about) and my palate needed a change so I headed back upstairs to find Wild Turkey and took the last dram out of this bottle of their 101, following that up with the 81. Both were a welcome break from the malts, but I preferred the 101 for sipping.
Whisky Discovery
A brace of Wild Turkeys
The over-running Macallan Masterclass meant we missed the Mortlach mini-masterclass with Colin Dunn - he was presenting the 'Old and Rare', which by all accounts is neither, however I needed to have some Mortlach in my life that afternoon. I had spotted this 13 Year Old from the Hunter Laing’s ‘Old Malt Cask’ range and made this my next dram.

Last pours were announced at 1630 and the hard-working stallholders started packing their wares up and emptying their bottles. My last ‘real’ dram was a Johnnie Walker ‘Odyssey’, but the final drink of the show was this ‘Smoky Cokey’ from Colin Dunn – Lagavulin 16 Year Old and coke. I know it sounds so wrong, but was a refreshing end to a fabulous show, we even caught Jon from Living Room Whisky nosing his Smoky Cokey!

And so another great Whisky Show was over and it was time to make our way home, and following our footsteps from the last Midlands Whisky Festival, we stopped of in the City Centre to grab some dinner before heading to the station and arrived safely home after around 14 hours from when we left that morning!

The next Midlands Whisky Festival is on Friday 27th/Saturday 28th March and tickets are selling fast! You can find out more information here: Midland Whisky Festival
Get your tickets early!
We met a great number of people at the show and they're all definitely worth following if your on Twitter: @Ardbaggie @Nickolls_Perks @midlandswhisky @LRWhisky @themisswhisky @ColinDunnWhisky @thejoyofwhisky @MyWhiskyGuide @MaltReview @SCOTTDOGG11

If we met and I've missed you off of this list please let me know and I'll update the list!

The full dram list included 17 new Whisky Discoveries, 6 revisits and one Smoky Cokey, and you can see all of the photos in our Facebook Album here
  • WD#1003 The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Cask
  • WD#1004 The Macallan 18 Year Old Sherry Cask
  • WD#1005 Springbank 21 Year Old
  • WD#1006 Auchentoshan American Oak NAS
  • WD#963 Springbank 10 Year Old
  • WD#1007 Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength
  • WD#1008 Springbank 18 Year Old
  • WD#1009 Glen Grant Majors Reserve
  • WD#1010 Glen Grant 10 Year Old
  • WD#1011 Glenmorangie Signet
  • WD#438 Glenmorangie 25 Year Old
The Macallan Materclass with Joy Elliot
back to the Show
  • WD#173 Longrow Red 11 Year Old
  • WD#1016 Longrow NAS
  • WD#1017 Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
  • WD#1018 Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
  • WD#1019 Mortlach Old Malt Cask
  • WD#563 Johnnie Walker Odyssey, and it was all washed down with a Smoky Cokey!
Whisky Discovery
A Smoky Cokey!
Sláinte! Dave

No comments: