Category Archives: Festival

Midlands Whisky Festival 2013

I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Midlands Whisky Festival this weekend (28th September 2013), which is held in Stourbridge, in association with Nickolls and Perks. It was my first year attending the event and I have to say, I was very impressed. It was held in the town hall, just across the way from their shop, which was a nice building with lots of character, giving you plenty to look around at during the event. Not that you need to of cause with the fantastic selection of whisky/whiskey that was on display there.

I purchased the VIP ticket which give me entry to the festival a little early, 10:45. It also came with a tasting glass, 2 dream dram tokens and a seat at the Dalmore Constellations masterclass, these will be discussed later.

I started by quickly circulating the event, looking at what was on offer on each of the stands so that I could plan roughly what I wanted to try. There were whiskies, cognac, gin and rum on offer, the gin and rum being the last I got to on my quick tour so I thought I would start with a refreshing gin.

Gin

The one that was on offer was Warner Edwards, Harrington Dry Gin bottled at 44%. I have recently found a couple of gins that I can take neat, I am generally not a fan I have discovered; this is one however falls into the exception, it was very easy to drink neat, with plenty of flavour, I slight spice to it as well, which all means it will also hold up to mixing if you prefer a bit of tonic. It is certainly one that I will be grabbing a bottle of sometime soon.

Rum

I then moved onto the rum stall which had 3 El Dorado rums on offer, starting with the Gold 12 year old Guyana Demerara Rum bottled at 40%. This was a pleasant rum with a lot of flavour; I was told it was also the one with the most body, although I thought it actually still lacked some. It was however a little sweet for my taste so would not put it on my list of future purchases. I then tried the Reserve 15 year old Guyana Demerara Rum bottled at 43%; this was a different beast entirely in my eyes. The sweetness had gone and had been replaced by even more complex aromas and flavours with a dryer finish, making it much more pleasant and easier to drink. I was told that the 15yo is generally the one preferred by whisky drinks, I can see why. At £48 however, I am not sure I can quite justify a bottle, as nice as it was; maybe when my whisky collection is a little more complete I can find a place for one.

Whisky

Now onto the whiskies. This is by no means exhaustive, I have only made notes on a few of the ones I tried and simply scored some of the others, I got a little distracted chatting to people to make notes on all of them 🙂

Kilchoman

To start was Kilchoman Machir Bay, bottled at 46%. For those who do not know, Kilchoman it a relatively new farm distillery, first opening in 2005 on Islay, and was the first new distillery to be built for 124 years on the island and I had been looking forward to trying one for a while. I am very mood driven with my drinks, and unfortunately I was not really in the right mood for a peaty whisky, which this is. It has a crisp nose though and is light, easy drinking with a slight sweetness on the palate, all leading to a slightly dry medium length finish. I opted to slightly adjust my score, making the assumption that I was in the mood for a peaty whisky, this gave it a 6/10, which is pretty good for what is still a young whisky.

Glenglassaugh

I also tried a couple from Glenglassaugh to allow me to compare after my Revival review. They had both the Evolution and 30 year old on offer that I had not tried. The Evolution was a 57.2% bottling which they no longer produce, this has been lowered to 50% for future bottlings. It is a bourbon only finish so is quite light and fresh but with plenty of body from the 57.2%, opened up nicely with a little water. I give it a score of 7/10, which is one above the Revival. The 30 year old was their Dream Dram, which was basically reserved for the best each stall had on offer and meant that they had to be purchased separately. The 30 year old is bottled at 44.8% and was really rich with plenty of sherry notes on the nose, both of which carried through to the palate with a smoothness that continued to the end, which was of medium length. A good solid 9/10 for this one.

Japanese Whiskies

I tried a couple of others including a couple of Japanese whiskies which I was looking forward to, a Hibiki 12yo (5/10) and a Yamazaki 12yo (6/10) before moving upstairs to start the Dalmore Constellations tasting session.

Dalmore Constellations

Come 12:00, as the doors opened for the standard ticket holders, we were moved upstairs to start our tasting session. I have done a separate post on the Constellations tasting.

The Rest

Once I returned from the Constellations tasting I met up with a friend who was at the Hardy Cognac stand, so I joined in. After a short conversation with the gentleman at the stand he offered me a taste of the 50 year old, to compare with the 50yo I had at home. This was a very enjoyable cognac, smooth and worryingly easy to drink, and at £150 was also not too badly priced for its age. We then got to sample there Dream Dram, the 60 year old. Again a lovely drink, smooth, complex and easy to drink but for me was not that much better than the 50yo, given the price difference.

I then continued to work my way around the hall, including:

  • Glendronach 18 year old
  • Glendronach 21 year old
  • Laphroaig 1990 Directors Cut 21 Year Old
  • Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • An Irish Whiskey, I think it was Teeling
  • Jura Prophecy
  • Auchentoshan Three Woods
  • and many more

I also met Tom who runs Shroud Whisky Club (find them on Twitter, @StroudWhisky) who was a very pleasant guy and whom I had a good, whisky central, conversation with.

Overall it was a fantastic day, there were lots of great spirits on offer and I got to meet some great people. I look forward to the next one.

Dalmore Constellations Tasting

As I arrived at my seat I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a little goody bag which contained a book containing full details of the Dalmore Constellations range and a very nice, and heavy, tumbler. More importantly I was also presented with 6 whiskies. The tasting was ran by David Robertson, the Rare Whisky Director at Dalmore and a fantastic bloke, knowledgeable and a good laugh. Before moving onto the Constellations range we had a couple to warm up with:

18 Year Old

It all started with the 18 year old; a dark amber whisky bottled at 43% and retailing from around £90. What hit me first was that all too familiar Dalmore signature note that was present on both the nose and then palate. It was rich on both nose and palate which led to a lovely smoothness and onto a long warming finish. I great introductory whisky for the tasting, 6/10.

King Alexander III

We then moved on to the King Alexander III which is bottled at 40% and retails from around £120. The King Alexander is an amazing mix of whiskies that have been matured in a variety of casks; Dalmore’s master distiller, Richard Paterson, selected differently-aged malts matured in Madeira, Sherry, Marsala, Port and Bourbon casks to create this fantastic whisky. All of this gave it a dark amber colour and a rich but slightly sweet nose; the palate was also rich, well rounded and smooth with some spice and a slight dryness coming through towards the end. The finish was of medium length with an initial sweetness that dried towards the end. I gave it a well deserved 8/10.

Constellations 1978

Then on to the Constellations collections, starting with the oldest we were to taste, the 1978. The ’78 was matured in American white oak for 29 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years before being bottled. It was a light amber colour, bottled at 47.1% and retails at around £6400. The nose had a slight sweetness to it but nothing overpowering, very well balanced with the complexity of the nose. On the palate it was very light with light fruit notes and some citrus coming through; this lightness continued onto the medium length finish with the addition of some sweetness. I did not get the usual Dalmore flavour coming through with this one, it actually reminded me of a really good Armagnac. An outstanding whisky, 10/10.

Constellations 1981 Cask 4

There are 2 1981 bottlings in the collection, cask 3 and 4, I tried cask 4 which has been matured for 26 years in American white oak and then moved into an Amoroso Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years and gives it a dark amber colour. It is bottled at 54% and retails at around £3750. The nose is again rich with definite sherry notes and the sweetness that comes with it. The palate is also very rich, full bodied with the signature Dalmore flavour also coming through which lasts to the medium length, rich finish. An enjoyable whisky, 7/10.

Constellations 1990

The 1990 has been matured in American white oak for 19 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 2 years before being bottled at 56.5%, and retailing at around £2500. It has an amber colour and a sweet but rich nose. On the palate it is smooth and rich which actually lightens towards the end, it also has some dryness without the addition of water which does disappear once some is added. The Dalmore flavour that I expect was not present in this one, or at least not in the foreground, there were some hints of it in the background. This dryness continues to the medium length finish; again with the addition of water this is not apparent. This one definitely benefits from the addition of water where the previous ones did not need it. An amazing whisky, 9/10.

Constellations 1992

And finally onto the 1992 which has been matured in American white oak for 10 years and them moved into a European oak Quercus Robur Port Pipe for a further 9 years before being bottled at 53.8%; retailing at around £2000. This has a dark amber colour due to the length of time in the port pipe and gives it a rich, sweet nose with some citrus notes coming through also. The palate is, like all of the others, rich and smooth but also with some sweetness there but very well rounded and full bodied. It has a lovely long, warm finish to it with some dryness present without the addition of water, much like the ’90. It again has the distinctive Dalmore flavour, a very enjoyable dram, 8/10

Conclusion

Overall this was a very special tasting, previously I had only tried the Dalmore 12yo, which I was not particularly taken on to be honest, which is why I wanted to do this tasting, to sample some of the best Dalmore has to offer in order to be able to really decide whether Dalmore was a dram for me. Well I think it is safe to say that they won me over, I may never be able to afford any of the Constellations collection, but the King Alexander III is in reach and is also a fantastic whisky, I urge all to try this one, so much going on in it and I can imagine that you will pick different things out each time you try it due to the variety of casks used.