A Year of Festivals…and Friends

Today I attended the Yorkshire Whisky Festival hosted by The Whisky Lounge.

Maybe this doesn’t mean a lot to anyone but me, but this is the anniversary of my first year of festivals. And it’s been a good year.

It has been a year that saw me setting up iheartwhisky fudge. It’s been the year I started to write and accept advice and support and the courage to just write what I feel. A lot of this is in the “Inside the Bottle” pieces. Glimpses of me. Glimpses of my insecurities and an insight into a new confidence that I’m slowly building. A year of discovering new whiskies through twitter tastings. And I’m so grateful & appreciative of that.

Today was a day of fun and laughter. A day of learning things that made me smile and a day where the friends I hold dear were.

From my first dram of the day the Ben Rinnes 21 year old… to having absinthe squirted into my mouth with an atomiser and then enjoying a “morning glory” cocktail with whisky, ginger and absinthe. The things that made today special were paying penance at the Fentimans stand and other things that made me and others smile.

Then the fist bump off the chap speaking to Dave on the Boutique-y stand and having to do a typical me thing…walking off giggling and leaving the moment there, safe in the knowledge a smile was evoked out of a daft situation. Then a delicious dram that many crave yet so few taste.

It’s been a day of new faces. Of well known faces, and the faces of friends. And an escape from egos and animosity and point scoring. Just stories and moments and kindness.

Lovely young Joe and the bottles of Salty Sea Dog. Selling fudge. Giving fudge to friends. It all made today special.

I could wax lyrical about the whiskies but this is to say thank you.

David Allison who makes the awesomely fab whiskey tumblers and his lovely wife. Great to meet you both. You have a very happy customer.

Vicky, Gina, Eddie and the rest of TWL crew.

The ever so lovely Dave Worthington and his wonderful drams – thank you. Alex from Mackmyra – thanks for the hug. Dean from Murray McDavid…the Glen Moray was delicious. Meeting This is My Dram Andy & Stu and having a wee chat with them. Thanks both. Saying hello to Alistair and Heather. Meeting Edwin Milner and his friend too.

Then saying hello to Sorren – ocdwhisky and passing on his royalties for “nom nom…it’s all gone!!” lovely to see you and I hope you enjoy the fudge and the Paul John millionaires shortbread!

Abbie & Chris from Cooper King Distillery. Your enthusiasm and warmth is fantastic. You’re a lovely hard working couple who are heading into an exciting phase…I will come and see you soon!!

I feel sad there’s nothing on the horizon festival wise but I just have to wrap myself up in happy memories and hibernate till next year.

I travel a long way to spend time with friends. It’s worth every penny!!

Should anyone want a resident fudge maker to attend festivals…let me know.

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…”

Hugs. 

Sarah / Smoggy / Smiley x x 

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Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask

The wonderful chaps at The Dram Team had included this in one of their delightful boxes. If you like me enjoy having a treat delivered straight to your door then I heartily recommend you give them a try.

This sample I’m about to review is the Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask – 57.8% vol.

This is a distillery I know nothing about so I’ll add a little info from their website…

“Established in 2005, Kavalan is Taiwan’s first whiskymaker and the nation’s only family-owned whisky distillery. Kavalan takes the old name of Yilan county where the distillery is located in northeastern Taiwan. The pure water and fresh air make this part of the subtropical island the ideal environment for the production of whisky.

Kavalan Distillery is an entrepreneur’s dream come true. Mr. Tien-Tsai Lee, the founder of King Car conglomerate had long dreamed of producing a Taiwanese whisky, yet it was not until 2002 when Taiwan joined the WTO that his goal could be achieved.
The distillery brings together a professional whisky R&D team with a world-class master blender, Ian Chang, as well as the expertise of renowned whisky specialist, the late Dr. Jim Swan.
The team implements the highly specialized distilling and blending skills that King Car Group has cultivated for more than 30 years through beverage experience and knowledge”.

So. To the sample.

Full of dark succulent richness. That incredible burst of demerara sugar coupled with delightful rich fruits. Dates & warm leather. A slice of delicious fruit cake. There feels like there’s a bit of age to this. The colour is magnificent, natural and as it’s left to open there’s milk chocolate and a hint of creaminess with the sherry. They’re all jostling for your attention and beckoning you to sip.

This whisky is cask strength (which is what I love) and it was matured in Oloroso Sherry casks.

The palate delivers a gentle warmth and a fullness on the mouth. It’s smooth and the fruit and vanilla mingle with a slight peppery spicy warmth whilst there’s a hint of coffee bitterness too. The finish leaves you savouring the aforementioned flavours.

I’m glad I’ve finally tried this.

Sarah

The Benromach – Twitter Tasting

Sadly I had to duck out of the tasting at the last moment. However, I’ve finally had the chance to catch up with a brace of Benromach.

And what a treat!

I’m not sure what order they were sampled, but I chose the Triple Distilled, then the Château Cissac.

Benromach Triple Distilled

50% vol

A little smoke and vanilla. Apples and orange on the nose.

Palate is quite punchy but smooth. Really wasn’t expecting that. Smooth and a little viscous. Malt flavours come to the fore. Oak and dark bitter chocolate too. Some lemon or definitely a citrus fruit. The smoke still making itself known in the background.

Delicious finish with the dark chocolate remaining.

Château Cissac

45% vol.

Again a certain amount of subtle smoke on the nose. Fruity again…galia melon mingling with the smoke and juicy apples. There’s a delicious oak coming through with a delightful orange scent. The palate delivers too. A lovely richness in the mouth coupled with a good grind of black pepper. There’s a yummy dark chocolate bitterness, vanilla too. I do love the oak on the palate too. The finish is delicious and reassuringly good, and temptingly warm.

Thanks to Steve Rush and Benromach for including me on this tasting.

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Sarah

Happy 5th Birthday That Boutique-y Whisky Company

A few weeks ago whilst having a five minute break from my computer at work I saw that it the fifth birthday for That Boutique-y Whisky Company and what is more we could send a card / message to celebrate this fantastic event. Those that did were then invited to join in a birthday tweet tasting. How utterly fab!

Dave Worthington aka the guv’nor was guiding us through the tasting last Wednesday night while all 21 of us enjoyed five wonderful delights from That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

The first dram of the evening was the 7 year old Speyburn batch 1 – 49.5% I was welcomed with a deliciously fresh and fragrant grassy nose. A little cream soda and vanilla enticing me to have a sip… the palate didn’t fail with zesty orange and delicious vanilla accompanied by nibbles of a malted milk biscuit. The spices that appear are not off putting, they’re lovely and give this a yummy finish with some creaminess remaining.

Next up was the Irish Single Malt Batch 1, this is 14 years old at 48.6% – I’ve not had a lot of Irish whiskey so this was a welcome treat. You get an inviting soft fruity type nose with a delicate hint of Sherry and Mr. Toms nuts (in case I need to explain…this is a bar of nuts covered in sticky caramel. And not some weird fetish.) It’s quite a delicious nose. The palate gives you a yummy bitter mocha flavour with fruit sitting alongside it. Leather and some dark sugar too. The finish is smooth and creamy with toffee and the fruit remains on the palate too.

I guess I should add that I love the cards that accompanied this tasting from the ever so talented Emily Chappell.

The nose on the Blended Scotch #3 Batch 1 which is a 23 year old was immediately inviting with a delicious full richness and wood. I love the scent of wood.. and maybe a bit musky. Toffee too and maybe a hint of leather. It was definitely drawing me in. And as it was left to open orange came oozing out. The palate is full with Leibniz dark chocolate biscuits which came through on the finish with a satisfying finish.

We then moved on to the Invergordon which is a single grain whisky and it’s 43 lovely years old. A lovely nose with a little acetone and this is in no way a bad thing. There’s caramel and sticky toffee. I get the cloves which reminds me of having a poorly tooth as a child. There’s a little wood too. The palate is smooth but big! Vanilla and mocha it’s both sweet and full and reassuringly good. I like this…I’m just having another sip and I’m smiling.

And as the balloons were being popped and party bags were being readied we moved on to the last dram of the night The Macallan 29 year old – 43.5%

As the postcard has “hmmm…curious” written on it, I must say I tend to agree. I think I’m perhaps missing something vital with Macallan.

Time will tell. Maybe I’ve just not tried the right one…yet.

Anyway, back to the dram. I’m getting liquorice comfits on the nose – anyone who lived the 70’s will remember torpedos. This in turn gives me some mint and cake with jam. Maybe even a breakfast bar – think Kellogg’s sticky strawberry/fruit kind of thing. The dryness of the palate mingles with some maltiness which follows through on the finish.

I think my delights of the evening have to be the Invergordon, then the Irish / Blended Scotch whisky jostling for second and third position.

So a huge hug of thanks to Dave and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for the samples and inviting me to the partaaaay! It was a blast!

And it was nice to be in such amiable and fun company too…now where’s the blindfold, I think there’s a donkey needs his tail pinning back on…oh and the pizza was coming!

Sarah 🙂 x

The Whisky Exchange Show (TWE) 

Or of course I could go all youthful and say “Totally Wicked Event!”

My little fudge business gained me a ticket to the trade show on the Monday and I was really looking forward to it. Having a day free on the Sunday made one decision easy, buy a ticket for that.

So I did.

And this is how it went…

I headed for an early morning flight down to London and after getting off the wrong tube train (yep was going in the opposite direction) and on to the right one I was nearly at my destination. Thanks to Jon for keeping me right. I then quickly checked my bags in at the hotel and headed across the road to join the queue with a great deal of excitement.

And I was in.

First stop was Alex at Mackmyra – good to say hello to a friendly face and a kind offer of keeping an eye on my bags while I disappeared somewhere was kindly appreciated. I got my guv’nor hug and it was a good un. Said hello to the lovely Kat and met the ever so talented Emily Chappel.

Lots of familiar faces and lots of faces that recognised me…especially if they spot the back of my phone 🙂 thanks Christy (Bruichladdich) I enjoyed the Black Arts….but oops I forgot to come back for the Octomore…silly me!!

I had to head for the Elements of Islay stand to see what these little white boxes with hearts on contained having seen them on a photo. Yes of course these were boxes of Peat fudge and it was lovely to say hello to Myriam!

I finally had the chance to meet and say hello to Angela D’Orazio from Mackmyra. A wonderfully energetic, open & friendly lady.

I was lucky to have met Mark from Whiskycast who kindly gave me one of his Glencairn glasses, and I gave him a box of my fudge. Mark also asked me to say a few words for his podcast (and yes believe it or not I am quite shy..) So do feel free to have a listen to his Sunday show from the festival. Lots of interesting people. Then me…lol.

So the day went a bit like this…whisky, whisky, whisky…oodles of whisky…and I didn’t fall over once!! (Ignore what Twitter says..) So many delicious whiskies passed my lips.

Though I did nearly nod off in Wetherspoons as the clock tick tocked towards a late night…after a 4am alarm call it was bedtime.

What struck me about Sunday was the camaraderie of the whisky community.

So…yes. What a day! And guess what…there was Monday still to come.

Monday had me arranging to meet Adrian, Jon and Steve for breakfast…then Jon had kindly enquired with Billy if I could join them for brekky number 2. The real one. The wet one. The whisky one.

Upon arrival at Old Billingsgate Market we queued for The Breakfast Club or the Bloggers Breakfast… chuffed to bits to see my name Sarah…was in fact Fudge Queen. I liked that a lot.

A thoroughly enjoyable breakfast of; an Irish Single Malt – 27 year old bottle by The Whisky Agency and The Whisky Exchange. Have to say I enjoyed this again having sampled it on the Sunday. We then moved on to the Frapin Cognac – 22 years old and again rather yummy. We finished brekky with a 40 year old Strathisla from Gordon & McPhail that was distilled in 1977 when I still ran about in short dresses and pigtails… a lovely chance to meet new friends…friends from Dramboree and some old friends too. And apparently I saved someone’s night… I won’t elaborate, but it was a nice story and I passed them another box of fudge for supplying breakfast. And thanks again Billy!

More hugs. More fudge & goodies handed over to a friend and off downstairs for the trade day.

This was to be another fine day of delightful & delicious whiskies. Some teased the palate deliciously. Others were sipped and forgotten (Starward on Sunday.)

Awesomely good Tomatin… deliciously divine GlenDronach Kingsman (sip of.) Tantalising Tomintoul 40 year old. Brilliant Boutique-y offerings… amongst others. I enjoyed spending time at the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh stand too!

Then it was time to bid folks a “see you later”…

Dare I say it, “roll on next year!”

And in case I’ve not mentioned you above it was lovely meeting Steve Prentice, meeting old chums Jon and Adrian. The lovely Dave Worthington. The cheeky Colin Dunn, always makes you feel welcome and David too of course. Lovely guys.

Nice to say hello to Sorren again.. nom, nom…it’s all gone! 

The Brum posse…Chris, Jamie and Amy.

Who else? Mark (Whiskycast) and Angela D’Orazio and Alex at Mackmyra.

Eddie and Amanda and other happy faces from The Whisky Lounge.

Anna and Martin – and a big thanks to Anna (you know why 😊)

Jeanine – great to see you there and meet your hubby. Hope to catch up soon.

Also Andrew from andrews_share – nice to say hello and hand deliver a fudge order too!

Emma and Iain from the utterly fab Glen Moray distillery and the sofa mouse…

Who else? Shilton and Stewart – thanks for the drinks and nibbles. Stewart you’re a blast! Bumped into Craig and Jason too. And of course there was Kieran…who I abandoned mid sentence to rush back to my hotel. I’m sure I’m forgiven 😊

Ah yes, Andy Purslow had me laughing and thanks for that dram 😋

Team Bruichladdich were fab as well.

And I think that’s a wrap.

Sarah x

 

 

A Year in Words, Thoughts & Photos

So my first year as a wordsmith happened this weekend, so I thought I’d have a wee look back at what I’ve done, seen and experienced.

It all started with someone on Twitter suggesting I should try it. So lots of thinking followed with a “why the hell not?” So I started.

My first entry was after my visit to the Glen Garioch distillery in Oldmeldrum. Quickly followed by trips to The Benromach and Glen Moray Glen Moray Tour

There’s been fudge, festivals and smiles. I’ve been exploring my thoughts in my “Inside the Bottle” pieces. Perhaps too open? Perhaps too honest? Its been quite cathartic and if you have read any of them – thank you.

I have written about my festival trips from the first one last year at the Yorkshire Whisky Festival

Tastings with the Dram Team (memorable discoveries) Incredible Indies – The Dram Team and those I’ve been lucky to be chosen to take part in with Steve Rush The Balvenie Tweet Tasting – The Craftsmen’s Dinner

So many fab opportunities. Lots of fun, a hell of a lot of smiles. Great memories and a lot to look forward to.

If this is your first time reading my words “hello” and thanks for popping by. And to everyone else that has, thank you.

Big hugs as always – Sarah / Smiley / Smoggy x x

 

Distilled 17

So having left The Whisky Lounge festival in Manchester and hot footing it to the airport I was now off to Inverness airport. Destination Elgin and Distilled 17.

Upon arrival and eventually gaining access to the airport (they’d forgotten to open the arrivals door) and waving down the bus to Elgin (it was leaving) I arrived at the Town Hall in Elgin. It was very odd being back at the venue. In a past life I’d been there for assemblies (I was once a Jehovah’s Witness.) Glad to be back under vastly different circumstances…

Having relieved myself of my case and a quick hello to Graham Coull I headed off for a dram. Where did I go? Glen Moray of course. A lovely warm hello from Fay and handing over a wee box for the master distiller I enjoyed a lovely 18 year old. It was soon time to dash off for “Happy Birthday Glen Moray” and a lovely tasting it was. Of course I especially enjoyed the 1994 Sherry Cask finish and the Mastery was a truly delicious dram. I was sat alongside Andrew of @andrews_share and it was lovely to meet him. It was also interesting to discover what prevents a lady from growing hairs on her chest…

I also met Justine @kaskwhisky And it was good to say hello, chat and share some more Aberlour A’bunadh.

Apart from a few more hellos it was time to skidaddle and head for home…

So “see you laters” done, I was off!

A great evening and a great finish to a fab weekend!

Sarah