Edinburgh Whisky Festival

 

Alternative title being “the other side of the table”…

I was invited to the Whisky Lounge Edinburgh by Amanda & Eddie to sell my fudge…so after making it I packed my lovely Balvenie hamper and Glen Moray bag and headed for Edinburgh on what was to be a swelteringly hot day.

I arrived at the really impressive Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. A friendly face greeted me, this was of course Mr Boutique-y Whisky the lovely Dave. So a quick hug and a hello and I went to pop my bags on my table. I saw Amanda who showed me where I could leave my case for the day, then after getting some directions my next port of call was a wee whisky shop on Rose St. And who would I find there? Well this would be Tom Thomson. A blogger and friend who I have tweeted with for 5 years or so, so finally I’d be able to say “hello”. A warm welcome greeted me as well as a rather delicious sample of a 25 year old Bunnahabhain. Lovely sweet caramel and toffee and then a deliciously smoky palate 🙂 whilst I was in the door went, and in walked Dave McKinnon and his stepson Graeme. Another hello, a hug goodbye to Tom and time to race back for the festival.

It was a wonderfully amusing day with lots of familiar faces, across from me was Paul Dempsey from Spey Single Malt and yes I got a hug… and amongst the other wonderful people I met was the lovely Justine Hazelhurst (Kask Whisky) and we have a few wee chats, and I might pop down for one of her events… Roy from Aqvavitae came past and said hello… I was on a stand next to a lovely pie maker from Mussleburgh whose banter was most welcome. I also met the lovely Whisky’n’Whiskers and her sister, again a lovely chat. David from Scotland Spirit spotted me and said hello… between times I was selling my fudge and it really was well received.  I looked across to my left and saw a familiar Tube Map and decided to go and have a look and met Blair Bowman and it was fantastic to say “thanks for signing my book “For Smiley” and to introduce myself.IMG_5650.JPG

Some were surprised there were a few choices of whiskies in the fudge and as ever the fudges I brought hit the spot. The Glen Moray fudge was extremely well received, as was the GlenDronach and the Caol Ila 12.

The wonderful and energetic Whisky Lounge – Eddie, Amanda and team were always on the go, and their passion and enthusiasm is evident amongst all of them. So refreshing to see!

Highlights of the day? I had a couple of men shouting to me in the street “Iove your fudge”, and the gentleman towards the end of the night who sampled a piece and declared “I love you – I’ll come back” and he did. And the old gentleman Dave who wanted to take my photo ha ha and then asked what I was selling and after sampling a piece went happily away with a box for himself. I sold most of the boxes full price but as the evening drew to a close I managed to sell the rest a little cheaper.

Banter, fun and laughter is the key to life…like meeting an old friend Rob (Bruce) It was so lovely to see him and catch up. And the lovely ambassadors from Fentimans, Mackmyra UK, etc. etc. Their love of their jobs and their humour is wonderful to see. And lastly the end of evening drinks.

So thank you everyone. A brilliant day and a fun evening. Truly a day of smiles, hugs and aching cheeks (upper.) And of course a few delicious drams…

Sarah x

 

 

 

 

 

Whisky Fudge

On the June 17th I’ll have a large box or hamper with 30 boxes of whisky fudge and heading along to The Whisky Lounge festival in Edinburgh. A thrill to have been invited, and another opportunity to meet some amazing whisky folks!

I’ll be taking along a few favourites, Glen Moray Elgin Classic Sherry Cask finish, Caol Ila 12 and lastly GlenDronach Batch 5 fudge…so if you’re popping along do say hello and feel free to buy a box.

See you then!

Sarah

Bristol Whisky Festival

Saturday 29th April saw me attending the Bristol Whisky Festival.

I had travelled down the day before to stay with Jo for the evening. An adventurous journey that saw me spending some time in Cheltenham (I’ll get the pronunciation correct at some point) where I took myself off to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Many giggles from me at the double entendres. After which I was off to meet the lovely Jo and her hubby.

Saturday saw us up and dressed and off to Brizzle (get me.)

The venue was a hall, the name of which is causing much consternation in the local area.

Standing in the queue I was greeted by a fellow tweeter and eventually worked out who they were.

So glass, pipette and tokens in hand it was upstairs to get cracking. First stop was to see the lovely Dave from That Boutique-y Whisky Company and get my first dram too.

After saying hello to Dave it was nice to see some more friendly faces, the ever so humorous Colin Dunn and his megaphone adding additional comments to Eddie’s announcements.

I must say this festival was more about mingling and chatting this time. Met some fellow tweeters namely Adrian and Jon. Then Rob. Who else? Said hello and a brief chat with Gina 🙂 then a chat with Amanda and Liz.

Then out for lunch with some folks from the Stroud Whisky Club.

After coming back I finally spoke to a couple from Newcastle who I’d first spotted at Birmingham last year (eyeing my Glen Moray bag) and then Newcastle and now Bristol. So at least I now know Nicky and John and I’m sure I’ll see them both again. Had a nice Kilkerran from Grant and later bagged a few wee samples for a bit of experimenting…

Whilst stood at TBWC stand I was approached by the lovely Chris of the Dram Team. A great chat and finally a chance to put a face to a name…but forgot to thank him for his funny messages on the monthly box cards…so thank you. They are most welcome 🙂

A big thank you to everyone I spoke to for making me feel so welcome. Thanks for the laughs and conversations and who knows, you might see me soon!

Sarah

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Newcastle Whisky Festival

Last Friday morning with bags packed, a couple of whisky samples and whisky fudge I boarded the train to Newcastle.

With a book in front of me I sat and planned a little sample session and note taking of my Boutique-y Whisky Carsebridge sample, maybe an hour or so into my trip. Earphones in.. then came the message over the tannoy “blah, blah, DRY TRAIN, blah blah, NO ALCOHOL till after Newcastle!!”

Well my little bag of goodies wasn’t helping as the aroma of Paul John “Edited” and GlenDronach “batch 5” fudge teased me with their delicious aroma…the man opposite did say that had I shared my samples he wouldn’t have told anyone. Yet, the thought of being met at the station by BTP most definitely put paid to that plan. So I sat with The Angels’ Share by James Markert (good read) and let the miles slip by.

So I arrived in Newcastle. I’d been trying to recall how often I must have visited as a child, as I’m from Middlesbrough (smoggy – in case no one got that yet..) but having left the area at 10 years of age, a lot has changed.

Checked into the hotel. Changed rooms. Chilled, showered and off I went to the evening session.

So here I was, festival number three. Wristband on, glass, pipette, and tokens in hand I went in.

First of all I said hello to and dropped off some fudge with the ladies from Angel’s Share Glass – they had the GlenDronach and then later I handed the Paul John “Edited” to Sorren and Craig, seemed fitting 🙂

I went and said hello to the wonderful Boutique-y Dave and had a very warm welcome from him. It was also nice meeting Joe from Twitter and Paul from Speyside Distillers. Then I went to see Colin Dunn (lovely funny man) and David from Spirit Scotland and the man who poured me my first festival dram in York, the delicious BenRinnes 23 year old. It was nice having a chat and a laugh, and making them laugh at my ever so well thought out blog “ILOVEWHISKY” well it says it all 🙂

Said hello to the Paul John men and their wonderful array of whiskies and delivered the ugly duckling fudge that was in fact a swan with its slightly smoky finish.

It was also nice speaking to the lovely Gina as I escaped the older gentlemen admirers. Ed was lovely and thankfully a) not 30 years younger and b) not single.

So, I tried a few drams on my travels round, from Angels’ nectar (thanks Karen) very smooth and an easy drinker (the whisky) to the Quiet Man, also very smooth and although perhaps not for me, still a nice whisky. I had Talisker, Lagavulin, Paul John Bold, Peated, probably a #1906, some Mackmyra, TBWC, Aberlour A’bunadh and possibly (definitely) a couple more on my way in and out of the gathering. I also had some rather scrummy chicken curry and chips.

It was a lovely evening and then I headed back to my digs.

Day 2 was to come…

This was the Saturday session, big brekky time and off I went, with my luggage in tow. It was nice to pop back in and revisit some more whiskies, I had the lovely Caledonian from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, stopped by to say hello to Colin and David who thought I looked bright eyed and energised I then went off for one final dram as the place was absolutely packed.

So final delicious dram poured, fudge and business card handed over with a few remaining tokens and and all too brief farewell, I was gone.

But I shall return…

Whisky Musing

I have been thinking…

I have been happy returning to the arms of the whisky family, I have begun to flourish. I found a voice within me that wanted to express her thoughts on whisky and with encouragement I set about documenting my own personal experiences of experimenting, sampling and savouring the hidden delights of these casks that are awoken from their slumber to delight and tantalise our senses…from the humble source of the water, right through to pouring the whisky in to a glass and the eager anticipation of what might be. The process almost feels like a story where the characters all come together… And like all  stories there are always two sides, and in our personal evaluations I strongly believe that we can have similar experiences yet until we sample the same whisky we cannot fully appreciate what others have.

One thought was “how can I express my feelings and words in such a way to engage the reader and convey the colour, the nose, palate and finish?” but I have had some good feedback…

I’m learning a lot through the wonderful experience of whisky festivals (and tastings) too, as people interact with each other as whiskies are explored while senses are teased and toyed with during new discoveries (and sometimes the palate quashed by something you’d rather not try again.) Shared thoughts and shared experiences.

All this has awakened in me a true feeling of joy and excitement for the journey unknown… As well as friendship and a feeling of acceptance from my peers.

Sarah

If Someone Had Told Me….

back in January 2016 year that I’d be off on my travels sampling whiskies and blogging I’d have laughed.

But here I am and yes I’m doing that.

Someone asked the question of what were memorable drams of 2016 and it made me think, because there have been a few I have sampled, more to come (oh hell yeah) and some I just wish I could get my eager lips and hands on…. And what else has been happening?

New Year 2016 and I was seeing it in with a small bottle of Moët, and then me and the Bruichladdich Organic Scottish Barley sat and had a little think about things.

During the year I have had the absolute pleasure of visiting some truly wonderful distilleries – Glenfarclas being top of the list, a warm welcome and some great humour, free sweeties and a kind handshake.

This was / is closely followed by Glen Moray, that was really interesting and informative, again with down to earth people ((and a couple of additional samples purely by accident – a good oops!) and the rather happy older lady on the tour, we even shared a taxi afterwards)) and yes I will go back there too. This is what makes it all the more special I feel, that when you are on a tour that you feel like you are wanted there. Whether the distillery is in production or not!

Benromach was very interesting, being there while the malt was being delivered and seeing some casks being filled. Then Glen Garioch, Glenfiddich, The Edradour, Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar, The Glenlivet and last and by no means least the Lakes Distillery.

Then the two Whisky Lounge festivals I have been to, namely York and Birmingham. It was all a bit “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” to get there, but I got there and learnt that you can attend such events and a) not get absolutely ratted b) sample some absolutely wonderful whiskies c) meet some lovely people, d) don’t panic if the train home is delayed – full fare refunds equal funds for future events 😉 – Brum was the most daunting as I had never been there before (big city) apart from passing through it once on a coach. But I survived on some new discoveries, hearty conversation, oddly enough a couple of hugs and forehead kisses and a lovely discount on a whisky tumbler silver cup… (a kind offer from the maker.) York was the more memorable though as it was my first time (the featured image is the view over the race course from the Ebor stand at the end of the day.)

Then some tastings with the lovely Dram Team – great banter, great company and a few absolute delights amongst the samples. I have also been lucky enough to have been chosen by the Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire to sample the Rebel Yell bourbons, and I hope for some more opportunities in the future.

So my memorable whiskies of 2016…

Murray McDavid – Mortlach 21 year old – this had me saying “oh hello…” yes it had me lost for words, taking me somewhere nice where I didn’t want to come back from. It was so beautifully rich and inviting.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Tobermory 21 year old (cask strength) – “someone cupping your cheeks while giving you a gentle kiss”. Cocoa butter and milky bar followed by warm spices and chocolate on the palate, warming and oaky.

Benrinnes 23 year old sherry cask – a beautifully heavily sherried SMW, so full of flavour and warmth. Another delight!

Glen Moray 1994 – Sat in a cottage in the Lakes on a cold October evening in front of a fire I had this sample…a beautifully rich and delightful dram. The succulent sherry on the nose, a hint of tobacco and invitingly decadent. And then that palate which you simply have to savour…whilst smiling.

All in all a wonderful mixture of memories, and thanks to all of you that were a part of this year.

SS

Birmingham Whisky Festival

Saturday 12th November saw me taking an early morning flight to Birmingham for the Whisky Lounge’s first whisky festival there. 

I was hoping to see some of the distilleries there that hadn’t attended in York, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

As I had travelled so early in order to be there on time, I found myself with a couple of hours to spare so holed up in Starbucks with a vat of coffee and a sausage bun. 

The Council House was the venue for the show. What a magnificent building, from intricate architecture to wonderful heavy wooden doors that were opened to a waiting me…first up the stairs and eagerly anticipating what I would find. 

Not long after I arrived I met the friendly face of Dave Worthington. Although I was to spend my day with likeminded people, it is nice to see those you know. It can be a tad daunting turning up to such events alone. 

Soon after I arrived, people started to arrive steadily. At one point both sides of the staircase were full of people queuing eager to get in. 

So twelve o’clock was upon us, and yes I was first through the door, Glencairn, pipette and guide in hand I bought some tokens and another lanyard (the chap next to me suggested the price should be free). Lol. 

What was the first dram to be?

Well I headed in and found Murray McDavid, where to my dismay I realised they hadn’t got the whisky that rendered me speechless (probably a good thing) but instead I had a rather delicious 36 year old Bunnahabhain which was distilled in 1978 – what a delightful dram, a warm rich colour and a wonderful woody nose, and a lovely finish of rich fruits and dark chocolate.

I have to add here that my place to go and enjoy my samples was tucked in behind a huge marble column, just enough to savour the delights held in my hand. This was also a place where I enjoyed conversations about the festival too, learning why people had gone, their favourite drams, and perhaps what they were interested in exploring too. One chap liked Penderyn but hadn’t realised they were there so I pointed out where he should go, politely of course.

I spent the rest of the day visiting various stands, I particularly enjoyed the Weymss and also the Aberlour a’Bunadh and the 16.

I bought a gorgeous single dram silver cup from whisky tumblers.com which will be christened one day soon.

I was delighted to get a black token Jura 21 for nothing more than a smile… To have had conversations and the odd hug from random people, which made me feel good. The whisky community is a friendly bunch and no matter where you are you’ll always find someone to talk to. Hell it might even be me….