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 fun were paying penance at the Fentimans stand (it’s NOT coke it’s COLA) and a few other things (flying cork) that made me and others smile.

There was 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… Sorren went the extra mile and shared whisky from his personal collection, not any old whisky though. This was Paul John Oloroso and 1906 casks…a real ambassador for Paul John!! A delicious treat indeed. 

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, you were all on form and as epic as ever….

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. Meeting Edwin Milner and his friend too.

Then of course 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 

Advertisements

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

 

 

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

Manchester Whisky Festival 

So sometimes I do things of a slightly spontaneous nature. And this was one of them. And why the heck not?!

Friday morning had me up at silly o’clock and off to the airport for a relatively quick flight down to Manchester for The Whisky Lounge festival. Beautiful blue skies had driven away the fog that had threatened to delay the landing. It was to be a fresh look at this city.

I made my way to my hotel and was lucky to find my room was already available so I checked and unashamedly went for a sleep. After a bath and freshening up I decided it was time to explore. I spotted Paul (whiskyweegie) up a side street (pure chance) and approached him as he was in his boot (we’ll sort of) “don’t jump, I’m just saying hello!”.  A nice chat and a catch up before I continued my walk, the goal being The Whiskey Jar on Tariff Street for one of their G&Ts and the glass laced with Laphroaig 10. Sat across from a spot… (that’s for another time (okay that’s in “Inside the Bottle: The Contents”))

Anyway. I made it for a couple of G&Ts then back to my hotel and get ready for the festival, pick up my fudge and get sampling.

It was nice to see Gina on the front desk and a quick hello to Amanda.

So wristband on and up the stairs to collect my glass, pipette and tokens. Missed my chance at first through the door. There were some eager whisky fans that evening…

Had a lovely time tasting some delicious drams from Talisker, Highland Park, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Spey Whisky, Paul John, The Quiet Man. I’m sure there’s more… Tried some El Dorado Rum and spoke to lots of people about fudge.

One chap asked me how I put the whisky it in so I motioned a pouring action (ha ha.) Also had a lovely long chat with an older chap called Brian who definitely wanted to see my fudge elsewhere…really nice to know.

It was nice seeing the lovely and ever so funny Colin (Dunn) especially chatting over the Talisker 57 degrees North. Memorable.

Lots of giggles and a lovely hug from Kat (whisky discovery) too.

Then it was the last pour and time to go back to my hotel…

Or so I thought.

I’d nipped to Tesco for a drink and snacks and on the way back I heard “fudge lady!” This was Jen who I’d met earlier… I was then told I couldn’t possibly go back to my hotel as the night was still young. So I joined them in the Vine. Crappy whisky. Flat coke. They didn’t know how to make whisky sours, but we all had a good laugh.

I then decided it best to leave and went back and crashed out. A busy day ahead…

Saturday was late check out and back to the Town Hall for the early session. Equal first through the door! (Yeah I’ve still got it – ha ha.) Popped my case and bag down and got sampling… I started the day with Talisker Port Ruighe – lovely and interesting dram. Moving on I tried the Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso matured Batch OL0816 and yum yum.. met a tweeter on route too. Mr WGS19. And Greg of Great Drams and thus completing the full set of The Dram Team…surely that deserves a prize?!!

I had to watch how much I was having as I was flying later. I managed to sneak in an Aberlour A’bunadh batch 58…can’t beat an A’bunadh in my books. Then all too soon it was time to think about leaving (boo! hate saying goodbye- think I need to start saying “see you later!”)

Final dram? Yes it had to be a Paul John and a quick catch up with Craig & Sorren and a deliciously good dram (see my tasting notes on cask #1444.)

So all too soon it was “see you later” a hug or two and leaving some fudge with friends I had to head back to Manchester airport. I asked the Town Hall security for the quickest route back to Piccadilly Station at which he took my case from me, laughingly said “you and me, we’re finished”… led me down the steps and along to Tesco. Pointed out that I should follow the route or the trams and wished me a good day 🙂

Got to the airport with an hour to spare. I was bound for Inverness!

Thanks to everyone I met and chatted to in Manchester (apologies if I forgot to mention you.) Fun and giggles as per usual.

Sarah

Paul John Whisky – Cask #1444

Last Saturday I was down in the rather beautiful Manchester Town Hall for The Whisky Lounge festival.

As it was getting very close to my time to rush off to the airport (boo!!) and so my final dram, I thought it would be nice to finish with the Classic. So I headed to the Paul John table to ask for sample (my bottle at home is still closed.) As it happened I was given a rather lovely dram from Craig instead.

This was the Paul John Cask #1444 this is a single cask – 59.7%

So I headed to one of the link bridges. Quiet and away from the crowds (it was a busy session) I could enjoy what was in my glass.

The nose offered lots of malty scents and barley. Hints of vanilla and ripe fruit. It was a fragrant sweet nose mingling with malted biscuits. Delicious honey sweetness  (in a place surrounded by images of worker bees seemed fitting.) Those lovely spices were really drawing me in, with a subtle herb influence too. After a while I got the most delicate hint of parma violets (wasn’t going to say that – but I did.)

A lot of spice initially greets your tastebuds. Oak and malt again. The woody hints are pleasant on the palate. Fruity sweetness and that soft herbaliness.. Malted biscuits. Full and smooth delicious mouthfeel coats the mouth.

The spice remains on the palate. It’s just toying with your tastebuds. A long finish with that delicious oakiness resting nicely with the remaining delicate spices.

Then it was time for an all too brief “see you later”…

As I was leaving I left some of my fudge with Sorren & Craig at the Paul John table, grabbed my bags and I was gone…

Thanks for the opportunity of trying this Craig.

Slàinte

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