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 

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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

 

 

Gin. To love or not to love?

Well that’s certainly a question that I’ve been considering of late. Do I like gin? Or possibly it should be, do I like the new breed of gin? Maybe?

I imagine if someone had asked you a few years back if you fancied one, then it probably would have been Gordon’s Gin.

However, these days I’ve seen my local shop going from perhaps stocking half a dozen varieties to now having a “wall of gin”. And I have to say it’s big! I’ve tried a few varieties at festivals – but perhaps not alongside whiskies (induced squiffiness) but I have tried them. I like the fresh lighter ones that’s for sure, nothing too heavily flavoured. Edinburgh Gin have a delicious elderflower one. I’ve tried El:gin who do a gin with berries – the “Moray Berry”, bright and cheery and I dare say over ice would be a good summers drink. I’ve also sampled Darnley’s Gin, the Original and the Spiced were good. Not overly scented or flavoured. Last weekend I tried Eden Mill Oak Gin, and I do like the taste of oak / wood so that’s a plus!

What I think this shows is that there is obviously a call for these new spirits, and as new distillleries have started to produce them while their first whisky comes of age then I think it’s time to see what else appears. At the end of the day it’s for us to remain “old school” and stick to what we know best or perhaps to have a tentative sip of something new… not being an avid gin drinker if I see something that takes my fancy I’ll have a sip. I’m sure there’s a little something for all palates. Especially if you fancy a bit of gin fudge…