7 whiskies from around the world - blind tasting, all presented in Plymouth Gin bottles!. I'm not the only photographer there - and someone with a bigger beard than me too. Still what does size matter?
Co-hosted by Holly from Gerry's and Rowena from Yelp. Limited information about how the whisky was produced and the type of maturation were all the clues that were given, and I was only able to definitively identify one whisky as one I knew I'd had before - the very distinctive Wasamund's Single Malt from the US, which uses applewood to smoke the barley and also applewood chips in the cask.
Not sure I could drink it all evening, but a very pleasant dram - my favourite of the day, and I think it also topped the popular vote, though the Swedish contribution - the new Bruks from Mackmyra - also did well.
Seven whiskies from around the world to taste for a tenner – can’t be bad. Hosted jointly by Holly from Gerry's and Rowena from Yelp.
On arrival it appears we have seven bottles of differently coloured Plymouth Gin – this is to disguise the identity of the whiskies and let us judge them entirely on the contents of the glass. All we are told upfront is that they are from seven different countries, one is from Scotland – a Scottish flag is supplied to wave when you think you have the Scottish whisky – all are malt whiskies.A little further information was given around the method of distillation of each whisky, and what it had been matured in, but not the country of origin. The first whisky is revealed to be a blended malt, nothing too special about it. The second one is altogether different, and my initial thought is Swedish though further sipping makes me doubt that, and after briefly thinking it might be Welsh, I’m left without an idea of where it’s from.
Two reviews for this event - for reasons I can't be bothered to go into - take your pick...
SMWS at London Whisky Fest
SMWS Grain week - but I've tickets for both sessions of Eddie Ludlow's visit to London. So had to celebrate the SMWS grain explosion on Friday night - 10 new grains making a total of 16 available on the bar in Greville Street. Starting off with 2 new Strathclydes 10.2 and 10.4, but neither impressed me as much as 10.1. pick of the bunch G9.1, the Loch Lomond 11yo that I'd previously encountered in Leith last June - and managed to get a bottle. Only one case made its way to London, and only one bottle was available for sale - which Phil Storry had managed to get hold of already - amongst his 15 purchases that day! In all I managed to get through 9 of the 16, but they couldn't find a bottle of G7.5 before I had to get the train home.
Early breakfast – have to be in Aberlour for 9.30 to get the bus to Knockando for a Manager’s Choice tasting. Head up the hill again – I think it is quicker than the Speyside Way, particularly in this direction. As it’s Aberlour, go for the Bluehill Quarry turn off, and then decide to be innovative – looks like there’s a way through upper Aberlour from the Caravan Park turn off.
There is though it takes me uphill again, and I think it links to the public path from Dufftown. I have plenty of time – had thought of cycling all the way, but I said I’d be on the bus. Eventually find the right bus – there are only three others who get on, one looks like Ronnie Routledge from Glenglassaugh, and indeed is – he says he’s got a day off so he’s seeing things from a different angle!
We wait in case anyone else turns up, but the driver eventually concludes that they must be making their own way there. The driver is a local, but with a very strong accent – really hard work to understand. We head out through Craigellachie and past Macallan, by which time I’ve been checking which tastings I have tickets for this afternoon, and I discover I haven’t a ticket for the Diageo tasting, and find a spot with a signal to book it.
We get to Knockando, and I have a Google Streets moment – I recognise the distillery but am not sure whether I’ve been there before or just virtually courtesy of Google Streets photography – it’s very disconcerting.
We’re greeted with coffee and biscuits, but I need a cold drink – fortunately they have orange juice – must have been something I drunk the night before. We set off around the distillery – photography allowed except flash use in the still house. Knockando has an ancient malt screen and weigher. The mash tun also turns out to be in the still house – fortunately it’s very bright so no flash required. May of the rest on the tour are Canadians who are very impressed to see the Maple Leaf flag flying at the distillery – unlike some previous days explanations of distillery operations outside are perfectly acceptable in today’s weather.
I didn't let this rainy Friday get me down - not that it started well. Looking out the door of the hotel at 8am it didn't appear promising - Ben Aigan barley visible through the rain and mist. By 9am, it was a little better, Ben Aigan was in sight, and the rain had just about stopped. So I decided not to become Whisky Bus Passenger for the day and head for Elgin by bike.
In case it started raining again, I'd decided to go via the Speyside Way (tree cover) and the Telford Bridge. It didn't rain and the Speyside Way was fine as far as Craigellachie - shoulda hit the road then, instead I got very muddy - clearly drainage not good on this bit.
Made good time through Rothes to Speyburn - I'd never gone this way before, I guess I'd assumed it was just a road to the distillery. I now think it must have been the original road, but a search for old maps still shows what is now the A941 as the main road in 1856, so either I've got that wrong or not been able to go back far enough.
Whatever, it's a nicer road to ride than the A941 - as far as it goes, which is not all that far along Rothes Glen. Even allowing for a stop for some pics of Speyburn, I'd underestimated the length of the section to Coleburn and it was soon clear that I wouldn't make it to Elgin in 90 minutes - good job I'd allowed 2 hours. Cresting the hill past Coleburn it's clear that the Moray Firth is sunny - and a lighthouse gleams in the distance. A quick look at the map shows thay my initial thought of Chanonry Point is entirely the wrong direction, but surely Tarbat Ness (near Portmahomack) is too far? The sun actually shines on me, briefly, near BenRiach, but I'm soon in not so sunny Elgin and heading for the first tasting of the day and Gordon and MacPhail.