This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Whisky Show in London, and it was an event to remember. Hundreds upon hundreds of great whiskies, dozens of exhibitors, many great dream drams all celebrated in good company with thousands of whisky anoraks.
The Dream Drams
The Whisky Show provided me an opportunity to try some quite amazing drams that have been on my dream list for a long time, including the recently launched Talisker 40 Year, and the Taiwanese Exclusive, Balvenie Tun 1858. The highlight of the weekend for me was the Highland Park 40 Year, which I went back for two days in a row until it was empty. At 3 tokens (£30 / US$40) it was a bargain. The nose was classic Highland Park, dusty, Orkney peat, feinty and then the palate explodes with old leather books, more Orkney peat smoke, and slight waxiness.
The Balvenie brought two batches of the Tun 1858 which is exclusive to Taiwan. I was excited to try both of these batches and compare them with my good friend and Balvenie Global Brand Ambassador, Gemma Paterson, prior to my trip to Taiwan in November. Batch #3 is predominantly american-oak, with a few sherry casks. Batch #5 was the inverse, predominantly sherry casks with a few American oak casks. Of the two, I preferred Batch #5 which comes as no surprise given the sherry-head I am. I’m hoping I can track down one of these Tun 1858’s on my trip.
As a huge fan of Talisker I was particularly excited the new 40 Year Bodega Series – the oldest publicly released Talisker. This dram packed a surprise punch for being 40 Years old. Given my recent review of the Talisker 35, I expected this dram to be a bit soft and light, and to my pleasant surprise it was quite the opposite. Packed with smoke, brine, peppers and some light citrus and spice the Talisker 40 will go on that “dream wish list”.
Another unexpected surprise was the opportunity to try my first Karuzawa; the 31 Year Geisha. I’ve found many Japanese drams to fall quite flat and one dimensional (excluding Hibiki 30), so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dram. Suffice to say, I was impressed and thrilled to have tried such a wonderful dram.
Launch of the Long Aged Longmorn’s
On the trade day my friend CJ (@SingleMaltVault) introduced me to his friends at Gordon & MacPhail where I had the privilege to try two incredible Longmorn’s from 1961. Distilled on the same day in 1961, and aged side-by-side until their 57th birthday these two bottles have been nicknamed “The Twins” as the oldest twin casks in the Gordon & Macphail range. Both sherry casks, the only difference separating the two is the oak, one American oak and one European oak. This allows the drinker to notice the particularly incredible difference the wood has on the final whisky.
Oak’s Influence of Character
The American oak has quite a bit of red berries on the nose and the palate. Quite unexpected, but a lot can happen over 57 years sitting in that cask. The brother, European Oak, was slightly higher ABV at 45% and a dram I found very intriguing. It was a dram that evolved as it opened up. It was a little more complex to the American oak. Notes of bitter dark chocolate, black licorice, star anise, stoned fruits, and quite tannic but not unpleasant. Only 100 bottles of each of these were produced, and you can secure yours for a mere £30,000.
Top 5 Drams
There were too many drams to go into in a single post, so I will leave you with my Top 5 from The Whisky Show 2018:
- Highland Park 40 Year
- The Balvenie Tun 1858 Batch #5
- Talisker 40 Year
- Kavalan Moscatel
- Tamdhu Dalbeallie
- Paul John Kanya
- Balvenie 25 DoubleWood
- The New Zealand Whisky Company 18 Year
- Glenfarclas 40 Year
- Talisker 8 Year
- Chicibu Imperial Stout
- Laphroaig 30
- The Whisky Show Exclusive – Ledaig 12 Year
- The Whisky Show Exclusive – Invergordon 44 Year
- Bowmore 27 Vitners Trilogy
Thank you to my many friends who made this weekend exceptional, as a wise whisky drinker once said,
“It’s not whisky until it’s shared.”