The Palace Hotel in Manchester was the host of the biggest whisky festival outside of London, so big in fact that there had to be two sessions and two floors. The Whisky Lounge were the proud organisers for the 4th year in a row and had on offer the crème de la crème of the whisky world from both Scotland and Ireland, and even threw in Japan, England and America for good measure. Part of the Manchester Food & Drink Festival, there would be a host of seminars and masterclasses on offer including The Magnificent Seven, hosted by Colin Dunn of Diageo, which took you through an in-depth look into their varied portfolio. Joe Clark of The Whisky Lounge also offered his advice for novices of whisky festivals and helped pave the way of how to get the most out of the drams on offer. To cap the morning session off, Ryan Williams of Buffalo Trace was to be on hand to guide enthusiasts through the award-winning distillery and their delights. This year I myself didn’t participate in any of the workshops on offer, but took full advantage of scanning the list for new additions, rare offerings and old favourites – including a rum from the guys at Berry Bros and Rudd.
Below, in order I sampled, I give to you my tasting notes on the mornings offerings –
Auchentoshan Valinch – 57.5%
The Classic at cask strength. Floral and very clean on the nose with a sweet maltness and a creamy flavour on the palate. Lingering finish. Smoother with drops of water with a slight power kick at the end.
Suntory Yamazaki 12yr – 43%
Light on the nose with aromas of honey, vanilla and peach. Becomes a little sweeter on the palate with spice lingering and a long finish.
Bowmore Tempest Batch No. 3 –55.6%
Very dry on the nose with a balanced mix of peat and smoke. Still rather dry once it hits the palate, but develops flavours of lemon and salt with a peppery finish.
Hazelburn 12yr – 46%
Bold with lots of dry fruits on the nose with hints of sherry lingering near the end. Rather spicy on the palate with a rich oak flavour and hints of chocolate on the long finish.
Old Pulteney 12yr – 40%
Rather dry on the nose with aromas of fruit and vanilla slowly making an appearance. Again quite dry on the palate, with hints of salt and smoke initially and becomes rather bitter at the end.
Elmer T. Lee – 45%
On the nose, a very light offering of vanilla and butterscotch creates a smooth, soft and slightly sweet aroma. A sweeter taste of honey and vanilla with some intense fruits on the palate creates a rather creamier bourbon to almost class it as a dessert wine.
Hancock’s President Reserve – 44.45%
Instant sweetness on the nose with aromas of exotic fruits that carries onto the palate. A round offering of fruit, spice and honey combine well to create a long finish.
Lots of oak and dry spices on the nose with a good balance of toffee, chocolate, vanilla and toffee on the palate. Incredibly long.
English Whisky Company Chapter 6 Un-peated – 46%
Sweet but soft on the nose with aromas of vanilla. Very sweet as it hits the palate with lots of malt and spice bursting well. Mellows as it nears the end with a slight dryness.
Singleton 12yr – 40%
Very rich fruit and nut aromas blend well when it hits the nose, with an initial sweetness onto the palate. Rather smooth afterwards however with a slight coffee flavour.
Dalwhinnie 15yr – 43%
Deep soft honey nose countered by a sharp citrus end on the nose. Quite sweet on the palate but does soften with vanilla.
Aberlour 16yr – 43%
Dry but rich on the nose with spice and raisins dominating. Quite sweet on the palate with a soft plum and long oak finish.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 41 – 59%
Lots of spice and rich orange combine well on the nose and continue on to the palate with ginger and chocolate flavours coming through. A bitter oak and sherry end.
Scapa 16yr – 40%
On the nose there’s lots of sweet honey aromas which move onto the palate and combine with ginger to create a rich and long-lasting finish.
Berry’s XO Caribbean Rum – 46%
Banana, caramel and liquorice dominate the nose with a potent richness. Green fruits offer an intense sweetness on the palate but becomes rather dry at the end.
Compass Box Flaming Heart – 48.9%
A bold nose of smoke and peat but mellows quickly. A good combination of citrus and vanilla on the palate with a dry spice and smoke ending.
Compass Box The Entertainer –
Light on the nose with peat aromas noticeable and a whisp of soft corn. Rather sharp on the palate however with a slight kick of spice with makes your mouth water every time.
Glenmorangie Original – 40%
Instant citrus on the nose but is soon followed by vanilla. Vanilla is also present on the palate before bursting with fruit near the end, noticeable orange.
Greenore 8yr – 40%
The nose enjoys delicate citrus notes with a slight mix of corn. As it hits the tongue, it gives a short, sharp hit but mellows quickly into a more distinctive citrus taste with a hint of barley coming through.
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask – 43%
Lots of vanilla notes on the nose, with rich toffee and fruit combining well on the palate. Hints of dried spice and tropical fruit help to round the long finish off.
W. L. Weller 12yr – 45%
Soft on the nose with hints of vanilla. A very soft, creamy flavour of wheat on the palate gives this a long, grainy finish that has hints of sweetness.
Arran 10yr – 46%
Instant vanilla to begin with, but tropical fruits follow. A spice start with citrus and oak counterbalancing nicely. Long and mellow ending.
Arran Gold Cream Liqueur – 17%
Soft toffee notes on the nose mix with a slight aroma of fruit. Lots of vanilla on the palate creates a sweet offering, with chocolate dominating near the end.
Glenfiddich Rich Oak – 40%
Soft fruit notes on the nose with slight oak whispers. Rather soft and short on the palate, but a fruity offering with rich vanilla thrown in.
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19yo Madeira Cask Finish – 40%
Deep orange notes on the nose with some hints of grape slowly released. Spice immediately hits the palate, but mellows to a smooth offering of caramel and ginger.
Glenfiddich 21yr – 40%
Strong and intense banana and toffee aroma with hints of leather and a rich sweet follow-through on the nose. Smooth with a slight smokiness and ginger and lime extracts on the palate with a long warm after-taste with subtle spice hints.
Glenfiddich 15yr Non-chill Filtered – 51%
Ripe, fresh fruit on the nose with an aroma of pepper at the end. Rather dry on the palate with spice, rich fruit flavours creating a long finish.
As you can see, a rather diverse collection was available, as well as varieties that are already gracing the site including Ardbeg, Connemara and anCnoc. With a total of four hours per session, there’s more than enough to keep you busy, and the guys and girls behind the brands are more than willing to tell you everything you need to know.
I know for a fact I’ll be attending next years festival as it’s the perfect chance to try some whiskies that you may never be able to afford in a bar or restaurant, plus a great opportunity to sample some you may never thought you would like.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.