The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester was the host of the biggest whisky festival outside of London, so big in fact that there had to be two floors filled with some cracking brands. The Whisky Lounge were the proud organisers for the 5th year in a row and had on offer the crème de la crème of the whisky world from both Scotland and Ireland, and even a few in Japan, India, 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 names such as Colin Dunn of Diageo and The Whisky Lounge founder Eddie Ludlow. 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.
So, below, in order I sampled, I give to you my tasting notes on the days offerings –
Talisker Storm – 45.8%
Spice on the nose with hints of smoke and honey. A rich beginning on the palate, with a spicy kick following and sea smoke hitting the finish. Long.
Talisker Port Ruighe – 45.8%
Smoky notes on the nose with a ripe fruit following. A peppery beginning on the palate, but develops a peat flavour that mixes smoke and dark fruits. A lingering finish.
Berry Bros. & Rudd Blue Hanger Blended Malt, 6th Release – 45.6%
Rich orange and vanilla on the nose alongside waves of peat aromas. Fruits are present on the palate, with the well-rounded finish of sweet orange and smoky flavours.
Aberlour – Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) – 52.1%
Sultana, apple and chocolate notes on the nose, with lots of spice, treacle and dark chocolate blending well on the palate. Creates a very long finish.
Elements of Islay BR 4 – 54.7%
From Bruichladdich. Lots of sweet fruit notes on the nose, with the fruits moving straight onto the palate. Blended with a honeyed sweetness and a pepper finish.
William Grant’s Ale Cask Reserve – 40%
Smooth herbal nose with a little sweetness lingering. Edinburgh ale aromas on the palate, with the oak coming through more as it develops. Slight fudge and barley near the honey finish.
William Grant’s Sherry Cask Reserve – 40%
Light and fruity on the nose, with a mix of honey and nuts present too. A well-balanced palate with dried fruits, spice, nuts and oak dancing nicely to a long finish.
Tullamore Dew – 40%
Lots of fruit and oats on the nose, with hints of sweet caramel coming through too. Hints of spice, sherry on the palate leads to a long caramel finish.
Tweeddale Batch 3 12yr – 46%
A great blend of apples and vanilla on the nose, with a sniff of raisin near the finish. The aromas follow onto the palate, with an added hint of ginger. A little kick of spice to finish.
Tweeddale Batch 4 14yr –
A light nose of dry lavender and herbs, with a palate that enjoys soft caramel blended with waves of spiced peat. Hints of salt and smoke come through as it finishes.
‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Oloroso Finish – 47.4%
A nose of fresh plums and raisins dominate, whilst sweet flavours of marzipan and spicy fruits blend well for a lingering finish.
‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Pedro Ximinez Finish – 45.4%
Lots of sweet fruits with dark berries on the nose, with a vanilla and fruit blend on the palate that creates a long finish.
The Salty Sea Dog – 46%
Fresh on the nose with plenty of sea salt and peaty smoke that carries onto the palate. Draws out a long, tangy yet defining finish with lingering peat and crunchy salt.
Springbank 10yr – 46%
Lots of oak and earth notes on the nose, with a more cereal base on the palate. Peat, nuts and smoke create a long, crisp finish.
Hazelburn 12yr – 46%
Very aromatic on the nose with dry fruits, sherry and toffee coming through. A little spicy on the palate, with cocoa, coffee and a hint of peat nearing the finish. A long finish.
English Whisky Chapter 13 – 49%
Hints of smoke on the nose, with a following of spice and dark chocolate. A creamy texture on the palate, with notes of vanilla and toffee blending with fruits to create a long, dry finish.
English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859) – 60.8%
Dark berry notes on the nose with a slight kick of cinnamon lingering on the finish. Black pepper flavours on the palate, moving to a creamy texture of fudge and vanilla. The spice returns for a long, dry finish.
Longmorn 12 Year Old (Gordon & MacPhail) – 40%
Lots of fruit on the nose with some oak aromas following. Plenty of citrus and orange flavours dominate the palate, creating a long, juicy finish that lasts for a while.
Atholl Brose – 35%
Light and fresh on the nose with a mix of ginger and citrus that doesn’t dominate and overpower too much. A light ginger flavour to begin, it develops nicely with an instant warming. Sweet ginger near the end as the soft velvet texture coats your mouth.
Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25yr – 42%
Light aroma on the nose of caramelised fruits, with good doses of toffee, honey and rich vanilla on the palate as they blend well to create a lingering dram.
Hakushu 12yr – 43.5%
Fresh nose of green fruit with a whisp of smoke lingering. Sweetness on the palate, with pear dominating and the soft smoke creating a dry texture.
Hibiki 12yr – 43%
Lots of pineapple and plum aromas blending nicely on the nose and following through onto the palate to create a soft and sweet flavour. A little spice on the end.
Auchentoshan 18yr – 43%
Bold notes of vanilla and spice on the nose with hints of sweet ginger following. Roasted nuts and vanilla flavours are present on the palate, creating a long, not-wanting-to-end finish.
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.
Rock Town Brandon’s Small Batch Gin – 46%
Very fresh with lots of citrus on the nose. Plenty of juniper, with subtle spice wandering around. A little dry on the palate, with coriander noticeable, and angelica following. A kick of spice to finish a long offering.
Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon – 46%
Aromas of fresh corn on the nose, with some dried fruits and spices present on the palate. A little hint of oak on the long, long finish.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask – 48%
Butter, toffee and raisin are present on the nose, surrounded by scented oil. A sweet start on the palate, but a huge kick of heat with iodine and fruit coming into play. A shorter finish than what you expect.
Laphroaig 18yr – 48%
Toffee nose with hints of cereal and spice leads to a warm yet rounded flavour of smoke and liquorice on the palate. A long, rich toffee finish.
Cardhu 12yr – 40%
Sweet, rich aromas of white fruit on the nose. Well-rounded on the palate, with a good dose of smooth peat and whispers of smoke on this long dram.
Some fantastic whiskies on offer yet again at the Manchester leg of the show. There’s some on the list above that I probably will never get round to trying again so to attend a show like this can really throw towards you some real gems. Highlights for me include Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon, Auchentoshan 18yr, Hakushu 12yr and English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859).
If you like whisky, then you will love attending these festivals. If you’re not a lover, you can be pointed into the direction of some of the more introductory whiskies on offer in the world. This is the best thing about this category – love it or hate it, there will always be something to convert or possibly soften your initial thought.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.