Unwrapped – The Other Side of Bartending

WGS_Unwrapped_Plain

William Grant & Sons’ UK Brand Ambassador team will be hosting the first ever Unwrapped: The Other Side of Bartending event in Edinburgh on 29th October. This event, exclusively for bartenders, features a series of talks aiming to support modern bartenders find their legacy within the industry and equip them with tools, knowledge and insights beyond jiggers and shakers. This will be followed by immersive brand experiences and an evening bar takeover where all proceeds will go to charity partner SANE.

Unwrapped’s focus is centered on Brand Ambassador-led talks, designed to be thought-provoking, engaging and specifically relevant to the on-trade; providing attendees with new skills and perspectives, as well as the opportunity to network with like-minded peers and old friends. Sessions will cover subjects ranging from how to keep up team morale and the power of storytelling, to exploring the link between nature and creativity. Following the talks, Alessandra Brugola from the drinks industry charity, The Benevolent, will introduce their latest campaign #notalone.

Unwrapped will be held at Assembly Roxy, and will include immersive brand experiences in the afternoon – from entering the miniscule yet momentous world of Hendrick’s Gin Tini Martinis to making and photographing Monkey Shoulder’s Lazy Old Fashioned.

On Monday evening, a full William Grant & Sons bar takeover at The Voyage of Buck will take place, where the entire UK Brand Ambassador team will get behind the bar to raise money for SANE. The charity partner was chosen by the Brand Ambassadors due to its focus on mental health – a key topic within the bar industry.

Cocktails on the night will include:

The Disaronno Cherry Apple – Disaronno, fermented cherry, 30/40 and soda. Created by Three Sheets, London.
The Balvenie Pina Colada Specs – The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, Coco Lopez, pineapple Juice, cream, milk and a dash of Angostura bitters.

Fabiano Latham, Reyka Vodka UK Brand Ambassador says: “Unwrapped is a great opportunity for all the brand ambassadors to share experiences and insights from the industry, as well as the passion we have for our brands. We want to create a benchmark for industry training programmes by delivering an engaging and interactive event where on-trade teams can come together and truly benefit in years to come.”

Lachlan Rooney, Manager at The Voodoo Rooms Bar says: “The William Grant & Sons team is coming to town with what looks to be one of the most incredible series of seminars to grace the city since Tales on Tour. Bartenders best bring a notepad and pen for the series of talks and activities that could truly make a tangible difference to a career and the local bar community. From practical engagements to empathetic advice on building yourself as a brand, the event covers every aspect of bartending that you’ve never even thought about. With free food, drinks and transport alongside priceless career advice it’s not one to miss out on.”

Unwrapped agenda: Monday 29th October

UK Brand Ambassador Talks 11:00-15:30

Mark Thomson, Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador to Scotland presents: The power of storytelling
Fabiano Latham, Reyka UK Brand Ambassador presents: Adventurivity – exploring the link between nature and creativity
EmmaLi Stenhouse, Sailor Jerry UK Brand Ambassador presents: How to be your world’s best bartender
Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie UK Brand Ambassador presents: How to train your nose
John Wayte, Monkey Shoulder UK Brand Ambassador presents: /bar:ography/
Sasha Filimonov, Hendrick’s Gin UK Brand Ambassador presents: How to be newsworthy
Calum Fraser, Premium Spirits Specialist presents: Keeping good spirits in good spirits
Rod Elsamieh, Disaronno UK Brand Ambassador presents: From bartender to bar owner – the tips and tricks to opening your own bar
Stephanie Rainbow, Tia Maria UK Brand Ambassador presents: The courage to be happy
Alessandra Brugola from The Benevolent will introduce their new campaign #notalone

Brand Experiences 15:30-16:30

To attend, please email wgsuk.events@wgrant.com or speak to one of the BA team

Takeover at The Voyage of Buck, 19:00 till 11pm

WG&S Takeover with the UK Brand Ambassadors behind the bar with all proceeds taken over the course of the evening being donated to charity partner, SANE. The party is open to everyone, 18 years old and over.

Advertisements

Michel Roux Jr And The Balvenie Whisky Launch Final Series Of The Craftsmen’s Dinner

the balvenie

The Balvenie launches its final installment of The Craftsmen’s Dinner. This year, the series of short films, hosted by renowned Michelin starred chef, Michel Roux Jr., takes place at The Balvenie Distillery in Scotland, where Michel gets sparks of inspiration from the craftspeople behind the whisky.

Spending a week at the distillery, Michel aims to understand the elements of craft which go into The Balvenie, and meets three expert craftspeople who shape the whisky as we know it. Firstly, John Evans, Maltman, whose team is in charge of taking care of the barley, turning it by hand and operating a working floor maltings, one of only a handful left in Scotland. Secondly, George Singer, a coppersmith who maintains the copper stills where the essential process of distillation happens. Finally, Kelsey McKechnie, Whisky Technologist, who monitors the maturation, flavour and blend of the whisky until it’s ready to be bottled.

Throughout his experience, Michel is inspired by the pursuit of excellence by each craftsperson and realises the similarity with his own ethos in the kitchen. Michel doesn’t believe in “cooking by numbers”, he uses his senses, skills and experience to perfect the taste in his dishes, the same way the craftspeople use their classic techniques to create The Balvenie. From tending to the barley, to blending and maturing the whisky, the series highlights that each stage in the process is integral to the taste. Michel’s key take out is that true craft needs a human touch.

Michel Roux Jr. commented: “I have been involved with The Balvenie whisky over the past few years as I want to seek out craftsmanship in new places and bring people’s attention to it. As craftspeople we feed off each other’s passions and by immersing myself in George, Kelsey and John’s crafts I have truly been inspired. We live in an increasingly fast paced world, technology is thriving and amazing innovations result from this, but craft is one thing I believe will never be replaced by machines. A human touch and staying true to your roots is important and once you understand the level of commitment that goes into making The Balvenie, you will begin to understand what makes it so great.”

The series concludes with the three-course ‘Craftsmen’s Dinner’ hosted at The Balvenie House and curated by Michel Roux Jr., with the menu inspired by The Balvenie craftspeople. The delicious dishes show the magic of bringing different crafts together and includes fermented barley miso, roasted venison smoked with woodchips from the casks in the cooperage and passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate ice cream, served in beautiful copper pots lovingly handcrafted by George Singer.

Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie UK Brand Ambassador, added: “It’s been a pleasure working with a true craftsman like Michel these past few years. His dedication to cuisine mirrors our dedication to perfection in whisky making. This final series, set at our spiritual home during the beauty of winter, really brings to life the commitment, hard work and dedication of our skilled craftspeople who make The Balvenie the best it can be all the year round. It has been a pleasure to share the different crafts behind the whisky with Michel and now with viewers worldwide.”

The final series of The Craftsmen’s Dinner will be released week commencing 2nd July at https://www.youtube.com/TheCraftsmensDinner and will feature the following episodes:

· Michel Roux Jr. meets John Evans, Maltman at The Balvenie

· Michel Roux Jr. meets George Singer, Coppersmith at The Balvenie

· Michel Roux Jr. meets Kelsey McKechnie, Whisky Technologist at The Balvenie

· The Craftsmen’s Dinner at The Balvenie House

#TheBalvenieCraft

Website: https://uk.thebalvenie.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBalvenie

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BalvenieUK

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebalvenie/

New Peated Single Malt Showcases The Balvenie In Entirely Different Way

The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years
The Balvenie, the most handcrafted single malt Scotch whisky, reimagines a classic Speyside style whisky with the release of an exceptional peated expression – The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years (2002 Vintage), available initially in a select number of markets.

The Balvenie Peat Week is the product of trials undertaken by The Balvenie’s Malt Master David Stewart MBE and Ian Millar, former distillery manager and current Prestige Whiskies Specialist at William Grant & Sons.

At a time when very few Speyside distilleries were using peat in production, The Balvenie distilled a batch of heavily peated malt, which was laid down to mature at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland under the watchful eye of the industry’s longest-serving Malt Master. Since this pioneering moment, the distillery has dedicated one week each year, named Peat Week, to using only peated barley in its production, in order to craft a different style of The Balvenie liquid with enhanced smoky notes.

The result of the initial experiment is a classic honeyed whisky enriched with a delicate, sweet and lingering peat smoke that unlocks flavours unexpected from a Speyside distillery and showcases The Balvenie’s truly innovative and forward-thinking nature.

The Balvenie Peat Week (2002 Vintage), released in September 2017, is a single vintage bottling, limited and rare by nature. This non-chill filtered expression, bottled at 48.3% ABV, will launch exclusively to the USA, UK, Denmark and Sweden in September. The liquid was matured solely in American Oak casks, giving the final spirit a velvety and round taste with the peat smoke balancing oaky vanilla and honey.

Commenting on the release, David Stewart MBE says: “Being able to experiment with different elements of whisky making and stock management is one of the most exciting and important parts of my job. The new Peated Week bottling is a result of our continued efforts to innovate and trial flavours not typically associated with The Balvenie. The expression is testament to the freedom we enjoy as a family company, and shows The Balvenie in an unexpected way, yet still remaining true to the distillery style our drinkers enjoy.”

The new release pays special homage to a time when peated whiskies were commonly produced by distilleries across Speyside, including The Balvenie, who utilised locally sourced peat throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s to dry barley processed at the distillery’s traditional malt floor, which is still in use today.

Ian Millar, says: “When we first started the experiments it was an incredibly exciting time as very few Speyside distilleries were using peated malt in production. Along with cask type, there’s nothing quite like peat to change the flavour profile of a whisky, so it was great to have the chance to undertake these experiments and lay the foundations for future peated malts.”

Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie UK Brand Ambassador added: “For anyone who thinks that Scotch is a staid category, this new release from The Balvenie will make them reconsider. Behind the scenes at whisky distilleries like ours, experiments are always going on and almost 15 years ago, we started exploring what it would be like to peat the malt that goes into our gorgeous honeyed liquid for one week each year. The result is something wonderful and will give The Balvenie lovers a chance to see this delicious whisky in a different light.”

The release follows the June release of The Balvenie Peated Triple Cask Aged 14 Years, exclusive to travel retail. Both bottlings will be permanent additions to The Balvenie’s existing range.

The Balvenie Peat Week will retail for £60 RRP and is available from September.

Michel Roux Jr. And The Balvenie Reunite

image002

Following the success of last year’s series, The Balvenie has launched the second installment of The Craftsmen’s Dinner, which tells the stories of four exceptionally skilled craftspeople through a series of short films, demonstrating that true craft is not about what you make, or where you make it, but how you make it.

This year, the online series, hosted once again by renowned Michelin starred chef, Michel Roux Jr., showcases the dedication to British craftsmanship by a group of specialists, each using traditional techniques to create their artisan products in the most unexpected of places, from a rooftop overlooking The Shard to a council estate in Tottenham.

The series follows urban cheese makers, Wildes Cheese; the family-owned car producer Morgan Motor Company, who embrace new technology whilst preserving tradition; artisan bakery Wooster’s, who restored the old family mill; and Bermondsey Street Bees, who champion food sustainability from a central London rooftop. The stories that emerge highlight the common values between the different craftspeople, Michel Roux Jr. and The Balvenie; who all share an intimate understanding of their trade and a desire to leave a mark through their produce, taking no shortcuts.

The series concludes with the four-course ‘Craftsmen’s Dinner’ at the Langham curated by Michel Roux Jr. with dishes that showcase the exciting collaborations with each of the craftspeople. The delicious independent menu features spit-roast veal loin with sweet breads glazed in Bermondsey Street Bees’ honey, Wildes Cheese’s Roland cheese with Balvenie soaked prunes and Wooster’s sourdough ice cream.

Michel Roux Jr. commented: “It’s been a pleasure to continue this partnership with The Balvenie, setting out once again to discover and learn from an immensely talented group of craftspeople, all united by the passion and dedication for what they do. This year I have been particularly inspired by how these experts go to great lengths, in this modern world, to preserve traditional craft methods, often in unexpected ways and places.”

Asmita Singh, The Balvenie Senior Brand Manager, added: “We are delighted to bring back The Craftsmen’s Dinner after the success of the first series. The Balvenie’s distinctive character as a whisky is created by the experience, skill and ambition of our own craftspeople and it has been a pleasure to work with Michel again to shine a light on individuals who approach their craft in the same way.”

Series Two of The Craftsmen’s Dinner is now live on https://www.youtube.com/TheCraftsmensDinner and features the following episodes:

Michel Roux Jr. meets Morgan Motor Company
Michel Roux Jr. meets Wooster’s Bakery
Michel Roux Jr. meets Bermondsey Street Bees
Michel Roux Jr. meets Wildes Cheese
The Craftsmen’s Dinner at the Langham

William Grant & Sons UK Appoints Alwynne Gwilt As The Balvenie UK Ambassador

alwynne-headshot
Independent family distillers, William Grant & Sons UK has today confirmed that whisky specialist, Alwynne Gwilt will take on the role of UK ambassador for The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch whisky, as of January 2017.

Joining William Grant & Sons UK in January 2016 as Whisky Specialist for the Ancient Reserves portfolio, Alwynne’s new role as The Balvenie UK ambassador will see her focus on generating brand advocacy and bridging communication between the brand and whisky drinkers, bars & restaurants, retailers, distributors and press.

Jonathan Cornthwaite, Head of Whisky at William Grant & Sons UK said: “Alwynne has a deep passion for whisky and the way it is made, which is why she is the perfect person to take on the UK ambassador role for The Balvenie, the most handcrafted single malt. With her wealth of unique experience, Alwynne will play a crucial role as the face of one of William Grant & Sons UK’s core brands. Alwynne will lead from the front to develop key relationships and initiatives to further enhance The Balvenie’s excellent reputation with whisky novices, enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike, as well as with on-trade partners.”

Alwynne Gwilt said: “Many years ago, when I was just beginning my journey in whisky, The Balvenie distillery was one of the very first ones I visited. And because all of the processes are done on-site, it was the first time I really, truly ‘got’ whisky, the first time I understood its underlying heartbeat. I was utterly hooked! As such, I’m thrilled to be coming back to these early roots, to be able to speak about and share my love of this beautifully hand-crafted product with whisky lovers far and wide.”

Alwynne will take over from James Buntin who held the role since 2014.

William Grant & Sons UK’s Brand Ambassadors Host The Highland Festival 2016

Team Balvenie Bootcamp
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Highland Festival, William Grant & Sons UK hosted round two at Haggerston Park on Sunday 21st August. The UK’s top bartenders battled it out to win an immersive trip to Scotland hosted by Lesley Gracie, Master Distiller of Hendrick’s Gin, and UK Ambassador, Ally Martin.

This year saw nine teams compete for the title, with Team Reyka coming out on top, winning the crown and a once in a lifetime prize. “My team did me proud and consistently outclassed in the series of random challenges. They are a great group and I can’t wait to celebrate with them.” – Joe Petch, Reyka Vodka UK Ambassador. Team Reyka included Aidan Bowie from Dandelyan, Russell Burgess from Loves Company, Dan Bovey from B@ONE Bristol, Anna Sebastian from The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, Aaron Masonde from Oblix at The Shard, Alastair Fraser from Little Bat and Iain McPherson from Hoot the Redeemer and Panda and Sons.

The competitors were faced with new and exciting games including Dash and Grab, Bootcamp Challenge and Last Man Standing along with 2015 favourites, The Ramos Fizz Cocktail Relay and Tug of War. Participants and spectators were kept well nourished by the awesome team at Patty & Bun, with the iconic Sailor Jerry Air Stream bar serving up cocktails from across the William Grant & Sons UK portfolio including the Hendrick’s Cucumber Collins and the Sailor Jerry Highland Vice. The Reyka Vodka ‘make your own’ Bloody Mary station made a comeback and Señor Scoop cooled everyone down with their adult ice creams.

Matt Sayer, Senior Prestige On-Trade Manager, William Grant & Sons UK, commented: “After the success of the 2015 Highland Festival, we had no other option but to bring it back, this time bigger and better! It’s the perfect setting for bartenders to enjoy their day off and for our ambassadors to engage with the on-trade, showcasing their brands in a fun and informal setting.”

Anna Sebastian, from Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, commented: “What an amazing day! Seeing so many people from our industry, from all over the UK come together was pretty special. Seeing old friends and making new ones, it’s events like this that bring us together and make a good industry great. Thank you to the William Grant & Sons UK team for such an organised and well-executed event.”

· Team Glenfiddich, led by ambassador Mark Thomson
· Team The Balvenie, led by ambassador James Buntin
· Team Hendrick’s, led by ambassador Ally Martin
· Team Monkey Shoulder, led by ambassador Grant Neave
· Team Sailor Jerry, led by ambassador EmmaLi Stenhouse
· Team Reyka, led by ambassador Joe Petch (2016 Champions)
· Team Disaronno, led by ambassador Rod Eslamieh (2015 Champions)
· Team Wood’s, led by Rum Specialist Stephen Rutherford
· Team Ancient Reserves, led by Whisky Specialist Alwynne Gwilt

York Whisky Festival 2012 Review

Last year I became lucky enough to experience two whisky festivals organised by The Whisky Lounge. I happened to be in York for a weekend and heard that the Whisky Festival was in town, so naturally I decided to spend the afternoon there.

I targeted the whiskies I knew I hadn’t tried in Manchester, as well as some favourites, so below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012 – 46%

A good combination of smoke and malt on the nose, with a mix of pepper, chocolate and spice on the palate that creates a long-lasting finish.

Kilchoman 2006 Vintage Release – 46%

Delicate smoke with hints of spice on the nose. Bitter orange takes over on the palate with smoke flavours dominating a lingering finish.

Kilbeggan 18yr – 40%

Dominating vanilla on the nose with hints of cinnamon aromas following. Both cinnamon and vanilla present on the palate with the addition of caramel throwing itself in to create a long, sweet dram.

Glen Garioch 12yr – 48%

A mix of fudge and pear blend well on the nose to create a sweet offering. The palate is rather sharp to begin with but mellows quickly. Ripe banana moves to a slight smoke and salt flavour with the pear notes coming through at the end.

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.

Yamazaki 12yr – 43%

A bold floral mix with tropical fruits blending nicely on the nose. Smooth sweetness on the palate with a little spice and wood finish.

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.

Tullibardine Aged Oak Edition – 40%

Citrus and barley on the nose with a slight aroma of chocolate followed by a vanilla and nut mix on the palate. Rather oily texture to begin but becomes rather dry near the finish.

Tullibardine Rum Finish – 46%

Toffee and vanilla dominating on the nose and palate with a rather sweet offering and a hint of spice. Heavy dose of rum which helps onto a long finish.

Balvenie PortWood 21yr – 40%

A strong yet fresh floral aroma with sweet notes and a hint of smoke on the nose. An extremely smooth and creamy flavour of fruit and honey on the palate.

Berry Bros. Speyside Reserve – 46%

Citrus and honey aromas on the nose with a slight nut scent following. Rather rich on the palate with fruits and malt combining well despite a slightly dry finish.

Speyburn 10yr – 40%

Fresh lemon scents on the nose which develops into fruit flavours on the palate. Sweet toffee also makes an appearance on the long finish.

Speyburn Bradan Orach – 40%

Green fruit mixes nicely with subtle vanilla on the nose. Delicate honey on the palate to begin-with but moves onto a smooth spicy finish.

Old Pulteney 17yr – 46%

Sweet nose of white fruit and butter with a scent of wood on the nose. Rounded hits of vanilla on the palate with the white fruit more delicate on the long finish.

Old Pulteney 21yr – 46%

A good hit of pear and apple on the nose with a little spice following nicely. Sweet on the palate with flavours of vanilla and honey making its presence. Dry finish.

Balbair 2002 – 46%

Floral fruits on the nose with hints of vanilla and toffee following, A good mix of spice and sweetness on the palate with orange and lemons dominating.

Balbair 1989 – 46%

Apple and raisin notes on the nose and then combines with spice flavours on the palate. A long, rich offering with raisin dominating throughout.

Balbair 1975 – 46%

Fresh citrus and coconut notes on the nose. Sweet and spicy on the palate with honey and fruits on the finish. Warming.

Arran 14yr – 46%

Dry notes of vanilla and toffee on the nose but a good hit of toffee on the palate. Chocolate and spice develops a rich sweetness on the finish.

Arran 12yr Cask Strength – 54.1%

Peach and apricot noticeably delicate on the nose, with fresh fruit and spice blending nicely on the palate with a slight kick of citrus at the end.

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish – 50%

Aromas of honey and marzipan on the nose, with citrus, spice and vanilla combining over a long finish with a hint of oak.

Arran Amarone Finish – 50%

Scents of honey and almonds fill the nose whilst chocolate and cherry flavours create a well-balanced match on the palate. Slight oak finish.

Arran Port Finish – 57%

Dry vanilla and citrus on the nose, with spice added to the mix on the palate. A good combination that develops a warmth on the finish.

Arran Machrie Moor Peated – 46%

Fudge hints on the nose that’s dominated by peat. Citrus and spice start off the palate, but smoke flavours follow quickly on a lingering finish.

Longmorn 16yr – 48%

Fresh nose of apple and herbs. Citrus creates a rich palate combining with spice and oak which leads to a dry finish.

Strathisla 12yr – 40%

Soft nose of floral and spice. A good malt flavour on the palate with a good hit of fruit on the long finish.

Chivas Regal 18yr – 40%

Orange and vanilla notes combine on the nose and palate, with hints of wood lingering. Spice flavours revealed near the long finish.

Glenlivet 15yr French Oak Reserve – 40%

Rich butter aromas on the nose with oak following. A combination of fruit and nut with spice and cinnamon making an appearance. Lingering finish of spice.

Glenlivet Nadurra Cask Strength 16yr – 54.2%

Fresh, rich aromas of apple and vanilla on the nose. Slight spice on the palate, with vanilla and soft fruits bursting on a dry finish.

Glenlivet 18yr – 43%

Rich toffee and fruit notes on the nose with honey and walnut flavours mixing with spice as it nears the long ending on the palate.

Glenlivet 21yr – 43%

Cereal and honey aromas create a rich nose, whilst a sweet ginger and cinnamon offering on the palate developing towards a warm, long ending.

Glenrothes 1998 – 43%

Rich vanilla and lemon-grass on the nose with hints of spice following. Rather soft on the palate with flavours of sweet vanilla and cinnamon blending well.

Glenrothes 1995 – 43%

Light citrus and spice on the nose with biscuit and cinnamon mixing nicely. A rich spice on the palate with a cocoa and coffee dry finish.

Glenrothes 1988 – 43%

Rich spice and berry notes on the nose with a hint of orange coming through. Orange and ginger combine well on the palate with a long, creamy finish.

Highland Park 18yr – 43%

Rich oak nose with hints of smoak, honey and floral aromas near the end. Soft honey and creamy spice on the palate with a long lingering peat finish.

Highland Park 21yr – 47.5%

Sweet toffee on the nose with hints of sherry creeping through. Sweetness carries onto the palate with flavours of smoke and spice to round it off.

Macallan Gold – 40%

A good blend of vanilla and citrus on the nose with fresh fruit, vanilla and toffee creating a short spice finish.

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.

Laphroaig Triple Wood – 48%

Dry nuts mix with a dominant sweet raisin aroma on the nose. A kick of peat on the palate leading to a vanilla, caramel and dried fruit finish.

Ardmore 25yr – 51.4%

Marzipan, peat and dark fruit dominate the nose with the peat continuing onto the palate with the rich fruits slowly following. Long, fresh finish.

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.

Some fantastic whiskies on offer yet again at the York 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 Kilchoman 2006, Hibiki 12yr, both Speyburn’s, Balbair 2002, Old Pulteney 21yr, Arran Machrie Moor, all the Glenlivet’s I tried as well as the Laphroaig 18yr.

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.

Sláinte.

© 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.

Manchester Whisky Festival 2012 Review

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.

Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel 50%

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.

The Balvenie Distillery Tour

The last of the distillery tours from our Scotland trip was Glenfiddich’s sister distillery, The Balvenie. Located just down the road from Glenfiddich, we were able to visit soon after finishing the Glenfiddich tour, where David Mair, the Balvenie distillery ambassador, greeted us. The Balvenie distillery is hidden away a little from the main road, but the shear size of the place comes into view, mainly due to the fact that Balvenie are part of a rare breed, they have their own malting floor, and are the only Scottish distillery who do it ‘traditionally’, which is a sight to be seen.

The malt floor

The malting floor was our first port of call, with David explaining that they use barley from the Balvenie Mains farm. He took us into a huge building which comprised of two floors. The top floor housed the newly brought in barley, where it is stored for a period of time and then steeped in spring water for 2-3 days. It then gets dropped down onto the germination floor where it is spread around by the malt men (or malt monkeys). This allows the barley to convert into natural sugars, and is turned by the four malt monkeys so that all the barley can get an even chance to germinate. Once the grains have sprouted, they’re transported back upstairs and across to the malt kiln. The malt is spread across a metal floor where a fire below, using anthracite and, to begin with, a small amount of peat, heats up the malt. All the resulting heat passes through the barley, and then out through the pagoda roof, a staple for all whisky distilleries. We were lucky to visit the malt kiln, as it had yet to be used since the re-start of the New Year production. The wooden beams towering above were covered in barley, and the strong smell of dry barley and peat was still lingering around despite the winter winds blowing through the pagoda roof.

David then showed us the underneath of the malt kiln, where their were piles of anthracite and peat, ready to be thrown in to heat the kiln above.

The inside of a Balvenie washback

Once dried, the malt is then transported to the next building, housing the mash tun. First however, the malt is grinded through rollers and turned into grist. It’s then mixed into the mash tun with spring water from the nearby Conval Hills and is heated to around 63-64°C. This is done three times so it can extract all the sugars present. The result of the heat turns the mixture of starch into fermentable sugars, or wort. where David then took us to one of two rooms that held the washbacks. Each washback is 5 metres high, and combines the wort with yeast, which rises the temperature and the production of carbon dioxide. We were shown how the washbacks are never full, despite a layer of foam being produced from the reaction, rotating blades attached to the top of the lid of the washback help keep the level consistent. The process takes around 2-3 days and has a ABV of around 7-9%. We were able to taste a little from one of the washbacks, as at this stage it’s very similar to the production of beer. It gave a rather hot, very malty taste which, as you can imagine, gave very little taste to roam on the palate.

The next room housed the 6 copper pot stills. A very warm room, David showed the pipes that run the wash from the washbacks to one of the copper wash stills, where it is then heated, causing the alcohol vapour to rise up the neck and into the condenser where it is cooled by water. This liquifies the alcohol and is known as low wines. Once ready for the second distillation, a mixture of the low wines, foreshots and faints are heated up and again the alcohol vapours rise. The foreshots and faints are from a previous distillation, the parts that were not deemed pure enough, and is taken from the spirit safe where the stillman decides which is the purest portion of the spirit run. Once the ‘heart’, or new-make spirit, has been taken away, it is then ready to be matured in casks.

The Balvenie Copper Pot Stills

First though, we hopped in to a Land Rover and made our way to Balvenie’s own cooperage. Housed in a giant warehouse, they maintain all the casks so that they are ready to be used for the maturation process. All stages of the cooperage were their, including re-firing the inside of American oak barrels and making sure the barrels have no leaks from the reassembly. Outside, their were literally hundreds of barrels stacked tall, all ready for our next port of call, the warehouse.

We were driven to the famed ‘Warehouse 24’, where the dark, cold environment masked around rows of different aged barrels. David explained that Balvenie use American oak barrels as well as European sherry oak, which when married together to create their range, give off the flavours that Malt Master David Stewart is after.

Then the part that we had all been waiting for, the chance to sample The Balvenie range. Laid out to us in The Balvenie hut were DoubleWood, Signature, Single Barrel, PortWood, Tun 1401 Batch 2 and Peated Cask. So i present to you below my tasting notes:

Balvenie Signature 12yr – 40%

Matured first in bourbon, then refill bourbon and finally in sherry casks. On the nose, a very soft aroma of corn with honey and vanilla essences coming through later. The palate enjoys dried fruit balanced out with a soft spice that drives into a warm honey after-taste.

Balvenie DoubleWood 12yr – 40%

Starting its maturation in a traditional whisky cask, it is then transferred to a first fill European oak sherry cask. Sweet, rich aromas of fruit and honey mix together in your nose, but mellowing out into a smooth blend of raisin, nut and a slight cinnamon hint.

The Balvenie tasting glasses

Balvenie Single Barrel 15yr – 47.8%

Created using only a single oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles, meaning each bottle is unique and unrepeatable! The nose of soft corn and citrus with heather blended well in the nose and made its way onto the palate in the same manner, but a kick of oak and spiced apple hits you at the end. Sam recommended adding a drop of water to the dram, which gave it a spicier longer after-taste.

Balvenie PortWood 21yr – 40%

A blend of rare Balvenie is moved to port casks to create a strong yet fresh floral aroma with sweet notes and a hint of smoke on the nose. An extremely smooth and creamy flavour of fruit and honey on the palate.

Balvenie Peated Cask 17yr – 43%

Hints of smoke and soft peat blend gently on the nose, with a slow subtle hintness on peat on the palate mixing with vanilla. Short spice aftertaste with a sweetness lingering.

Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 4- 50.5%

Taking its name from the traditional tun in which it’s married, a blend of 7 traditional whisky casks and 3 sherry butts ranging from 1967 to 1989 give off a heavy oak nose with slight smokyness mixed with oranges and a ‘old warehouse’ smell. An instant sweetness hits the palate which gets the juice buds flowing into a long blend of dried fruits, spice and slight hints of peat that mellows nicely.

So the last of the distillery tours was a lengthy yet intricate view of Scotlands only malt floor distillery, with a real appreciation from all the visits of how whisky is created. I can now talk about whisky with more confidence now i’ve see the sheer scale of the equipment used, the climates the workers work in and length of time whisky takes to get to our lips in a bar or restaurant. If you ever get the chance to visit any distillery, it’s highly recommended, even if whisky isn’t for you. It’s a fascinating experience, and one that i will defently be doing next year.

Check out the rest of the photos of the distillery including Warehouse 24, the malt floor, the malt kiln and the cooperage here.

Sláinte

OTHER THE BALVENIE EXPRESSIONS

Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 5 – 50.1%

Blended together in a vat consisting of 5 whisky casks and 4 sherry butts. A bold start with lots of sherry and spice mixing well. Very spicy from the beginning once it hits the palate. Mouth-watering with a sweet yet light flavour of vanilla. A long, smooth finish that dries a little at the end.

Check out photos from The Balvenie Master of Craft via my Facebook page.

© 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.

4 Distilleries in 4 Days

For 4 days next week i’ll be touring the land of Scotland where i’ll be taking in the sights of Auchentoshan, The Dalmore, Glenfiddich and The Balvenie distilleries. Expect a full review of the tour when i get back, but until then, follow me on Twitter (@drinksenthusist) or Facebook (search for Drinks Enthusiast) for up-to-the-minute updates as and when i can.

Make sure you sign up to the site to get a first hand look at the reviews as well as a whole bunch of photos.

See you soon!