The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, 07-08 October 2011

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The Whisky Exchange London Whisky Show

The previous editions of the London Whisky Show were organized by the Whisky Exchange and GW Publishing. Due to a difference of opinion, the two parties decided to organize separately a whisky fair in London 1 week apart, but apparently, only The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show will take place.

This was my first attendance to an UK whisky fair and I was pleased then I received my approval for the Press and Trade session of the Whisky Show that took place on the 7th of October between 12 and 15h30, before the public session opened at 16h.

Entrance to the Whisky Show

With slightly more than 3 hours for a whisky fair and a very large selection of fine whiskies, the choice was very difficult. A very large selection of whiskies was available in order to satisfy the neopyhte as well as the "connoisseurs".

After a first orientation round, my first stop was at the stand of Morrison Bowmore where I was eagerly looking for tasting the brand new Glen Garioch 1971 official bottling for the Whisky Exchange. Unfortunately, the bottle was not available and the only Glen Garioch available for tasting was the 12 YO. Anyway, I asked for tasting the Auchentoshan Valinch. When I asked about the brand new Auchentoshan 1975, I received a negative answer. Although it did not start exactly as expected, the people at Bowmore treated me well with a delicious Auchentoshan 1957 and the superb Bowmore 1964 White. Well, I gladly accepted this compensation.

A bit further, I stopped at the stand of The Whisky Exchange / Whisky show where a very tempting selection of single malt was displayed. At my first stop, I decided to taste the excellent peaty, complex and slightly sherried (?) Bowmore 1993 with its beautiful retro-style label. Thank you Tim for the recommendation. At my second stop, I tasted the dry sherried and peated Port Ellen 1983 before tasting the spicy, waxy, gingery and mustardy (expensive) Brora. At my last stop, coinciding with the end of the Trade and Press session, I could get a wee dram of the Lochside 1964 Single Blend, one of the best whisky I tasted during the fair.

At Suntory, the new Hakushu Bourbon barrel and the Yamazaki Bourbon barrel were available. Both are limited edition, with 3000 bottles for the European market (and 1000 for the UK). These two whiskies do not carry age statement or abv, but the contain whiskies aged between 10 and 15 years and bottled at 48.2%.

One of the 2 alleys with the stands.

I move then to the next stand left for a small session at Tomatin with the 21 YO 50%, 30 YO at 43% and a nice looking Tomatin 1982 Single Cask (cask 92) that I will review in due time.
On the same side of fair, my next stop was at the stand of BenRiach and Glendronach, including the new BenRiach 1995 PX sherry finish, the Horizon 12 YO triple-distilled and bottled at 50%, as well as the latest BenRiach 1971 Single Cask. At Glendronach, the just bottled 21 YO Parliament was available as well as a 1995 and 1971 Single Cask from the latest batch. These whiskies will be reviewed in due time. I am looking forward to comparing them with the GlenDronach I tasted at GlenDronach distillery the Saturday before (see my report Speyside tour September-October 2011 to come).

At Springbank, the Kilkerran Work in Progress batch III  was accompanying the latest Longrow 18 YO and the 14 YO Longrow Burgundy that will be released within the next 2-3 weeks as part of their Wood Expression range. The next Springbank Society bottling has been selected and it will be a Longrow.

Whyte and Mackay
had probably the most posh stand, with a display of very nice looking bottles. I was pleased to see several Fettercairn, including the Fior, a smooth slightly peated fettercairn (vatting of non-peated and heavily peated Fettercairn) and the luxurious-looking Fettercairn 30 and 40 YO. I saw the prototypes of this range when I was last time at the distillery and I have to say that the packaging looks really good. A selection of Isle of Jura was present, as well as several Dalmore (e.g., 15 YO). Last but not least, the Shackelton was available for tasting, as well as several Whyte & Mackay blends. The staff was very courteous.

At Ian Mcleod, my selection went for the Mortlach 18 YO from Chieftains, the 1972 Glengoyne Spirit Safe and based on the recommendation of the staff, a Ian MacLeod Glen Grant 1954. I am looking for tasting those in proper conditions. Since Ian McLeod took over Tamdhu, I took the opportunity of asking a few questions about the future of this distillery. Ian McLeod has acquired as part of the deal casks of Tamdhu. However, the youngest cask is 9 years old. Ian McLeod will release a 10 YO early next year (around March). The Saladdin boxes being in poor condition, a serious investment would be needed for further production. Therefore, the Saladdin boxes will be discontinued. They were the last one in operation in Scotland. In addition, malting using Saladdin boxes was not economical.

I moved then to Glenfiddich for sampling their new 19 YO Age of Discovery with the hope to taste one of their single cask.

Unfortunately, there was a strong attendance at the stand and move to the more quiet stand of Inverhouse and their new selection of Balblair (2000, 1987 and 1978) that have been released this year. From Old Pulteney, the 23 YO sherry and bourbon (retail exclusive) were available. An Old Pulteney 30 and 40 years will be released in the months to come. The 40 YO is from a sherry cask. A bottle of OId Pulteney 17 YO with its redesigned label was present. The new label will be tested first in the UK.

At Douglais Laing, a fine selection of single malt was available, including a 19 YO sherry Laphroaig and a 28 YO Clynelish bottled last August. I will review them hopefully soon. A Laphroaig 25 YO will be released shortly. There was also a Littlemill 19 YO bottled last year that I could not resis. Littlemill is a whisky that matures suprisingly well and there is a quite a few gems released recently.

And the second alley.


Chivas normally present only their core range at whisky fairs but the Whisky Show seems to be an exception, since the Glenlivet 25 YO and some of their Cellar range could be tasted. When I asked for a Glenlivet of the Cellar Collection, I was most pleased to be served with the 1959 Glenlivet. A deliciously smooth, mellow, rich and surprisingly intense Glenlivet. Simply excellent.

Number One drink made recently the news when they purchased the whole stock of Karuizawa. They had Karuizawa 1981 for the Whisky Exchange at the stand as well as a few Chichibu. A long list of Karuizawa was bottled recently and should be available soon for la Maison du Whisky, but to my surprise, they were all exclusively bottled for la Maison du Whisky and thus might not reach the UK market.

Diageo, Colin Dunn was making his show, unfortunately, none of the Special Releases 2011 were available. They should be available in retails in about 2 weeks. Until then, none of these bottles will be opened for tasting.

At Glenmorangie, Ardmore, Laphroaig, Tobermory & Bunnhahabhain no new products were available or displayed and due to time constraint, I had to skip Cooley, Compass box, Highland Park, The Macallan, and Berry Bros & Rudd.

Glenglassaugh: they were rather busy but I managed to find a slot close to the end of the session in order to taste the excellent richly fruity and sherry Glenglassaugh The Chosen Few Ronnie Routledge 35 YO.

Gordon & MacPhail
: It was getting close to the end of the session and I decided to close my Whisky show with a few selected dram and the first one was the Benromach 1969, a recently bottled Benromach from a sherry cask, with an excellent sweet, smooth and mellow nose and a most pleasant mouth structure, a thread of peat and some delicious sweet fruity notes, with a finish of medium length. An excellent whisky, but rather different from the Benromach distilled under the ownership of G&M.

Anguse Dundee (Tomintoul & Glencadam:
As part of the Autumn Speyisde whisky festival (report to come), I tasted most of the range and decided to taste the new 14 YO made with 100% first fill bourbon cask. A very buttery and creamy Tomintoul with nice vanilla flavours. The use of first fill bourbon also contributes to a different flavour profile than the core range.

Speciality Brands:
I appreciated very much the Kh1, a dry peaty, aromatic and mineral whisky, with a long finish, strong maritime, iodine and seaweeds flavours. Very good and giving the impression of being older than it really is (3-4 years old). The Ar 2 suffered from comparison with the Kh1 being less peaty and intense, although it was more complex and subtle.

Most of the Whisky Show special bottlings.

Kilchoman: I had the opportunity of tasting the new 100% Islay Kilchoman, less peated than the current production, since produced with medium peated malt malted on the floor maltings at Kilchoman. The nose was maltier and the peat with rounder and less dry than the previous products. The finish was smoother and slightly more aromatic, showing some traces of youth. An advance sample of the 5 YO (at cask strength) was available. It was immediately drier and more peated than the 100% Islay, and more complex on the palate. It is also rounder than the previous releases. Kilchoman continues its progression.

Buffalo Trace: I recently bought a few products from this distillery blind so it was a good opportunity for tasting most of the recently bottled Antique collection range (Autumn 2011 release). The WL Weller was deliciously smooth and mellow wheated bourbon, while the George T. Stagg was rather spirity and cleaner. Even diluted, the alcohol content is immediately apparent. The Thomas H. Handy Sazerac was a very pleasant mellow, smooth rye whisky with nice and strong orange peel flavours. The older Sazerac was mellower, lighter in tasted with a certain oakiness. The only difference these two whiskies are the age: the former is bottled at around 6 years old and the latter was 18 years old. Recently a Colonel EH Taylor small batch has been bottled. This is the product of the “old Taylor” distillery while a new Single Batch will be released shortly. The single barrel is coming from the Buffalo trace distillery using the recipe that they recently acquired. Although both carry the same brand, they are products of 2 separate distilleries.

Four Roses: I tasted most of the range at the distillery some weeks ago; therefore I contented myself with a single barrel.

The queue shortly before the public opening.

Well, my time was limited and an extra 30 min would have been welcomed, but I managed to do most of it and I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay in London. The venue was nicely located (dangerously close to the Vinopolis Whisky Exchange shop where you can buy the whiskies tasted at the whisky show), with a large selection of fine whiskies in a charming atmosphere and professionally organized. Very well done the Whisky Show!

I am will try to make sure next year that I will stay an extra day to attend to the master classes, to have more time for discussing with the distributors and the other whisky enthusiasts present.

With 12 months to go for the next Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, I should have time to publish the tasting notes of all whiskies I tasted at the 2011 Whisky Show.



Of note, an auction house is now opening whisky auctions. Check out at ww.mulberrybankauctions.com.


www.whisky-news.com ©08 Oct 2011