What a smashing new venue The Whisky Exchange team have found for the Old & Rare Show in 2020. For many, including myself, One Great George Street in London is easy to get to and a breeze to find. On the flip side, the cost of this convenience is the loss of Glasgow’s fabulously eclectic and energetic post-party bar & food scene. Otherwise, more than happy.
By 11:15 on day 1, around a dozen peeps had congregated in the lobby. I’m the only one not speaking German. What I hadn’t realised is the even earlier birds had already filed upstairs and were stood outside the entrance to the whisky hall above us – thankfully no outdoor queueing for this event because the weather on day 1 was atrocious. I estimate there were around 80 or so whisky enthusiasts at the start of play, ready and eager. It goes without saying that there was a relaxed and convivial atmosphere for what was to come.
On the Saturday I had a gig starting at 2pm so only had a couple of hours, predominantly for shopping. There were exceptions however. The Cavalier invited me to try 1972 & 1974 vintage Clynelish [tOMoH8/10]. Blind, I guessed Brora. I found the ’72 awesomely classic, the ’74 a bit sharper but still splendid. JS had a 1972 Book of Kells Clynelish [tOMoH8/10], that sat nicely between Cavalier’s lovely pair. What a sparing match those two ’72s would make. The Old Man of Huy passes me a ’74 Ledaig. Amazing! All around 90+
Day 2 saw me shopping and eventually sipping, concluding with just sipping. Whilst some stalls were equipped to administer exact pours by the cl, others were pouring more generously by eye or using single-use plastic cups – something to be looked at for next year. Magnus Fagerstrom had ingeniously adopted a child’s medicine measuring spoon to administer his malts, though it was hard to see how he – and others with similar methods – could avoid whisky cross-contamination, however minimal.
A particular mention goes out to Tomaslav Ruszkowski’s stand. It was Tom’s first year at the show. With incredibly generous pours, he had a fine selection of whiskies at very fair prices. Dram Dracula from Whiskybase summed it up very nicely: ‘,… Tomislav’s booth, which probably was the best booth there in terms of giving drinkers stuff that they want at a price that is reasonable‘. From Tom’s stand I procured plenty:
- Clynelish 1972 24yo Ob. Rare Malts [btl #5467] 61.3% WB92.18 WF91 WM90
- Glen Albyn 1979/2008 29yo Glenkeir Treasures [208 bts] 56.5% WB87.75
- Glen Elgin 1988 15yo Ob. The Manager’s Dram 60.2% [750ml] WB92.50 WF94
- Lagavulin 1995/2013 18yo Ob. Islay Jazz Festival 2013 [1500 bts] 51.9% WB91.73 WF92
- Lagavulin 1985/2007 21yo Sherry Cask 56.5% WB93.07 WF95 WM91
- Longrow 1974/1993 18yo W&M 46% WB91.57 WF94
- Port Charlotte 2002/2008 5yo Ob. Giorgio D’Ambrosio Private Reserve [134 bts] 46% WB90.25 WF92 WM90
- Port Ellen 11yo W&M Barrel Selection 46% WB92 WF92
- Port Ellen 1979/2007 28yo Ob. 7th release 54.7% WB92.88 WF92.22 WM90
A special mention also goes out to Harrison from whisky-online who accidentally poured 2 instead of 1cl and charged me for the one. We both tried to out-haggle ourselves, such is the goodwill and camaraderie amongst the whisky fraternity.
Next up was whisky.auction where I collected a few inexpensive ye olde blend samples:
- Antiquary [1940s-50s] Ob. Old Scotch Whisky no abv stated WB86.50
- Gloag’s Perth Whisky [1950’s] Ob. Rare Old Liqueur 83 proof 26 2/3 fl oz WB88.75
- Grand Old Parr [1950s] Ob. Real Antique and Rare Old Spring cap 40% 75cl [WB]0
as well as a 1979 PE
Whilst bagging up, Isabel recommends the Usher’s. I take 1cl in my glass as the first tipple of the day.
Usher’s Extra [1960s] Ob./J.&G. Stewart Blended Scotch Whisky no abv [750ml] WB86
- N: Rather light, so ideal to be trying this at the beginning of the day. Some minutes later, a light apple fruitiness is detected but there’s not a great deal I could find under festival conditions.
- T: Now I see why Isabel recommended this. Light yet soft-crisp fruit extracts complement the reasonable malty malt content. There’s smoke too – well integrated/embedded – and just a hint of OBE.
- F: Longer than expected. Becomes metallic and heathery sour at the tail.
- C: A fine, intact sighter that could have benefitted from better tasting conditions.
Scores 84 points
Whilst shopping and socialising at the C. Dully stand, I’m offered this to try.
C. Dully Blended Malt 2016 3yo Un-Ob. cask sample 58.7%
- This is a cask sample from a batch of 40 casks of blend malt currently being matured by C. Dully in ASBs that were personally selected/individually sniffed out at the Speyside Cooperage. The whisky itself is really impressive contemporary young stuff at just 3 years, hitting the 80s for sure.
More from Christian later.
Whilst bagging a:
,… at the Whisky Show stand, I try:
- N: Yeasty to < albumen-like with a plethora of fruits [of course], breads & savoury-sweet pastries.
- T: Such a stark difference to the yesteryear drams that surround this today, yet very decent whisky in its own right offering many fruits in various condensed and processed forms.
- F: Short with the ethanol lingering.
- C: Like previous releases from Francis and BB&R, another good show.
Scores 86 points
Not that I planned to drink Daftmill on the day, but I hear there are a more Daftmill’s dotted around, including a bottle exclusively for the whisky bars of Scotland. That’s at Fiddler’s.
- N: Again, an albumen yeastiness coupled with a vanilla fruitiness.
- T: In the main, all I noted was a waxy/gacky fruitiness in the form of boiled sweet confectionary.
- F: Runs on through with similarity till the close.
- C: The ‘gackiness’ holds it back a tad [active bourbon cask activity], but it’s still a very decent whisky.
Scores 85 points
Whilst at Fiddler’s I talk to Phil Thompson about the pros and cons of Glasgow vs London for this year’s show. Whilst recollecting over the ‘Glasgow years’, I whip out a fiver for the Daftmill. Would you look at that!
Lastly, I grab samples of:
- Balblair 1970/2005 35yo Ob. 44.2% WB93 WF90
- Caol Ila 1982 34yo Cadenhead Small Batch 60.1% WB91.78 WF93
- Glen Mhor 1970 25yo C&C cask #1164/1166 [1926 bts] 45% WB89.75
,… and take a seat.
[Part 2/3 to follow soon]