Following on from Part 10,….
I finish this year’s Whisky Show, appropriately enough, at Elixir – yet another Independent bottler doing things the right way. I arrive in time to see Julie switching on the neon sign that reads ‘No Added Colour’.
There’s a lot to try and little time left, so let’s crack on! My notes remain sparse, as has been this year’s theme.
Linkwood 2009/2021 11yo Elixir/SMoS hogshead #315755 [314 bts] 57.2% WB88
- C: Fresh beer-driven deliciousness.
Scores 86 points
Linkwood 2006/2021 14yo Elixir/SMoS hogshead #802400 [282 bts] 57.4% WB87.67
- C: Another on-point Linkwood. As delicious as the 11yo, plus one.
Scores 87 points
Bowmore 33yo  Elixir ‘Islay Violets’ 46.2% WB88.98
American oak-matured and finished in cognac casks. Compliments of Fi Shoop.
- N: Fentimans lemonade with parma violet cordial,…..
- T: The entire parma violet bathroom range,…
- F: ,.. concluding cleanly with its toasted/roasted malt base, as if to remind us that this is a whisky and not a violet-flavoured cocktail.
- C: A curiosity malt that comes across as an amusing if brilliant stunt. One to be admired, and also to split the room.
Scores 85 points
Glen Elgin 2008/2021 12yo Elixir/SMoS cask #803868 [306 bts] 57.6% WB87.46
- N,T,F: This is sooo fruity to smell and taste,… just great!
- C: I’m late to the party but better late than never. Glen Elgin is now firmly on my radar.
Scores 87 points
Imperial 1991/2020 29yo Elixir/SMoS Bourbon Barrel [194 bts] 45.7% WB89
- N: Boy, and there I was thinking the Glen Elgin was fruity!
- T: More pancake-y on the palate.
- F: Barley sugar after more fruit action.
- C: We seem to be going up and up.
Scores 88 points
Before we begin to take off, someone – perhaps Raudenieks,… from Latvia? – passes me “the Mexican one” from Abasolo distillery who are premiering their ancestral corn whisky at the show.
Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico  Ob. 100% Ancestral Corn 43% WB73.09
- N: Reminiscent of rhum agricole, no?
- T: Creamed corn to taste.
- F: ,….
- C: Taste and smell-wise, it comes across more like rhum agricole than whisky [at this moment in time], which may mean a barrier to entry for the hardened malt heads. Having said that, well done them for making it to one of the best whisky shows on the planet – given the ‘C-ituation’. Work in progress for sure. [No score].
Let’s get back on track. Where were we? Single malt, yes, and we were starting to fly.
[Loch Lomond] Croftengea 2005/2021 16yo Elixir The Whisky Trail cask #272 56.2% WB85.25
- N,T,F: Tar, tar, and more tar. Then there’s the honey maltiness,.. saltiness later.
- C: What’s not to like? As desirable as the earlier Imperial, for different reasons.
Scores 88 points
Let’s see if we can’t take off with a grand old Bunnahabhain.
Bunnahabhain 44yo  Elixir/SMoS [492 bts] 42.4% WB90.88
- C: Desirably consolidated dry honey nose as is typical of malts – and Bunna’s in particular – at this age. The rest can’t quite live up to the olfactory pleasures, but it’s still absolutely delicious juice all-round.
Scores 89 points
We are knocking at the 90-point door. Who else but Ben Nevis to get us into the air.
Ben Nevis 1997/2021 24yo Elixir/SMoS cask #105 [561 bts] 57.7% WB89.82
- N: A tidy Nevis on the nose displaying fruit milk and a toasted funk.
- T,F: Incredibly engaging spicy > creamy < malt. 30 minutes in and it gives more and more.
- C: I love Ben Nevis and this is yet another example of why.
Scores 89 points
Last orders have been called [and called] and exhibitors are removing the bottles. “What to finish on?”, I ask “24yo Laphroaig?”. “Perfect”.
- C: Yes, yes, and yes. Does contemporary Laphroaig get much better than this? Laphroaig’s style has significantly changed/evolved in the last 20 years, and not always to my liking. Independent bottler, the SMWS, have consistently brought out some crackers in the last 6+ years [29.223, for example], and this one is right up there with them. I daren’t ask the price.
Scores 89 points
With a smile on my face from start to finish, The Whisky Show 2021 was perhaps the best year of them all, no doubt because of the show’s absence in 2020 and all the goings-on that have been brought about by the ‘C-ituation’. Some of the show’s regular faces were absent, most notably the internationals who usually attend year upon year. Those who returned seemed to do so with a renewed spirit [and haircuts and new wardrobes !!]. There were new faces also, some younger faces,… more female faces. Fantastic!
Having said that, all the years have been special. More than any year, The Whisky Show is a reminder that whatever the whisky, how good/how much/how old/how rare,…. whisky IS about the people. For anyone even vaguely interested in whisky, The Whisky Show is a must.
Of the new/rising stars, alas, I didn’t get to the Copenhagen Distillery stand that I’d heard so many good things about. I’m sure another opportunity will arise soon enough. Neither did I get to Oxford Artisan Distillery, though I did acquire a sample courtesy of TBWC [report to follow]. I also failed to visit Mossburn, Torabhaig, [pic below], Aberfalls, Waterford,… the Argentinian one? So much on offer, so little time!
Distilleries/bottlers/brands notably missing from the show [unless I failed to spot them] included:
Most of my time/focus/energy this year was spent with:
- Independent bottlers: TBWC, Adelphi, Artful Dodger, Watt, Hunter Laing, Elixir,… Can’t believe I missed BB&R!
- Of the brands, just Pernod and Diageo featured – Pernod by far the stand-out stall of the ‘Big Two’ with their [mature] Braeval’s, Glen Keith’s, and six Caperdonich’s!.
- Of the distilleries directly, just Springbank [via the masterclass], Ardnamurchan [via Adelphi] and a quick pop-in to Lindores and a serendipitous pass-by of Dornoch featured.
- The Old & Rare arena was brilliantly represented once again, by whisky.auction who brought some amazing whisky at very reasonable prices. Another mention too goes to Sukinder’s brilliant Three Blind Men.
- Of the rest of the World, I was fortunate to try Shizouka – early signs are very good – but it was Chichibu that shone as brightly as ever. Again, there was soo much to see and such little time. I shall have to attend all three days in 2022.
Perhaps most surprisingly, I didn’t buy a single bottle. The really good stuff was way out of reach [for my budget], and everything else was good if not enough to inspire a purchase. Despite all my ‘Letting Go’ [WLP], I still possess a lot of whisky. Then again, the show’s weekend ticket alone, plus the masterclasses and dream drams add up to a significant amount – worth every penny, every time.
Until next year, and the year after, and the year after that. With thanks, as ever, to TWE team.