I have (hopefully) booked on four:
Douglas Laing (Wondering if I'll get to meet the forum's Suzy?)
Whyte & Mackay (Maybe I'll take my own water pistol this time)
Caol Ila "Vertical" tasting (Does this mean we all stand for this one?)
Hart Brothers (Looking forward to seeing Donald again)
We don't have these sort of events in Ireland so I'll have to travel and as Germany and Holland are cheap for buying in comparison to Ireland and the UK I would be aiming for one of these festivals. Maybe next year but I may try for one later in the year.
Just briefly, todays drams were....
Caol Ila vertical tasting
8yr "Unpeated" 59.8% vol
12yr 43% vol
18yr 43% vol
Distillers Edition (reputedly 8-10 yrs) "Moscatel Finish", Cask 2-466 43% vol
25yr 58.4% vol
Unfortunately, due to lack of bookings the Hart Bro's tasting was cancelled, but I did get my money returned without problem.
From the stands
JWWW "auld" range - Bladnoch 16y 50.1% vol, one of 120 bottles
An old Bladnoch bottling from I believe the late 1970's / early 1980's:
Bladnoch 8y "P. Mackenzie & Co. Ltd, Italian Import, Gradi 43"
During a long chat with RP (again) he very kindly personally gave me a very generous sample of the Dalmore 40y at 40% vol.
Limburg Fair bottling of Tomatin 30y 45.6% vol
Again during a long chat with Stewart Laing I was given a generous dram of Millburn Old Malt Cask 1969, 36y at 50% vol
My last couple of drams were from Donald Hart (of Hart Bro's) and were a lovely Clynelish (sorry, I didn't note the age or strength) and a Dalmore of around 10-12yrs. (Sorry, no notes again).
I will of course offer a full report sometime during tomorrow when I get my thoughts together, but I will apologise in advance for the fact that it will not be as poetically pleasing as one of Wendy's now famous dialogues!
In the Caol Ila tasting there were only 15 people and rather than pour the drams himself, the speaker just passed the bottle round and said "help yourselves"
Diageo are probably still wondering where all the whisky went with so few participants!
Anyway, I kept a little of each dram back and made a Caol Ila vatting of all 5 drams which was ..... interesting.
I must remember to add this into my report as somehow the vatting managed to hold and display the characteristics of each of the 5 component drams without being too nasty.
Part 1: It's different this year
It's Saturday morning, it's cold, damp, drizzly and positively miserable. A day when I would much rather stay in bed. But not today, as it's Munich's only whisky festival this weekend.
So, I get myself ready, even with shirt and tie as today I wish to have a few business discussions with some of the participants of the festival. I make sure that I have my camera, a couple of bottles of still water, my tasting notes book, plenty of business cards and then venture into the great miserable dampness. But at least this miserable dampness is a general improvement over the treacherous sheet ice glacier that was the entrance to last years festival and which one had to traverse before being rewarded with access to some fine drams. Then of course, even more treacherously one had to traverse it again AFTER a fair few fine drams!
Not so this year, as one popped out of the underground station, ("Richard Strauß Strasse" is highly recommended over the more normal "Arabellapark") that huge concrete mass which is the Arabella Sheraton Hotel beckons.
The entrance to the hotel is filled with an array of vintage Rolls Royces and an odd (well rather nice as opposed to literally odd) Maserati Quattroporto, but alas, I drag myself away from these and force myself to enter through the door which says "Inter Whisky" and leads to ..... who knows what?
This is the third Munich whisky festival and the first under new "ownership".
The two previous events were held on a small island (Praterinsel) in the middle of the river Isar which runs through central Munich. This is a location which holds various events from ethic markets to punk rock concerts and one which I personally believed was not ideal for a whisky festival, as I prefer the idea of whisky being sampled in more comfortable surroundings. So, this year I have my wish as the festival moves into a large and very comfortable hotel. The food area was excellent, plenty of comfortable seating even though the food choice was just a little limited, but the Scotch Broth with Angus beef turned out to be an excellent choice. Unlike the steak sandwich which was more sandwich than steak!
In the two previous years, entry to the event was at a cost of (if I remember correctly) €15 and included vouchers for six basic drams - usually something like the classic malt range from Diageo. After this, one had to buy drams at reasonable prices.
This year, under the management of Inter Whisky, who also run the Frankfurt event, entry was €13 but no drams were included.
Also, drams were purchased via little plastic "chips" (of the Casino rather than fish & chip shop variety ) which themselves cost €1 each.
Drams weere then individually priced at anything from 1 to 8 chips, with 2-3 chips seemingly the norm.
In previous years there were no official Masterclasses. A small area was partitioned from the main event and some of the companies present gave 'presentations or mini-masterclasses' which included some whiskies from their ranges. Entry to these was free of charge and quite literally a free-for-all which resulted in something making the UK New Year Sales look extremely tame by comparison. Especially as the number of people allowed in before the 'door' was closed was extremely limited to the first few in a long queue!
This year, the Masterclasses were held in a separate seminar room, they were very comfortable and did not suffer from all the ambient noise of the festival which last year, was only a thin partition away!
But this year they cost MONEY! - €20 Each.
This year none were full, there were no long queues of disappointed people complaining of not gaining entry, but they were much more professionally run and in my opinion, much better.
€20 (about 13 GBP) Is about the same price as a WL Masterclass and the quality of surroundings is similar to what I experienced in WL Glasgow last year, so I really have no complaints with this.
Unfortunately, my second Masterclass on Sunday was cancelled because only 4 people had booked onto it and it was just not economically feasible for Donald hart to run it, but no problem, I received a refund without any hassle and Donald offered me a private mini masterclass at the stand with some of his fine whiskies!
Another difference this year was the size of the event and the number of companies exhibiting.
I heard a report from Frankfurt in December last year (the other Inter Whisky event) which said that the event was much smaller than expected, with many distilleries not being represented. I would pretty much say the same about this event!
It was about half the size of the previous two events in Munich.
For me, the most disappointing absence was that of Bruichladdich. They have been great supporters of the previous two Munich festivals, even bringing a special festival bottling last year where Jim McEwan spent the whole two days on the stand.
From memory, the larger exhibitors this year were: LVMH (Ardbeg & Glenmorangie), Diageo (mainly concentrating on the Classic range), Pernod Ricard, Whyte & Mackay (with Richard being present Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday), Edrington (HP & Macallan), Laphroaig & Balvenie.
The two main independent bottlers in attendence were Douglas Laing (with Stewart Laing and the German importer on the stand) and Hart Brothers (with Donald Hart and the German importer on the stand).
Other smaller companies were represented by their German importers and a few specialist German shops and independent bottlers were in attendence, for example people like Jack Wieber were there.
Over the 2 days I sampled various drams. Some from distilleries which I already list amongst my favourites, some totally new to me and some which I wanted to taste so that I could assess their potential for inclusion in my tastings and Gourmet evenings.
I now offer you my tasting notes for each one (and hope Jan sees these and includes at least some in the forum tasting notes):
Douglas Laing Masterclass with Stewart Laing
1. Ardbeg old Malt Cask 15y, Oct. 1991, one of 358 bottles
Nose: Gentle and soft sea-air, slightly sweet and faint peat.
This is not a very strongly pungent Ardbeg on the nose.
Palate: Much more power than suggested by the rather subtle nose. Lots of smoke, peat and salt with a hint of iodine.
Long, lively and slightly dry.
With water: Softer with some more flowery (heather?) elements appearing.
MT Verdict: Very good, un-pungent Ardbeg.
2. St. Magdalene Old Malt Cask 24y, Dec. 1982
Nose: Faint heather and herbs, maybe just a touch of liquorice.
Palate: Spicy with liquorice & lemon-citrus.
Very penetrating with a long citrus finish.
MT verdict: I found this one surprisingly powerful for a Lowland whisky.
3. Tactical Old Malt Cask 25y, Dec. 1980, one of 418 bottles
Nose: Mainly smoke and pepper but also including something else which I found difficult to place, maybe a flowery ginger & peat mixture.
Palate: Powerful with honey, smoke, oats and malt.
MT verdict: Excellent, a Tactical success from DL.
4. Mortlach Old Malt Cask, March 1984
Nose: I really struggled with the nose of this one and was unable to identify specific elements. I don't think this was the fault of this dram, maybe I was still Taliskered-out with the previous Tactical?
Palate: My first image was one of a small village in the Yorkshire Dales with chimneys smoking from peat fires. Also some spice and citrus (orange) in there.
MT Verdict: Deceptively good!
5. Port Ellen Old Malt cask 26y, 1975
Nose: Herbs, salt and some faint peat. In nosing this I was immediately transported to an Isaly jetty.
Palate: Sea, smoke, faint iodine and slightly pungent.
MT Verdict: Very good.
6. Macallan Platinum 30y, 1975
Nose: Sherry, oats and malt.
Palate: Much less sherry than I usually expect from an older Mac.
MT Verdict: This was a very pleasant dram but it was not what I would call a typical Macallan as the sherry influence was very light.
At this point my thanks go to Stewart laing for an excellent tasting and some extremely good whiskies.
Other drams tasted on Saturday
Jura 16y OB
Smooth, round, good.
Tullibardine IB (Sorry I missed the age / year on this one)
Initially spicy but turning to liquorice. I could imagine this one being a good match for a spicy starter or a chocolate-based dessert.
Laphroaig 10y IB-JWWW "Auld" range
Not as medicinal as the 10y OB but still a true Laphroaig with smoke, peat and some iodine.
Glenlivet French Oak 15y OB
Fruity, quite dry with some citrus and a little wood - but not too much!
I have planned to use this in my next Gourmet evening with a Duck dish which I am now convinced will work quite well with the fruit and citrus providing a good contrast to the honey-coated duck breast. Add to this the faint wood overtone and I think it will be a successful combination.
Glenlivet 18y OB
Soft, smooth and fruity.
Whyte & Mackay Masterclass with Richard Paterson
In this part of my report I shall limit my comments to the drams themselves, but I will add more information on the class itself to a later post.
1. Dalmore 12y "Malmsey Madeira Finish" 59% vol
Nose: Flowery and slightly citrus with a very faint touch of aniseed.
Palate: Sweet with a very strong tingle on the tongue which gets softer on the second taste allowing some rose-petal flavours to come through.
With water: Much softer and smoother with more rose-petal flavour.
MT Verdict: Too imposing without water but an excellent dram with just a couple of drops.
2. Dalmore 1973 "Cabernet Sauvignon" 50.2% vol
We were told that this will be reduced to around 45% for bottling.
Nose: Dark fruits, brambles, dark cherries, blackcurrant and cedar.
Palate: Big dark fruits, possibly even Christmas pudding, liquorice, plums and a slice of marzipan.
MT Verdict: Very smooth, rich and elegant with wine and dark fruits. I like this!
3. Jura 1988 "Sherry finish" 60.3% vol
This will be rduced to around 47% vol and will be the Jura "Islay Festival" Bottling for 2007.
We were indeed privileged as so far only Richard and some senior managers have tasted this one!
Nose: Burning alcohol! Followed by very strong raisins and currants.
Palate: Nuts, marzipan and rich fruit cake.
With water: Opens up to allow more softer flavours of fruits and nuts to come through and is much better for it. I expect at the bottled strength this will be a great dram.
MT Verdict: Dram Good and very, very long.
With some (hopefully) suitable captions.
Stand Still young man as Richard shows us the design of the stills in use at Dalmore - or was it Jura?
A passion for the history of distilling and the characters who built the industry
Richard gave a wonderfully passionate presentation about the history of distilling and the characters who helped build the industry in a veritable history lesson of Scotland.
Lord Nelson of Trafalgar Sq.
It was in relation to the lions at the foot of Nelson's Column and on the labels of Whyte & Mackay.
"The most expensive thing you'll ever have in your mouth!"
is what Richard offered this young lady in the form of a 62 year old Dalmore.
Oh boy, is that stuff EXPENSIVE!
I suppose she could have bitten a chunk off one of the vintage Rolls Royces in the hotel foyer!
(Not not half as tasty as the 62y Dalmore)
The first thing on my agenda today is the Caol Ila "Vertical Tasting" at 14:00 so at least I can have a sleep-in and also post a few comments on the forum (which I did) before leaving for the Festival.
I arrived in perfect time to find the Vintage Rolls (automotive variety and not the Steak sandwich ones) were still gracing the foyer and totally unvandalised, undamaged and un-bitten by anyone wishing to try something more valuable than the 62y Dalmore
But there again this is Munich and not .............. (add the city of your choice).
My first surprise of the day was to find that the Caol Ila Masterclass was being hosted by a German chap who writes for one of the German language whisky magazines, which means IN GERMAN LANGUAGE.
Oh well, pin back my ears and listen carefully.
1. Caol Ila 8yr "unpeated" 59.8% vol
Nose: Clean, fresh, almost like a swimming pool in a sunny climate. Lots of bio-apples and a faint aroma of leather.
Palate: Initially very fierce due the high %vol but eventually offering sharp apples and lots of malt.
With a little water: Still very spicy malt.
More water: Some flowery notes beginning to emerge on the nose.
Palate: Fresh air, malt and dry, slightly bitter apples but still spicy.
Even more water: Just too much added by MT now. No longer spicy, very smooth with no fire but much of the flavour has been lost to blandness.
MT Verdict: Unsure about this one. It's too much at CS and also has something of Caol Ila missing. Errrrrmmm, maybe it needs that peat?
2. 12yr 43% vol
Nose: For the second time this festival I was reminded of a Yorkshire Dales chimney emitting gentle peat smoke on a Winter morning.
Palate: Smoke, peat and almonds but slightly oily.
MT Verdict: I prefer Caol Ila at a slightly higher ABV. Although a good dram, this was just a little too light for me.
3. 18yr 43% vol
Nose: Not so smoky & peaty. Quite fresh with grass and straw. Also some wood which reminded me of wet oak.
A little more smoke began to emerge on the 3rd & 4th nosings.
Palate: Sea-air, oak, pears, grasss, straw (or hay) and malt.
MT Verdict: This reminds me of a Scottish Jetty and is probably my favourite of the day so far.
4. Distillers Ed. 1993-2006 "Moscatel" 43% vol
Nose: Warm fire with wood and a little merlot (this from a Moscatel cask )
2nd Nosing gave hints of leather and more oak.
Palate: Initial peaty wine is followed by a spiciness which fades to grainy hay.
MT Verdict: A good wood finish with a very interesting character.
5. 25y 58.4% vol
Nose: Malt, smoke and new paint drying in the sun.
On the 3rd nosing I detected some hints of an Alpine meadow.
Palate: Slight smoke, malt, nutty cereal and a few more pungent dark fruits.
With water: (3 drops per 1cl of whisky) Smooth, much more gentle and excellent.
MT Verdict: A good Caol Ila, but at quite a high cost.
Other drams tasted outside of the Masterclass on Sunday
Bladnoch 16y, 50.1% vol, JWWW "Auld" range
Nose: Liquorice, flowers and vanilla
Palate: Vanilla, honey and cereal
With water: More honey, less liquorice
MT Verdict: I like it.
Bladnoch 8y "P. Mackenzie & Co. Ltd, Gradi 43, It. Import
This was an old bottling probably from the early 1980's or even late 1970's on the stand of Lothar Langer.
Nose: Rose petals, hay and sea air.
Palate: Oily, flowery (hydrangea?) with a hint of sea-air, malt & light toffee.
MT Verdict: Very good but quite different.
Dalmore 40y 40 (ish)% vol
After seeing Richard P. Alone on the stand I wandered over for a chat and was made most welcome with a chat about Germany, travel and whisky for something like 20-25 minutes. During this time he offered me a very generous dram from his hidden stock of Dalmore 40y.
Colour: Rich, dark sherry.
Nose: Dark fruits, slightly citrus, marzipan and just a hint of smoke.
Palate: Christmas Pudding! Lots of dark fruits, marzipan and nuts with a slightly dry finish.
Verdict: I was fortunate to sample this at CS in Glasgow last year and although this one at 40% is very good, I preferred the CS version for its length of finish which was still in evidence the following morning (about 12 hours later!).
Tomatin 30y Limburg bottling, 45.6% vol
I was offered this dram by Peter Krause of Munich Spirits / Slowdrink.de during a chat about whisky and food events.
Nose: Hay / horse stables, nuts and sweet exotic fruits.
Palate: Cremy ice cream, apricots and plums.
MT Verdict: I would love to see this one accompany a dessert of ice cream with fresh apricots and perhaps a peach sauce.
Millburn Old Malt Cask, 1969, 36y
As I visited the DL stand one last time to say my good-byes to Stewart and Andreas I was offered my pick of the range. It didn't take long to select this one as it's a dram I have never tried before.
Nose: Fresh, apple crumble, flowery perfume and maybe even a tiny hint of mint.
Palate: Spicy apple crumble! But also including pears and custard (vanilla sauce to the Germans).
MT Verdict: Good! Spicy apple flavour which I would love to match with a fruity, slightly spicy Bruschetta in a Gourmet evening.
Unfortunately, as I was deep in conversation with Donald Hart and a member of HM Consul General in Germany, I didn't manage to record my last two drams of the day which were poured from the Hart Bro's range by Donald. But what I can remember is that they were excellent examples of the Hart Bro's range.
Wonderful report!! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Your attention to your tasting notes are most appreciated especially considering they are written amidst the hustle and bustle of the day. The festival looks like it was a good opportunity for you to sample new and interesting whiskies.
I can't help but compare this event to my experience of the previous two Munich festivals and also WL in Glasgow last year, especially as one theme throughout all would be "change".
Munich Old or New format?
This is a difficult question. As the event has been taken over by a Swiss concern (InterWhisky) the price has inevitably risen, both for members of the public wishing to visit the event and also for the exhibitors wishing to present their wares. After talking to a few stand-holders, it appears that this years cost is higher than last years. Is this the reason why it was only half the size of the previous 2 years? Or do many of the previous attendees (stands, not public) not wish to work with InterWhisky who run the Frankfurt event and now the Munich one?
Whatever the reason, I am saddened by this as I felt the festival suffered as a result. Many distilleries I would have expected were just not represented. Not least of which were Bruichladdich, Glenrothes, Bunnahabhain, Glenfarclas and Springbank.
As I already mentioned, I believe the setting and location were much better this year, but the stands themselves were smaller and fewer. Maybe InterWhisky need to look at this and improve further for next year.
As for cost of entry for the public, the entrance fee was quite low this year, but this included NO WHISKY. "Chips" had to be pruchased at €1 each and these could be exchanged for drams (of 2cl). I never noticed any drams for 1 Chip, but many were available for 2 chips (about 1.35 GBP). If you wanted the really expensive drams, then I did see some at 6 chips or even a couple at 8 chips per dram. But these were very expensive ones and in a small minority.
Food was also purchased via chips, (yes, chips for chips ) and the most expensive offerings of steak sandwich or Scotch broth at 6 chips, so I was quite happy with this!
Masterclasses cost €20 per person which although free in the previous two events, were much better this time and you ddin't have to fight a couple of hundred hairy Bavarians just to get within 100 metres of the door!
All in all, this weekend cost me a total of €13 on public transport to get to the event over the 2 days, which was not bad considering it was a 25 minute train journey each way into Munich, then another 15 minutes on 2 underground trains to get to the hotel.
Entry for the two days cost a further €26 (about 14 GBP) and I spent €12 on food at the event.
4 Masterclasses cost a total of €80, but one was cancelled and my money returned.
Finally, I spent a grand total of 3 chips (€3) on drams at the stands as only one person actually asked me to 'pay' for a dram! But maybe this wonderful hospitality was due to my talking business much of the time?
Anyway, the 2-days cost me a total of €114 (around 75 GBP) including all whisky, entry, 3 Masterclasses and travel, which I am very pleased with and I certainly feel that the event was very worthwhile from both a business and dramming point of view.
WL or Munich?
We have had much discussion about the new format of WL with a revamping of pricing and the introduction of a voucher system. Entry to WL now costs 25 GBP for a full day which equates to €37.50 entry just for one day or a special price of 45 GBP (€67.50) for a 2 day pass, but includes some basic food and 5 whisky vouchers per day.
From my memory of Masterclass prices in WL Glasgow last year, the prices are similar for Munich and WL.
I think it fair to say that the 10 chips I initially bought (but didn't use for whisky), plus the entry fee and also the €12 I spent on food would equate as a package to what I would receive if I bought a 2-day pass for WL.
This means that comparative pricing would be €48 for Munich against €67.50 for WL. So yes, I still believe that the new WL format is just a little too expensive, especially as the food at the Munich fair was probably better than that at WL (according to the reports I have seen so far!)
I also agree with others who have said reduce the WL price and exclude the food, allowing people to buy what food they would prefer.
Will I visit the Munich fair again in the future?
Undoubtedly! It is a good event and a very local one which although smaller this year, improved vastly in quality of location.
Will I visit future WL events?
As I have said, the WL emphasis now seems to be too much on money and making people pay top prices for standard quality. I also feel that the locations for some of the WL events should be improved. Last year Glasgow was basically a tent in George Sq. and from the comments I have seen about the 2007 event, the location will not be such a good one.
From the pictures I have seen of WL London 2007, I can only describe this as what looks like a warehouse with a few stands and chairs.
Come on WL, quality whisky deserves better than this!
I must now end my report by offering my gratitude to various people.
(Is this where I thank my Mum, my director, producer, the family pets ... etc?)
Not quite, but I must say a massive and heart-felt "Thank-you" to Stewart Laing of Douglas Laing and his importer "Andreas" who not only gave an excellent Masterclass with whiskies of the highest quality, but also spent much time personally answering all my stupid questions and putting up with me hanging around the stand on occasions during both days.
My thanks also to Richard Paterson, a great character of the whisky world who gave a Masterclass of his usual excellence and who also spent much time personally answering my questions and offering help and advice along with that excellent Dalmore 40y!!!
Also Donald Hart of Hart Brothers always finds time for me and makes me feel extremely welcome to his world of excellent whiskies.
Others who also offered warm welcomes include:
Jack Wieber of Jack Wieber's Whisky World
Peter Krause of Slowdrink.de
Michael Sabah of Diageo
Martin Herzer of Pernod Ricard
Plus many more who I met in passing and had excellent discussions with.
A very big "Thank-you" from MT.
Malt-Teaser wrote:Last year Glasgow was basically a tent in George Sq.
I think you will find it was considerably more than a 'tent'.
Malt-Teaser wrote:From the pictures I have seen of WL London 2007, I can only describe this as what looks like a warehouse with a few stands and chairs.
First time I've heard the Royal Horticultural Halls called a warehouse. Maybe we should do away with the stands and chairs!
Lets get this straight, no one wants to pay more than a few quid for tickets but you want a top notch venue (which we already have).
I'm sorry if you have taken offence at the comments, no actual offence was meant.
Have you ever been to Oktoberfest (The munich Beer Festival)?
Even those very solid buildings which seat up to 10,000 people are called "tents"!
My comments are based around the fact that when I imagine enjoying a dram or two, I look for an ambience and comfort which befits Scotch malt Whisky.
Think of the SMWS premises. Lounges in comfortable hotels ... etc.
The Masterclasses at Glasgow WL were held in the large hotel on George Sq. and were excellent!
In my opinion, this is the type of venue that should be used for what is often described (or advertised) as The World's PREMIER Whisky Event.
I have seen various clips and pictures of WL in some other countries, speciifcally France and South Africa where the venues looked perfect. But this is not what I have noticed from the various pictures already posted from WL London 2007.
I can't help but compare the relatively few real-life whisky events that I have attended. Every one has been most enjoyable at the time and with lots of discussion around WL at the moment, I thought it quite apt to make my comparison.
As mentioned, I will certainly attend any future Munich event, if only because what is often the largest individual cost associated with any event - that of travel, is minimal for me here.
I would also like to attend some future WL event, but at the moment, the costs associated with this are quite high due to travel and hotels. However, I am sure I will do so at some point.
Hopefully my feedback will be viewed positively and be helpful for the organisors when arranging future locations and events.
Meanwhile, I would now like to draw a close to this part of discussion and remind everyone of my enjoyable weekend in Munich and the great drams and hospitality I enjoyed.
Although, if I am honest and had I known in advance that the numbers booked onto the Hart Bro's Masterclass would not be sufficient for it to run, I could have managed most things in just the Saturday with no need to return on Sunday.
So, back to the actual Munich report and all comments welcomed.
Or even just enjoy the pictures of Richard "That's the most expensive thing you've ever had in your mouth" Paterson
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