You normally either sit round one big table, boardroom style, or more normally grouped in tables of say 2-4 and the 'master' will conduct the class from the front and walk round the audience, talking you through what you are nosing/tasting with Q&A.
What normally happens is that a distillery or brand ambassador will take you through a 'flight' of their products, for example Glenfarclas 10, 15, CS '105', 21 and 30 year old expressions. If you are lucky, ie at a good one, you may also get some special stuff or perhaps to taste their new-make spirit or specific cask samples, from say a bourbon or sherry cask.
The one's I've been at have been in the region of 1-1.5 hours, but this will depend if the Masterclass is a one-off or part of a bigger event or exhibition.
They differ very much from a normal 'tasting' where you get a couple of drams from a rep behind a stall and as such a Masterclass would normally give you a chance to explore in depth the range from one particular distiller or brand.
So very much recommended
I agree with what leither said (I often do!). MC's take the form of an informal tutored tasting with either the distillery manager or the brand ambassador. You often get to taste something special either old cask samples or something you wouldn't normally be able to afford to try. I've tried 30 year old balvenie, 50 year old dalmore and 1957 Glenfiddich at various MC's (we worked out the cost of the dram of dalmore was someting like £180!!). And of course youre encouraged to ask loads of questions!
The best one I've ever done was at this years Highland whisky festival (which was almost unpublicised and hence not well attended). It took place in the still room at Glemorangie, with Distillery manager Grahame Eunson. There was Grahame, myself and one other attendee. We tasted 6 wonderfull cask samples and I came away with a real appreciation of how the various Glenmorangie expressions are put together. As well as a much better understanding of how different wood can affect spirit and a new found respect and love for a malt, that in recent years, I'd tended to overlook.
I think MC's represents really good value and always try to do one each day at WL. This year I'm going to the Dave broom one and the diageo one (I would have done Highland park, but did something similar in 2005).
Are you going to WL Glasgow next month? Do you think you'll go to a masterclass?
All the best
There's not much info on the website or the leaflet, so I wasn't entirely confident about whether it'll be a big waste of money. Now I'm very happy about it!
Yes FB, I'm planning to get to Glasgow and thinking about going to the Highland Park MC. But that's mostly cos of a lack of info about the others (eg. I assumed Diageo would just talk about their Classic Malts).
I kind of thought that it might be just like a distillery tour, condensed into a 15 minute talk. I'm now very happy that you've both assured me it's not!!
I've been to one of Gerry Tosh's Masterclasses (Gerry is Brand Ambassador for HP) and it was very good indeed. He's a very decent, down to earth, kinda guy, who is passionate about HP. It included a pretty slick presentation and was at the time of their new packaging launch last year.
Anyway, from memory it included the standard expressions through to the splendid 30yo (and the space beside me was empty so I got 2 of each).
The highlight was a great food combo halfway thro but I won't spoil the surprise. It worked so well.
Ach well, it will save me some money I guess!
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12, 18, 25 and 30 yr versions plus a runthrough of wood policy.
I've off to the An Cnoc class as I can afford some of the older versions of that.
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