I also got to sample the HP 40 which made the whole trip from the far north well worth it. I've just arrived home and am a bit tired so will post more, once I've had a chance to catch up on some sleep.
For my money, this show was well worth attending ...and the visit to Summerhill next morning was the icing on the cake.
I also picked up a discounted subscription to Whisky magazine which is how I wound up here, so hello everyone and I hope you had as good a time as I did at Toronto Whiskylive!
I had a very good time at the 2008 Toronto Whisky Live. I had purchased the VIP ticket, but after a busy day at work and unable to leave earlier than I had hoped, I ended up making a mad dash to the event. I arrived around 6:25 pm and headed directly to my first Masterclass.
I couldn't imagine a better way to launch the festival than with Mr. Master Class himself - Richard Paterson. His session was titled, Whyte & Mackay - Experience the Scotch that Scots Drink! The evening flight was: Whyte & Mackay 13 yo, 22 yo; Isle of Jura Superstition; Dalmore 15 yo and Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III. The latter whisky (at 43%abv) was very expressive. It awashed my palate with notes of vanilla, cinammon and licorice which rolled into a longish finish. Quoting the programme, "the malt is aged in a variety of wine casks" with the likes of Oloroso and Madeira, Port and Marsala, Cabernet Sauvignon and not too far off the beaten path, Bourbon casks. This bottling will probably never be available at the LCBO, so it was a treat to sample it. At the end of the masterclass, Richard received a well deserved standing ovation and no one seemed to leave the room in a hurry. Mr. Paterson's book launch of, Goodness Nose - The Passionate Revelations of a Scotch Whisky Master Blender, co author Gavin D. Smith, will take place this week in Glasgow. I can't wait to order my copy.
I had some time before my next masterclass, so I headed into the large common room where the whisky exhibits were on display. This is where I met up with forum members Muskie P. and Peter A. It is always a good feeling seeing familiar faces in a crowded room. It was also a wonderful chance to share some time together. Muskie had traveled South with another whisky enthusiast. I couldn't have asked for better company than hanging out with the two of them through the course of the night.
The first whisky that was poured into the complimentary Glencairn whisky glass was John Hall's new release, the Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve - Ltd. Release of 10,200 bottles. This was my second time sampling the dram, but it meant more to me this time around because it was in the prescence of its' creator. Months ago, I had special ordered three bottles which two I had individually numbered based on my children's birthday. I really enjoy Forty Creek Whisky and the thought that this was an intense taste version of the standard bottling was too good to pass up. It definitely has lived up to my expectations. I have mislaid my notes, but will add them in later.
Another highlight was meeting Simon Brooking, Master Brand Ambassador for Laphroaig. The LCBO sadly under represents the range of Laphroaig expressions that are available from this fantastic distillery. I don't think it was news to Simon, but it felt good to tell him this! I told Simon about the amazing Laphroaig tasting that Lawrence had hosted when he was in town last May. He was really delighted by the story.
Before I knew it, it was time to head out to my second and final masterclass titled, Highland Park - A Lifetime in the Making. The session was lead by personable Canadian HP Brand Ambassador, Marc Laverdiere. Muskie and Bruce had also registered for this session, so it was nice to have the company. I was looking forward to this class because of the opportunity to sample the Highland Park 40 yo. It was a lively class with questions constantly being fielded from the participants who in return were given copies of the JM Whisky Bible 2008. I found the HP 40 nose quite floral, but my notes ended there! I know I thought it was lovely, but I wished that I could have taken the sample with me to appreciate in the quiet of my home!!
There wasn't much time to spare after the HP Masterclass was dismissed. But it did give me the chance to make a couple of circles around the room to check out some of the other booths before calling it a night. It felt fitting that Peter A. was the first friend I met and the last one I said goodnight to!
Maybe Muskie will fill everyone in on our get together the following day at a local pub....
What did Musky score during and after Whisky Live Toronto?
The Macallan masterclass gave out the 6 pack tasting kit to share with two buddies;
A Blackadder Lochnagar 13 yo raw cask
A 4 pack of the Glenmo samples
Arran 10 yo (been waiting 12 years for this 'un)
Glenfarcli Cask 105
40 Creek Double Barrel Reserve bottle # 01566
Now what did Musky DO in T.O.?
I scoped out the venue earlier in the day, good thing too, it was a fair walk from the attached hotel to the venue (all inside) and down at least 4 sets of escalators. All I could think was "How do 'they' expect a bunch of drunks to get back up to the surface from down here?" We were back for 4 pm and after a slight delay, in we went.
We started with getting our WL glasses engraved with our names, somewhere along the line I put mine down and picked up somebody else'! Our first stop was 40 Creek to speak with John Hall (no relation) and have a free dram of his newest offering the Double Barrel Reserve. I bought one after, so it was very very good and a great dram to start off with. Next was The Balvenie for a sample of the 18 yo, nice to "meet " an old liquid acquaintance. Followed up with Macallan, Glenfarclas and gave Dewars' a miss despite the attendant sweet young things in far too short mini kilts!
We also visited Laphroaig and Simon(a couple of times) the second was to try some new make Lappy which was squirreled away in back and a sample of the Ardmore which is only sold at the distillery (which was hidden in a "wellie" in the Laphroaig display). By this point Wendy had hooked up and we all benefitted from our good fortune.
We also visited Mark Laverdiere at Highland Park, an absolutely delightful fellow who I'd dram with in a heartbeat. Morrison Bowmore and The Glenlivet next, where we had a delightful chat with one of the fellows there manning the booth. Isle of Arran distillers had a fine selection as did Glenrothes however, Premium Bottlers' booth had on display a series of yet unreleased offerings from little seen distilleries over here, that they wouldn'a offer a dram of despite my best pleadings. Glenmorangie was another stop where we discussed the pros and cons on the renaming of products.
ViaAllegro had a blind tasting that my buddy partook of but I was being a bit selective by this point as I was saving myself for a crack at the HP 40 yo.
After wandering the stands, we went to the Macallan master class for a presentation on woods and their effect by a very young but knowledgeable fellow, Craig Johnstone. We got to sample the 10 FO, the 12, 15, 18, 25 ( I think - it was a bit fuzzy sometimes) and then when we finished were given a sampling pack pictured above, along with nosing and tasting notes.
We went back to the main hall and found the food lineup far too long so went cruising for more drams and discussions. We were a minute or two late for the HP MC and had to finangle our way in. Once we were in and seated, we noticed that two of our glasses were missing. The fellows beside us had tried to scoop them. I got them back quite easily and it turns out it was a good thing I did - they were the fabled 40 yo HP!
The presenter, Marc, was very knowledgeable and quite a humourist, being able to deal with any "clever" remarks in a polite but delightfully devastating way. After the class, two fellows from Toronto, we'd met at several of the booths came in and were talking to Bruce, who gave them a taste of his 40 yo HP. The one fellow said he had to have one, and then bought one at the LCBO kiosk!
How much you ask? $1,999.00 Canadian. They then all went back to the HP booth for another sample of the still open 40 yo from the Masterclass!
Oh, I met up with Damian and introduced myself and the connection Christian and I had to the live tastings. I also said how pleased I was to be able to sit down and sample the same dram with someone half a world away in real time, courtesy of the WM Forums.
As things were winding down, I went off to have supper at Franz' - a 1950s style diner on Bloor.
Next morning we got a tour of Summerhill (an old refurbished CNR station) and then were treated to some samples of $200 and $300 bottles of SM. Wow! I certainly picked the right guy to travel with!
We went up the street for brunch at a pub where we hooked up with Wendy and Frodo. Later we adjourned to the upstairs bar for more drinks and fellowship. Did I mention that I wasn't sober for several days?
Did I have a good time? Oh yeah. What did I expect and did it live up to my expectations? I've attended train conventions here, in the UK and the USA so had an expectation of what I'd be seeing and it was as I'd expected. Booths with people dispensing drams and sales pitches in a pleasant and knowledgeable manner.
It was very good and I also have to admit that coming in at 4 pm was a real smart thing to do. We could wander through the venue, glass in hand, stopping wherever we wanted to chat and dram as we saw fit. When we got back from the Macallan MC, it was after 7 pm and the place was packed! It was pretty tough sledding to get through to the booths, but with the pair of us at 6'3", we had little difficulty getting around. Wendy was able to eddy along in our wake.
Would I go back, yes! but first I'd like to experience the Victoria festival in January some year just to see what a weekend venue is like. It was a good time but would have been a bit daunting for a first timer alone. You really do have to go with a buddy who enjoys the nectar as much as you do.
Lawschooldrunk wrote:how does it work at conventions? is there one flat fee to gain entrance or do you have to pay for each sample dram? how about the master classes?
There is a flat fee to enter the Whisky Live function which includes a WhiskyLive glass, a WL bag containing a venue show guide, some free stuff and some vouchers (I received 6). Toronto cost $90.00 for the VIP starting at 4 pm and for regular entry at 7 pm was $60.00. The 4 pm start was worth the extra $30 in my humble opinion.
Generally the rule of thumb is one voucher for unaged whiskies up to and including 12 yo.; 2 vouchers for 13 years and older; with some rare whiskies requiring another voucher. More vouchers can be purchased at the Whisky Magazine counter, where they were also giving away the latest WM, before I got mine in the mail!.
The Master classes were $25.00 each in Toronto, over and above the entry fee and I chose to attend two so I'd have enough time to enjoy Whisky Live proper and not just run (okay, stroll) from one Masterclass to the next.
I hope you are well and sorry for the delayed reply. Thank you for your comment; I am glad you enjoyed my report.
Muskie, I also enjoyed reading your report. I am glad that you had a great time attending your first whisky festival...you should try to save your pennies for Victoria!!
All the best,
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