At Whisky Live London this year I tried an extraordinary number of drams, caught up with some fantastic people and reveled in the whisky shenanigans.
It was also the place where three of us whisky sistahs (Whisky Girls founder, Allison Patel, and Whisky London founder, Cat Spencer) managed to get together in the same room for a cheers! As such, there were many a memory made that day.
My goal was to try only whiskies I’d not had a chance to drink before. So, here are my favourites from the fest:
The Glenlivet, 16 yo Nadurra: 57%
Aroma: I got the very odd hints of cinnamon and milk – a similar scent to hot milk with sugar and a cinnamon stick! Milk is not a smell I’d not noted before in a whisky, so I was intrigued! There was also a slightly biscuity note and aniseed.
Palate: A sugary sweetness like super-sweet Hershey’s chocolate, slightly oily and heavy in the mouth (due to the non-chill filtering) but with a teeny hint of citrus. A few drops of water cut the full-on mouthfeel and I preferred it that way. The Glenlivet team had paired each of their whiskies with chocolates and this was matched with a white chocolate, which worked beautifully. It was a vanilla burst on the palate.
This very special dram costs a whopping £250 a bottle so the festival was a great place to get my hands on some, since I won’t be buying a bottle any time soon. This version is matured only in ex-bourbon casks, is non-chill filtered.
Aroma: On the nose I got a salty-sweetness that leaned more towards the sweet side, an uncommon thing compared to other Old Pulteneys I’ve had. There were lemon citrus and slight chocolate present there too.
Palate: That nose of salty sea combined with soft sweetness continued for me on the palate. I found it to be quite light, though the company describes it as a full-bodied whisky, so maybe my tongue was numbing by this point!
Laphroaig, PX Cask: 48%
Currently only available in travel retail, this bottling from Laphroaig has been made from three types of finishes: American Oak, Quarter Cask and Pedro Ximenez Sherry. It’s the first from Laphroaig to use PX.
Aroma: Bam! This puppy hits you on the nose. Rich sherried fruits combined (for me) with notes of engine oil and the scent of my father’s wood workshop (not that you’ll know what that smells like, but think lots of sawdust, machines and a combination of dozens of different planks of wood).
Palate: A bursting, chewy, heavy wood whisky with peat, peat and more peat. I also got hints of cumin, oil and chewy marshmallows.
The Balvenie, Golden Cask Rum Finish, 14yo: 47.5%:
Originally bottled only for travel retail, it’s now available here. This was presented in a rather dramatic fashion (see above pics) when brand ambassadors Sam Simmons and Dr Andrew Forrester “highjacked” the CaskStrength event. Luckily, the excitement was followed by a delicious dram, finsihed in Caribbean rum casks.
Aroma: Sunshine in a bottle! If that’s possible. It was warm and inviting, slightly spicy with hints of crème brûlée.
Palate: Loads of tropical fruits flourished: pineapple, banana, mango. Add in flavours of vanilla ice cream and flambeed bananas soaked in caramel and honey and you have dessert in a bottle!
Glen Garioch, 1994, 17yo: 53.9%
My favourite of the festival. This was the first time I’d tried Glen Garioch and I absolutely fell for it.
Aroma: Soft whisper of peat, gentle heather and white sugar sweetness.
Palate: It was simply beautiful. That hint of smoke glides over your tongue at first, before the dram moves into a sugary sweetness, an element that’s heightened after you swallow. This is one of those whiskies I could sit back with for ages, sipping and mulling over.