The London whisky calendar can often be divided into two seasons: the spring season and the autumn season – much like the fashion industry, obviously darlings.
The autumn tends to be characterised with The Whisky Exchange show in October, London Cocktail Week (in which whisky is often a feature) and many events surrounding them both. By November, I find myself exhausted, partied out and only desiring drams by fireplaces and a wee bit of quiet to placate my head.
This leaves me just enough time to rest up for the ‘spring’ season.
And, it being March, well…you can understand where we’re at just now.
March has – for the past three years for me – signalled the impending arrival of Whisky Live, the announcements of the winners of the World Whiskies Awards and Global Icons of Whisky and many a catch up with people in the industry from far and wide. This year, I’ll see myself stretching past the M25 and including in my calendar the Midlands Whisky Festival on the 29 March, where I’ll be talking whisky and chocolate. A true whisky month indeed.
But back to Whisky Live. Ahead of its start this Friday, I spoke with Ben Williamson, the head of commercial for Whisky Magazine, which puts on the show and awards, to get more details on what will be happening and what’s to look forward to.
Around 1,800 people will attend the Friday and Saturday shows at the Honourable Artillery Company and, he says, there are still a few remaining tickets for the Friday session, running from 5-10pm. More information on that here.
Outside of tasting whiskies, new to the show this year will be a world drinks room, showcasing rum, vodka, gin and brandy.
But if you cannot make it down to London, it is the award winners you’ll want to be paying attention to, as Ben explained to me.
“Connoisseurs can be assured that if a whisky wins, it is worthy of its award. As a result, for the distillers success in the World Whiskies Awards translates in to sales – it is not uncommon for award winning expressions to sell out within days of the results being announced.”
Additionally important are the Icons of Whisky awards, the sentiment for which sits close to my belief systems about the world of whisky.
“These celebrate the people, organisations and places that make the culture surrounding the liquid so vibrant and engaging. The Icons recognise the contributions made by those who create and sell whisky, alongside those who complete the whisky lovers’ experience by providing the opportunity to get up close and personal with the life of the liquid,” he said.
It is that passion behind whisky that too gets Ben excited about the awards and show.
“I am not aware of any other drink (or food) that inspires such a passionate following as whisky does, so to be at the heart of it is both a pleasure and a privilege,” he concluded.
Amen to that – here’s to Whisky Week and the ‘spring’ season. I look forward to seeing the new collections and catching up with many of you!