On October 4th my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Whisky Show at The Whisky Exchange in London. We planned to arrive early to get in line for the event so we wouldn’t have to wait in the mad rush when the doors opened. Once we arrived we realized that I misread the start time. It started an hour later than I thought so we ended up near the front of the line and had an extra hour to get to know the people in front and behind us. We met people who had attended prior shows and seemed to know a lot about whisky and a few bloggers who were a lot of fun to get to know.
Once inside, we were presented with really cute etched stemmed whisky glasses to use during the tasting events and then to take home with us. The event was spread out over 4 huge rooms with representatives from over 80 distilleries in attendance. With exhibitors from England, Wales, U.S, Sweden, Japan and, of course, Scotland, the show displayed the entire range of whiskies by age, ingredients, maturation process and the like. Many rare and unusual whiskies that I cannot find at home were available to sample as well as some of the most expensive whiskies in the world.
The exhibition rooms were very pleasant since they were not jam packed with people. Attendees were not rushed or pushy. This enhanced the experience so we could interact with the exhibitors to learn about their offerings and sample them at our leisure. Everyone seemed to take their time to have fun and learn as much as they could. Representatives from the various distilleries seemed to be enjoying the event as well and tried very hard to share their passion for and knowledge of their products.
I tried to take notes during this experience but that ceased after two tastings because I could not hold a glass, a pen and my notebook, and walk, talk and think at the same time. All I can say is that most of the whiskies I really enjoyed and some of them were not my favorites due to my flavor preferences. I cannot say any of them were bad (somehow I suspect any “bad” ones would not have appeared at a top end show like this one). I learned a lot about whisky, how it is made, and how it is influenced by the ingredients, process, environment and every other tiny aspect that contribute to the end product. I learned that “smoke” and “peat” are independent variables in whisky. Previously I assumed they were interrelated so if a whisky were peaty, I would not like it. I discovered I do like peaty whisky; it is the smoke flavor I am not very fond of in my whisky.
Admission to the event included a lovely two-course whisky infused meal. All of the entrees and the desserts were prepared with a different whisky and were absolutely delicious. I had the Lamb Shoulder in Barley Broth that was made with Scallywag blended malt whisky and my husband had the Roast Pumpkin Lasagna prepared with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve whiskey. We selected the Sticky Toffee Pudding served with a cream sauce infused with Singleton of Dufftown Tailfire.
One of the highlights of the show was the opportunity to sample dream drams. These are tastings of very rare and expensive whiskies, many of which are no longer available on the market. For a mere $10 to $40, a taste of truly exquisite whiskies could be sampled. I have heard that tastes of some of them go for about $300! The dream dram we sampled was the amazing Glenmorangie Pride 1978, which retails for a mere $6000 per bottle! Believe me, it was really dreamy.
My husband and I had a fantastic time at this event and hope to being able to attend again in the future. For any dedicated whisky lovers, this is an event that is not to be missed!