Saturday, 14 January 2012

Pre-Whisky Fest Fun: Day 1

The Victoria Whisky Festival is only a five days away!  In anticipation of the best alcohol festival I have ever attended, I wanted to do daily posts leading up the event.  Included in this five day series of post will be whisky reviews, cocktails, and other helpful information related to the world of whisky.  For this first post I just wanted to give a preview of the weekend ahead for me.

Thursday - Jim Murry Tasting

Jim Murray, the most renown whisky connoisseur and reviewer, will guide the lucky 90 guests through the winners of the 2012 Whisky Bible.  If you don't have the 2012 Whisky Bible (which you should), the three top winners of the 2012 whisky awards were as followed:

  • 3rd: Paker's Heritage Collection Wheated Mash Bill Bourbon Aged 10 Years
  • 2nd: George T. Stagg
  • 1st: Old Pulteney 21 Year Old

I have never been to a master class hosted by Jim Murray, so to say I am excited would be a vast understatement.  Asides from the three top winners, a few of the whiskies I would love to see at the master class are the Hibiki 21 year old (Japanese Single Malt), and the Glendronach  Single Cask 1992.

Friday - Laphroaig Grand Tasting

If I were to choose my top three distilleries, Laphroaig would undoubtably be a contender for first place.  That is why the Laphroaig Grand Tasting on the Friday night is my most anticipated event of the weekend.  What I expect to be tasting from Laphroaig is the Quarter Cask, 10 Year Old, Triple Wood, Cairdeas, and lastly the 18 Year Old.  I'll cross my fingers that they'll have a 25 year old Cask Strength as well.

Saturday - Master Classes / VIP Tasting

Saturday is the zenith of the Victoria Whisky Fest.  A day full of master classes, followed by the grand tasting is results in a eventful day.

Master Classes

Gordon & MacPhail 
11:15 - 12:15

I have no experience with any bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail, but with their reputation for some of the best single malts in the world, I could not pass up this master class.  Along with Gordon & MacPhail's independent bottlings from various distilleries, they also own the Benromach distillery.  Winner of the best Single Malt ages 28-34 in the 2012 Whisky Bible with their 30 year old (95.5/100), Benromach is a distillery that has been gaining alot of popularity as of recently with an increasing amount of critical acclaim.  As much as I'd love to see one of the 70 year Old bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail, I'll be a bit less demanding and hope for the Benromach 30 Year Old

1:00 - 2:00

Waking up at 4:00 to get a good place in line for tickets definitely paid off.  Glenfarclas is another of my favorite distilleries, mainly due to their great quality to price ration.  After all, a 40 year single malt for only $412 is an absolute bargain!   Family run for generations, Glenfarclas is know for producing some of the best single malts in Speyside.  From what I've heard from others who have attended Glenfarclas master classes in the past, this one could potentially be the highlight of the weekend.

The Balvenie 
4:20 - 5:20

Only a stones throw away from the Glenfiddich distillery, The Balvenie is single malt that I have little experience with.  But with a recent increase in selection from The Balvenie here in BC (including the 15 Y.O. Single Cask, 17 Y.O. Peated Cask, 21 Y.O. Port Finish, and 30 Y.O.) I saw this master class as a "try before you buy" opportunity.

V.I.P. Grand Tasting
6:00 - 7:00

After three master class and a lot of whisky a handful of attendees -including my self- will have the opportunity to sample even more whisky.  One of the advantage to paying the extra cash for the V.I.P. tasting is having the chance to actually conversant with others, because once the general public rolls in, it's too crowded and far to load to be able to do so.  Also, the occasional table will have a special dram underneath the table, if you're lucky.

In addition to the Victoria Whisky Festival, Clive's Classic Lounge will be hosting "Clive's Whisky Week".  Included are seminars from Glenrothes, Highland Park, Macallan, and Marker's Mark.  As well as seminars, nightly whisky themes based on specific distilleries (Kitlling Ridge (Forty Creek), Buffalo Trace, and Ardbeg & Glenmorangie) will lay host to flights and cocktails based around some exceptional whiskies.

This Year's Victoria Whisky Festival is sure to be a great one.  I'll be on my best best behavior in ordered to report back with plenty of pictures, reviews, tasting notes and possibly, interviews.

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