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Blog by Paul McLean on Home of Whisky Festival 2017

 

 

Home of Whisky Festival,  Salutation Hotel, Perth, Saturday, 19th August 2017, 1.00pm - 5.30pm

 

Exel Wines once again hosted the popular Home of Whisky Festival in Perth.  The 2017 Festival started at 1pm with a welcome from Willie Wilson, Depute Provost (Mayor) of Perth. “C’mon Willie, wanting a dram here!”

 

Now then, having known the nice people at Exel for some years, Liz and myself did receive some extra guidance this year – well that’s our secret eh! There was a great selection of whiskies to try from a grand bunch of exhibitors.  Guests were given 10 tokens in total (plus a complimentary dram on arrival of Old Perth) but sadly no option to buy more. There were 2 masterclasses hosted by Tomatin Distillery and Bruichladdich Distillery.  The Tomatin hosted by another old contact, Ali – who provided taste-bud ticklers with whisky-based cocktails. There were 5 whiskies– Tomatin 12 Year Old, Tomatin 14 Year Old, Tomatin 18 Year Old and two mystery malts – I have no idea what they are!   The Brooch masterclass were 5 whiskies tasted –Classic Laddie, Islay Barley, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, Port Charlotte Islay Barley, Octomore 6.1, Liz almost hit the roof at the last one!

 

List of exhibitors: Benriach, GlenDronach, Glenglassaugh, The Glenturret, Bruichladdich, Douglas Laing & Co, Compass Box, Morrison & Mackay, Fraiser, Tomatin, Gordon & MacPhail, Wemyss Malts, Ian MacLeod Distillers, Murray McDavid, Indie Brands, Glenfarclas, Kilchoman.  There were crackers for people to munch on as they tasted the whiskies as well as jugs of water.  All the stock for sale at the pop-up shop was at special prices for the day of the festival.  There was also a tear-off voucher on the back of the brochure that could be used when buying whisky in the shop during September.

 

The Glenturret Range Scotland’s oldest working distillery focuses on profiling the taste of the malt, three tastes to choose from, Sherry, Triple Wood and Peated.  Here is where I got confused; Triple Wood - a combination of American sherry oak, European sherry oak and American bourbon oak casks have been used to create the distinct oaky flavour. Yet with all that sherry … a mix of orange peel, vanilla and peardrops (sweeties fae schooldays) with a taste of cedarwood, cinnamon, marzipan and a hint of coconut – so where is the oaky taste? Answers on a post card please to Paul.

 

Of course there were many people “behind the tables” we knew well, having been in this whisky industry selling whisky tours for over 21 years.  It was nice meeting up again, specially Jacque (Wemyss whiskies) who we also met in Oban, Helsinki and others! That girl moves about. Ali from Tomatin and Jan – a timerous beasties of a man. It was busy on Saturday, not too busy like some we have attended (one comes to mind where punters were 5 deep waiting for a dram) but just about right.  I was fortunate to see the programme before the event, and a good job of this was made, not all festivals do this. Before the event – well 4 days before actually, I had been tasting in the shop and aye, went home with two Perth pals, Old Perth bottles – ha! The 21 year old was not available at the show, am chuffed with this as I have one.  It’s no often I get my hands on a 21 year old these days. Dianne Wilkie, Director of Exel Wines told me, ‘We first hosted the Home of Whisky Festival in the Salutation Hotel in 2014 (I was there at that too!), and it is a privilege for us to be able to bring the event back to this venue again this year. Perth has long had a love affair with the ‘water of life’ and the Home of Whisky Festival is a great way to celebrate this by not only raising awareness of the whisky-making heritage of Perthshire, but also throughout Scotland, giving those attended an opportunity to sample some of the best whisky Scotland has to offer and learn more about whisky production and distribution across the globe.’  Can I just mention the girls at the shop, ever charming, knowledgeable and reliable; these two are great fun and classed friends of mine.

 

Established in 2009, Exel Wines have gone from strength-to-strength over the years to become one of the UK’s largest online retailers of wine, whisky, craft beer and spirits. With a shop on 47 South Street, it is also Perth’s best whisky retailer offering wine and whisky enthusiast a treasure trove of delights, including many rare and collectable bottles. I know this for sure, I have shopped and come out many times with more than one bottle.  They also offer superb tasting nights, with a limited audience, enabling much serious dramming without a crowd, hosted by experts too! So the moral of this story is – get along to Exel shop, festival events or the tastings, or like me, all!