Sunday, 11 September 2011

Whisky and Song

Saturday September 10th meant Charlton had a home game against Exeter City. Usually I'm sat at home, computer on, headphones in and listening to the BBC Radio London commentary. Not this time. This time I was in the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool attending a Whisky Festival. I'm not a whisky fan, but Glenn is and sometimes you have to do something for a loved one.

Having arrived and signed in (and made sure we were on the masterclass list!) we made our way in to be confronted by Glenn's idea of heaven. Both sides of the room were lined with various companies offering samples and the far end appeared to be a shop of some sort.

The first stall Glenn made a bee-line for was Amrut which is an Indian distillery based in Bangalore. Amrut make 5 single malts, both peated and un-peated. Glenn was pleasantly surprised with his taster and pronounced it very good. The second new one was Kilchoman which is an Islay based distillery who are producing surprisingly good 3-4 year old whiskies. 

The last new distillery we saw was Cooley from Dublin in Ireland. They produce 4 single malts including 3 different wood finishes. Again Glenn was impressed and spent some time talking to the guys on the stand about their whisky. 

The most fun was had on the Talisker stand where they decided that once about 6 people were clustered around they would hold a mini masterclass which got louder and louder as the day when on. To my mind if you show enthusiasm for any subject then even someone with no previous interest will be hooked.

The final part of the afternoon was the masterclass. This was taken by Willie Tait, the master distiller at Fettercain Distillery. During this Willie explained how whisky was made and the differences between them. We also got to taste 3 whiskies from Jura, 2 from Dalmore and the Shackleton. My personal favourite was the King Alexander III from Jura. This whisky is aged in 6 different types of barrel and retails at approximately £150 a bottle! Suffice to say I think it may be a long time before I taste that one again.

The Shackleton had an interesting story behind the whisky. In 1907 Ernest Shackleton set out with a team to reach the South Pole. They failed and in making sure they could return home, left some of their supplies behind including a case of MacKinlays Highland Whisky. Fast forward to 2006 and a group of New Zealanders discover the case and allow Whyte & MacKay (the current MacKinlays owners) a few bottles. What they discovered was that the whisky was not a blend as they had thought, but a single malt. And Whyte & MacKay have reproduced this as far as they can. As no "recipe" for this remains, it's amazing that this can be done.

After the festival and dinner, we went to see We Will Rock You at the Empire Theatre. It's the first time I've seen this show and I have to say I enjoyed it. I was in my late teens when they were in their heyday and I have to admit I really wasn't a fan back then. Since then I've come to regret not seeing them live. And I've always wanted to do the clap along to We Will Rock You. And last night I did along with singing along to all the songs. For pure entertainment it's great fun and probably a must see if you're a Queen fan.

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