zondag 27 oktober 2013

Whisky Xperience 20 October, de Meern, the Netherlands

Whisky Xperience is a series of whiskytastings throughout the country, powered by one of the largest drinks retailers in the Netherlands, Mitra.
Two things are good about these local tastings: they provide an excellent opportunity for the starting whisky connoisseur to explore new varieties and, very important in Holland, you can get there on your bicycle...

For the more experienced whiskydrinker there's a masterclass to enlarge the whisky knowledge.
Some new bottlings can also be tasted like the Bruichladdich Scottish Barley. We tried it and it's got the typical warm, malty Bruichladdich style with that hint of mint.

Allthough we thought upfront that this would be a quite straightforward pour-and-drink event it proved to be much more, as you can see in the videoreport we made.
Whisky-related clothes, Scottish food and beverages (Irn-Bru), books and our friends from Whiskyetc magazine were there.
So we left the Xperience with a great pair of Highland Park cufflings and a 1000 page book by Dominic Roskrow (1001 whiskies you must try before you die).

All in all a well spent afternoon and we sure will be there next time.

vrijdag 25 oktober 2013

Whisky and Rum at Sea, IJmuiden, Netherlands, 19th October 2013

When you take the ferry from Newcastle, England across the North Sea to the Netherlands, you disembark in IJmuiden.
IJmuiden is a small harbour city, on the westside of Amsterdam.
It's (Dutch) fame derives from the big steel factory, now owned bij Tata. The steel factory can be seen from far away.
IJmuiden also has a yearly Whisky and Rum festival, located directly near the sea.
The festival is organised by 'Slijterij en Wijnhuis Zeewijck'.

Here you can watch the videoreport we made.

A few facts make this festival different to other festivals.
First there's the strong accent on rum. During this festival the Dutch Rum Awards are presented.

Secondly the festival has a few distinguished guests, namely the Cuban Ambassador to the Kingdom of the
Netherlands Ms. Zelmys María Domínguez Cortina, the Mayor of Velsen (the municipality that includes IJmuiden)mr Franc Weerwind who is accompanied by the deputy mayor Arjen Verkaik.
Great thing is that they stayed at the festival after the official part and took time the visit several stalls and brands

(Brand toolkit of The Macallan)

During this festival you can taste different kind of rum and whisky, but there a nice variety of food as well. Dutch law sadly prohibits the sale of alcohol in bottles but fortunately you can spend your money on other stuff. For example you will find the people of Verspuy Interieur, who sell some nice whisky related gadgets, like the whiskychair (as seen in the video).
There's whisky writer Hans Offringa with his wife Becky, with his wide range of books, that he is happy to sign for you. Or a nice (cuban) cigar you can smoke on the adjacent terrace.

The festival takes place on the top floor of the Holiday in. So after the afternoon session you can take a long walk on the beach and if you visit the evening session you can take the elevator straight to your room.

Check out the website for next year's edition of the festival (11th October), it's worth a visit.

©Whiskytips 2013

donderdag 10 oktober 2013

Potstill Festival Amersfoort, the Netherlands 4-6 October 2013

For the 11th time in a row, Dutch whisky drinks company Van Wees organised the Potstill Festival in Amersfoort, right in the heart of the Netherlands.
Just last June we celebrated the 50th anniversary of mr Han van Wees in the whisky business. You can read our blog about that event here.
Whiskytips was @ the Potstill do make a video report, as we did on two previous occasions.

Nice element in this festival is the combination of Scotch whisky, whisk(e)y from other countries, bourbon, rye and other distillates, like armagnac, calavados and jenever.
First year we went, we only concentrated on nosing and tasting whisky, which is basically a shame, because you're missing out on a lot of other nice flavours and experiences.

This year's edition also had a special limited festival bottling, a 10 YO Glenfarclas, that will become a collectable in the near future for sure. And if not, it's a great dram, we tried it.

Another nice aspect of the festival is the Treasure room. For €20 extra you get the chance to taste rare, often independent bottlings, that are long gone in most cases. What to think about a Rosebank of Macduff 1969? A good deal we think.

Meanwhile moviemaker Gwen Jansen was filming for her upcoming documentary "Nederland Whiskyland", that covers all aspects of the whisky scene in the Netherlands, with its festivals, clubs, restaurants, shops etc. It is a crowfunded documentary and everyone can particpate in this unique film. Just check www.nederlandwhiskyland.nl. (It's in Dutch, but Google will help)

Whiskywriter Robin Brilleman was there to sign his book. In the Netherlands law prohibits the sale of alcohol during events like these (how we envie our more liberal neighbour countries), but you can sell books, so luckily there was some money to be spent.
The Potstill Festival has good connections to some of the brands (not surprisingly also imported by Van Wees), which gives room to new introductions or at least the news about it.
This way we could learn that Arran will be releasing a limited Milennium Cask Bottling and Benromach will do another Sassicaia Finish soon. We can't wait!
Right after the afternoon session people rushed to the retail store of Van Wees in Amersfoort to get a bottle of whisky they just tasted.
A short impression can be found here.

Our winner of the festival was the Balmenach 1988 24 YO, cask 2794 bottled by Signatory at cask strength.
The bottle should retail for around €85-€90.
Our happiness was even greater when we found out that Van Wees have bottled a second cask of Balmenach, cask 2795 (also cask strength), for roughly the same price, in their own range, the Ultimate.
The warm flavours just keep popping up and you're used to winter time straight away.

Concluding remarks: great festival, lots of different drinks to be tasted, gives the opportunity to look beyond your whiskyfrontiers and sharpen yer tastebuds, not too big and commercial; let's hope it will stay that way. See you at the 12th edition next year and look out for the Wallace tartan.

©Whiskytips 2013