The drive to Elgin was a slow one. Primarily because the ‘car’ I’d hired turned out to be an automatic Kia Picanto and, quite frankly, despite its go-kart like similarities, I genuinely believe I could’ve pedalled faster. I didn’t make too many new pals on the A9 last Saturday…
I was heading to Distilled , organised by the same team responsible for the Spirit of Speyside festival. This is a very different event, though, as it all takes place under one roof; the venue for its second year was Elgin Town Hall once again. The event took place over two days, with two sessions per day, using a token system, and, although there were plenty of whiskies to choose from, Distilled also showcased other food and drink producers from the region.
Without wishing to sound too ‘League of Gentlemen’ here, it was definitely a local event. Although I got chatting to a number of people, including fellow drammers Andrew and Sarah*, who had travelled there from further afield, I got the distinct impression that Distilled really had the backing from the local community which really added to the atmosphere.
It was busy enough but not in an ‘elbows out fight your way to the stand’ kind of way and it’s always great to have the opportunity to chat to those who actually work in the industry rather than hired event staff. After exchanging many a tweet, it was a pleasure to finally meet Glen Moray’s Graham and Fay Coull in person. A dram of Glen Moray 15 years was the perfect start to the evening and it was great to have the opportunity to try the appropriately named Mastery. A cracking whisky; the name says it all.
It was interesting to see the Benromach Triple Distilled being poured, two days before the embargo date on the press release email I’d received a couple of days beforehand. At the Gordon and MacPhail stand, I tried a Mortlach that I actually liked: a cask strength, 19 year old, bourbon cask matured whisky.
The Whisky Shop Dufftown had some superb drams on the counter, but the 25 year old Glentauchers was excellent. The Tormore 28 years was interesting in a different way. Had I tasted that one blind I would have said that it was significantly younger; for me, there was a real malty sweetness and absolutely none of the notes that appeared on the bottle!
There were a series of masterclasses to sign up to and the Diageo Special Releases Masterclass, hosted by Andrew Millsopp, was a cracker of a tasting with a stellar line up:
Dufftown 28 yrs – 52.8%
Cragganmore 25 yrs – 48%
Daluaine 34 yrs – 50.9%
Auchroisk 25 yrs – 51.2%
Cardhu 1991 Single Cask (Hogshead) – abv unknown and not a special release as such as it hasn’t actually been released at all!
My drams of Auchroisk and Cardhu came home with me as I felt that they needed more time than the tasting allowed so I’ll post notes on the site soon.
Maybe because this wasn’t uniquely about whisky, the one thing that was really apparent to me about Distilled was its diversity. With a fifty – fifty balance of young and old, men and women, it was just a very down to earth, easy going festival.
If I had to come up with something less effusive, I’d say it was maybe a bit too warm upstairs. But, really, that’d be the best I could do. All in all it was a superb, well organised event.