Guest Writer and drinking buddy, Andreas Mott.
There was a lot of talk about Whisky Fringe. ‘It’s gonna be amazing!’ people would say to me and ‘ best event of the year’. One problem though: It was sold out! It’s a bit like telling a child there is a toy shop across the road but it’s closed. Luckily some things are meant to be. I strolled into my local bar, the Albanach, and I was greeted by the cheerful face of Chris. He just happened to be on the phone to a fellow with a ticket. SOLD were my next words. A short conversation with said fellow and a deal was struck and tickets confirmed. We were going to Whisky Fringe!
Now, not only was it Whisky Fringe, it was also my 30th birthday. A night of partying was already on the cards. Whisky Fringe was going to be the perfect warm up.
For those that don’t know, the event is organised by Royal Mile Whiskies. Tickets are £20 which gives you a glass, £10 off voucher at Royal Mile Whiskies and access to a range of the finest whiskies from our favourite distillers and independent bottlers.
We met outside the Balmoral hotel and headed towards this awesome event.
We wandered towards the venue. It bore resemblance to a church, quite relevant as what we were about to enter was quite simply whisky heaven.
Glass in hand we entered the large hall, the walls and windows covered in breathtaking visions of apocalyptic and biblical scenes. Beneath these was a sea of distillers.
My biggest mistake, being a whisky festival novice, was I didn’t have a plan. No tactics, no clue, so I just wandered from stall to stall. I headed to a table which turned out be the Duncan Taylor stand. I had some of their Black Bull 12 year old and a cheeky wee drop of their 40yo. With a couple of drams in me, I focused on the task in hand. A direction had to be chosen.
I decided to focus on what I hadn’t tried and the things I potentially wanted to write about. 1st on my list was Edradour for their 1997 Chardonnay Finish and Glenmorangie for the Nectar D’or Sauternes (A wine cask article for the future) Next I sidled over to Douglas Laing as I had heard some noise about a Double Barrel combination of Macallan and Laphraoig and being a massive Laphraoig fan I needed to try it. I was to be disappointed, this particular dram did neither whisky a favour. It tasted very much like someone had dropped butter in a Laphroaig glass. I meandered my way around stopping off at Morrison Bowmore for a very pleasant Suntory Hibiky 17 blend before heading to the Compass box stand for a taster of Spice Tree.
I realise its turning into a list of my tastings so I’ll get back to the event itself and a bit about the atmosphere. What made this event so nice was that it was a good mixture of young and old alike. It was great to see a good number of young women partaking in a dram or two. I think this is important as we really need to get rid of the pipe and slipper image many young people have of whisky. People were friendly at this event, united by a passion for the amber liquid. Quite often an exchange of samples would occur and a discussion had, sometimes to agree that a particular whisky was exquisite and other times to complain about the swamp donkey that they had just consumed.
Overall, I would say this was a very well organised event with an excellent range of whiskies to sample. It was amazing value, when you consider that you are getting drams that can cost up to £30 in a bar, you get your glass and £10 off a bottle of whisky. Well done Royal Mile Whiskies and for those that haven’t been, get a ticket next year. You’ll love it.