On Saturday, November 19, me and my friends got up early and took the 9:15 train from Hamburg to Bremen to attend Bottle Market 2016 – one of Northern Germany’s most inviting and well-organized whisk(e)y fairs. Since we all had an absolute blast at the 2015 event, we had marked the date in our calenders months in advance. And just like last year, we again had a helluva good time in Bremen.
Upon our arrival in the exhibition hall, I handed my jacket in at the cloakroom, got my nosing glass from the info desk and went straight to Douglas Laing, who displayed their products at the booth of their German importer Bremer Spirituosen Contor. A lil’ whisky bird told me they were selling the Timorous Beastie 21yo – Sherry Edition at the fair and I wanted to secure mine before their stock was gone. Being such a fan of the wee beastie, I bought the bottle without even tasting it. This was not an option for the fine people operating the booth. So they instantly poured me a free dram of the “sherry mouse”. Ahh, was it good. Fruity, faceted, fabulous and a little bit feisty.
Later on, Douglas Laing’s Global Malt Ambassador Jan (whom I first met at the BorderShop Whisky Festival in Puttgarden) arrived. Remembering us from two weeks ago, he gave my girlfriend and me a supercool present: A mousepad and a cheeseboard sporting Timorous Beastie’s adorable mascot! Throughout the evening, we stopped by at Douglas Laing’s table many more times, talking to Jan and trying whiskies from the Remarkable Malts, Provenance and Old Particular lines. Both the company and the drams at the DL booth were absolutely top-notch!
Another great experience was hanging out at Mackmyra’s stand. There, I had very nice and interesting chats with Managing Director Angela Pulejo and Master Blender Angela D’Orazio. They gave a lot of insights into their Special and Moments ranges as well as their official Motörhead whisky and their new Vinterdröm. Since I had a cask strength Bunnahabhain from Whisky Warehouse No. 8 before, I asked for something strong enough to survive after this massive Islay malt. I got a fantastic single cask release called Klas (named after Nobel Prize winner Klas Pontus Arnoldsson), which was matured in Rotspon casks on Gut Basthorst near Hamburg. Especially in the finish, it had a very prominent red wine note.
Next, I headed over to McWhisky.com, who had at least two dozen Raw Cask whiskies from Blackadder in their repertory. Ever since I found out about these one-of-a-kind oldschool drams, I have been very intrigued to try them. They are bottled straight from the cask without any filtration and mechanical help, leaving little fragments of wood in the liquid. At the booth, I had one from the Peat Reak and one from the Red Snake series, and ended up buying the latter. As both kicked ass, I based my decision mainly on the fact that the Red Snake was quite a bit cheaper than the Peat Reak.
Furthermore, I enjoyed the stands of Alba Import (where I complemented Kilchoman’s Brand Manager Peter Wills on the outstanding quality of their peatbombs) and Whisky Experience (of whom I attended an “Islay & Islands” tasting a few weeks back). But that was not all, of course. With over fourty exhibitors present, Bottle Market had something to offer for everybody, no matter if they prefered Scottish whisky, Irish whiskey, American bourbon or other spirits such as rum, gin and brandy. And when you needed a little pause from dramming, all you had to do was go to the other half of the hall and stroll through the aisles of the neighbouring Christmas fair; the ticket for one automatically granted you entrance to the other.