In regard to its setting, line-up and atmosphere, the BorderShop Whisky Festival – which recently got rebranded as Whisky & Rom Festival – is unlike any other fair I ever visited. Last weekend, I went there for the third time. As always, I had an absolute blast strolling from booth to booth and trying all kinds of high-class sips. At a normal fair, I would probably buy one or two drams as “big” as Glenfarclas 30yo, Tullibardine 25yo or Grant’s 29yo Copper as the “crown jewels” of the day. But thanks to Whisky & Rom Festival’s extraordinary pricing policy, I could afford all of the above – plus many others of equal size and stature!
My first stop was the Edrington stand, where I said hi to their brand ambassador Dave Francis, whose highly recommendable masterclass I attended last year. Originally, I had planned to try The Macallan’s fabled Rare Cask Black once more, which left me deeply impressed when I first nipped it in September. Unfortunately, it was no longer available, so I picked the Enigma instead. This opulent single malt Scotch whisky was full-bodied and creamy with dark berries, cinnamon and nougat. It embodied the distillery’s heavy-yet-elegant house style in a most beautiful way. Another whisky that left me stunned was the King Alexander III by Dalmore. I absolutely loved this refined Highlander’s darkish tapestry of flavors, which contained cocoa beans, coffee ground, leather and a fleeting sherry influence. From down below, fruity apricot and strawberry notes pierced through. Kingly, for sure! Other highlights were the delicate Ballantine’s 30yo, the complex Laphroaig 28yo and the afore-mentioned Glenfarclas 30yo (all of which cost between 5 and 10 Euro per glass).
In the second half of the afternoon, I attended a free Bruichladdich tasting with Brand Academy Host & Distillery Ambassador Louise Conn. Originally hailing from the Highlands, the young woman moved to Islay a year ago to work for her favorite distillery. If she had not told us this before, I would never have guessed that she was still rather new to the Laddie family. She moderated the one-hour event in an entertaining, interesting and knowledgeable way. Not only did she fill us in on the distillery’s moved history and supportable cause, but also did she treat us to five super-good whiskies. Though I am quite fond of sherry and smoke, my personal favorite was neither the dark-as-dusk Bruichladdich 27yo nor one of the three Port Charlottes in the line-up. Don’t get me wrong, all of these bottlings were really damn great! But for me, the unpeated The Laddie Valinch 39 – which spent 14 years in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel – was the star of the degustation! With an ABV of almost 60 per cent, it was truly electrifying on the tongue! It offered toffee, vanilla and marzipan as well as pears, peaches and other sweet fruits. If they had it on sale at the fest, I would have bought a bottle straight away. As it was a “distillery exclusive”, however, me and the other guests had to make ourselves content with the complimentary dram that Louise had generously added to the tasting line-up as a surprise sip.
After the tasting, I was admittedly not sober anymore. While I still had three more killer drams (Glenfarclas 30yo, Laphroaig 28yo and Octomore 08.2), my notes got less and less detailed towards the end. So I am not gonna speak about any whiskies in particular anymore, but close my blog post with a recommendation: If you can make it to the peninsula of Fehmarn in the north-east of Germany in March or November (the Whisky & Rom Festival takes place twice a year), you should absolutely go there! For me, the BorderShop’s bi-annual whisky fest is an absolute must-do in the event calendar. And I am sure, most other visitors feel the same!
The line-up of the masterclass:
Bruichladdich 1990 (Single Malt / Islay/ 27yo / 49.5% / ~295.00 Euro)
Bruichladdich The Laddie Valinch 39 (Single Malt / Islay/ 14yo / 58.6% / ?? Euro)
Port Charlotte 10yo (Single Malt / Islay/ 10yo / 50% / ~60.00 Euro)
Port Charlotte MC:01 (Single Malt / Islay/ 8yo/ 57.8% / ~70.00 Euro)
Port Charlotte CC:01 (Single Malt / Islay/ 8yo / 56.3% / ~80.00 Euro)
BorderShop @ Web: http://www.puttgarden.border-shop.dk (Location)
BorderShop @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bordershop (Location)
Scandlines @ Web: https://www.scandlines.com (Organizer)
Bruichladdich @ Web: http://www.bruichladdich.com (Distillery)