I love how tight-knit and intimate the whisky community is! At this year’s Winter edition of the bi-annual Whisky & Rom Festival at BorderShop in Puttgarden, I got reminded of this several times. The first incident happened at the stand of Pernod Ricard. While I was checking out the bottles they had on offer, I heard a voice speaking to me: “Hey, do you remember me? I’m Sebastian. I hosted your tasting at The Macallan distillery last year“. I needed two seconds to sort my head, but once I had recognized him, Sebastian and I engaged in a nice chat about whisky in general and my last trip to The Macallan in particular. At that time, Sebastian had worked as a guide at the Speyside giant’s impressive new production site. Meanwhile, however, he has moved back to Denmark to start his studies. Since catching up is more fun with a good dram in the glass, Sebastian treated me to a sip of Glen Keith 25yo, which he called a personal favorite of his. I quickly understood why. This light, elegant and well-rounded Speysider was a real beauty!
Across the room at the Laddie booth, I bumped into another person I had already met before. As it turned out, Frazer – who was busy pouring the visitors of Whisky & Rom Festival a lotta glasses of Octomore – was the same guy who poured me and my girlfriend Nadine a lotta glasses of Octomore when we popped in on Bruichladdich Distillery in 2017. Back then, Frazer and I quickly connected over our common interest in football. After all, our teams Rangers and HSV share a long “fan freundschaft” and Frazer had just been back from a trip to Hamburg, where he and his mates visited HSV’s home ground Volksparkstadion. After discussing our teams’ performances in the ongoing 2019/2020 season, we continued with our other shared passion: drinking Octomore. At the BorderShop, I had both the new Octomore 10.2 (8yo, 96.6ppm, 56.9 per cent) and Octomore 10.3 (6yo, 114ppm, 61.3 per cent). Killer stuff, as usual from this distillery and brand!
At the stands of Ian Macleod Distillers and Distell Group, I also had really nice discussions over pretty tasty drams – in these cases, however, I had not met my conversation partners before. While hanging out at Ian Macleaod’s, I met Glengoyne’s Whisky Experiental Ambassador Gordon Dallas, with whom I spoke about my trip to the distillery two years ago and my recent tasting with his colleague Kenny Macdonald. In return, Gordon showed me pictures from his latest trip to Spain, where he visited the sherry bodega from which Glengoyne receives its casks. Fittingly, I sipped the sweet and fruity Glengoyne PX in parallel to our talk. From Distell Group I tried the brand-new Bain’s 18yo PX Finish, a rich and refined drop from South Africa that did not taste like a typical grain to me. Brian Houston, who usually works at Deanston Distillery, told me why: Whereas the vast majority of grains out there has originally been made for blending, Bain’s is 100 per cent designed to be drunken as it is. Sure, they do also make grain for blends at James Sedgwick Distillery. But they use an entirely different recipe for that.
Other noteworthy sips I had during my full-day visit to BorderShop were the breath-taking Benriach 19yo Triple Distilled, the beautiful Royal Salute 29yo PX, the full-bodied Macallan Enigma and the fabled Caperdonich 18yo Peated (coming from Pernod Ricard’s ghost distillery in Speyside that got mothballed in 2002). In true BorderShop fashion, the prices for these whiskies were quite unbelievable: None of them cost more than six Euro for a 2 to 3cl dram. So if you are looking for a fantastic whisky weekend packed with great drops, folks, talks and moments, BorderShop is the place to be and Whisky & Rom Festival the event to take part in! The next installment takes place on March 27 to 29, 2020. See you there!