Awards & Events

Live and kicking

Marcin Miller evaluates the inaugural Whisky Magazine Live and comes to the conclusion that if you missed it, you missed out
By Marcin Miller
Finally, the dust has settled. All the hours of preparation that went into Whisky Magazine Live paid off as approximately 400 visitors attended the inaugural event at The Churchill Inter-Continental Hotel in London’s Portman Square. The event was solely about tasting and appreciating whisky. The exhibition was held in two rooms, hosted by Michael Jackson and Charles MacLean respectively, that had ten differing exhibitor stands in each. Upon registration, visitors were given a hand-made crystal Whisky Magazine tasting glass produced by Glencairn Crystal and a map of the two rooms (The Chartwell Suite and Clementine’s) so they could plan which stands to visit first. They could then set off fully armed for a truly unique tasting experience.The best ways to learn more about whisky is undoubtedly to taste and talk to like-minded individuals. So, for an unrivalled educational experience, we provided the opportunity for visitors to do just that by assembling an impressive number of Master Blenders, Master Distillers, Distillery Managers and Brand Ambassadors who were available to talk about their whiskies and whiskeys. There was ample space and time to chat informally with the whisk(e)y-makers about their various products and they were more than happy to guide you through a range of drams.Amongst those present were Jim Cryle (The Glenlivet), David Hardie (Dalwhinnie), Elmer T. Lee (Buffalo Trace), Dr Bill Lumsden (Glenmorangie plc), Richard Paterson (JBB), David Quinn (Jameson), Alistair Robertson (Talisker), Colin Scott (Chivas Regal) and Julian Van Winkle (Van Winkle). An extensive programme of Masterclasses was put together to give visitors the opportunity for a more in-depth examination of a particular range of whiskies: this was very well received and more can be read about them on pages 30 to 32. At the end of the event visitors left with an excellent and valuable bag of goodies containing half a dozen miniatures, Whyte & Mackay pens, Chivas Regal lighters and, if that wasn’t enough, they were also given a box for their trusty Whisky Magazine tasting glass. The bottom line is that it was a great event: if you didn’t manage to get there you missed a real treat. Be careful not to make the same mistake next year because, thanks to the success of the event, it is destined to become an annual fixture in the whisky calendar. We look forward to seeing you at Whisky Magazine Live 2002 on March 8th and 9th next year. A good majority of the exhibitors have already pledged their support for next year and we will keep you posted regarding all exhibitors and their whiskies.Our thanks go to everyone who attended the show and, of course, to all the exhibitors:
Brown-Forman (Woodford Reserve), Buffalo Trace (Buffalo Trace, Benchmark 8 and W L Weller), Burn Stewart (Tobermory, Ledaig and Deanston), Campbell Distillers (Aberlour and Edradour), Compass Box (Hedonism and Asyla), Cutty Sark International (Cutty Sark, Glengoyne and Glenrothes), Glenmorangie plc (Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Glen Moray), Gordon & MacPhail (Benromach, Glenturret and Connoisseur’s Choice), William Grant & Sons (Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Grant’s Reserve), Highland Distillers (The Macallan, Highland Park and The Famous Grouse), JBB Greater Europe (The Dalmore, Isle of Jura and Whyte & Mackay) Douglas Laing (The Old Malt Cask, McGibbons Provenence), Morrison Bowmore (Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch), Murray McDavid (Bruichladdich and Murray McDavid), PR Brands (Jameson, Black Bush and Bushmills), Seagram (Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet), Speyside Distillery (Speyside and Scott's Selection), J & A Mitchell (Springbank, Longrow and Cadenhead), UDV (The Classic Malts), Van Winkle (Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Family Reserve and Special Reserve).And finally, our thanks must also go to the sponsors of the event: Highland Spring for the supply of all bottled water, Chiltern Hills Water Coolers, Glencairn Crsytal Company for supplying the Whisky Magazine glasses, Andrew Parkes for supplying glasses for the Masterclasses and Walker’s Shortbread for the palate cleansing oatcakes and finally to the staff and management of The Churchill Inter-Continental Hotel.Here’s to next year and another successful Whisky Magazine Live. Looking forward to seeing you there.Ken Busbridge,
Hatfield, UK (right):
“It’s been brilliant, but I’m afraid I’m far too merry! Today has confirmed the fact that Aberlour is my favourite, I’ve sampled the many expressions on offer here. Cutty Sark is definitely my next port of call.”
Adam Thompson,
Welwyn Garden City, UK (left):
“It’s a pretty good show, I like the way it’s laid out. For me the Jameson’s stand has been the best – I like smooth, sweet whiskies – but I’m going around and trying to sample other things as well. I’d definitely go again if another event is held.”
Jenny Harrison, Hemel Hempstead, UK:
“This has been a wonderful opportunity to try different whiskies. We’ve been to similar wine events and it compares well even though it is on a smaller scale. However, there’s more special products and it’s good that you can take time talking to exhibitors whereas wine exhibitors have less time.”Mr R. Brown, Luton, UK:
“It’s been a good event. I attended the Springbank Masterclass: it was excellent and well presented. The Springbank Port Cask [a sample of a Springbank matured in a Port cask for 5 years was tasted by attendees at the Springbank Masterclass] which I sampled was beautifully crafted. An excellent whisky at a super event.”Steven Sekely, London, UK:
“Fabulous. I’ve learnt a lot. It’s interesting to try an Ardbeg from the distillers themselves and then from two different independent bottlers. That’s very intriguing, literally three variations on a single theme. I enjoyed Van Winkle, crazy name but a fabulous, premium product. I’ve gone overboard for the 25-year-old cask strength Highland Park. It’s been an incredible chance to taste things you’d never be able to afford or even consider buying.”Marie-Claire Sekely, London, UK:
“On the whole, the day has been very exciting. There’s so much variety and I’ve learnt a lot about whiskies. I’ve met some very interesting people and there has been a notable camaraderie between visitors and the exhibitors.”The pilgrimageTony Abou-Ganim (above), Master Mixologist, is in charge of the bar activity at Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bellagio is a casino and hotel complex that has 3,000 rooms and 29 bars, which serve 30,000 alcoholic beverages a day. Bellagio has an extensive whisky portfolio throughout its bars and restaurants, including an eclectic mix of Scotch. Tony has embarked on a whisky fact-finding pilgrimage to Britain which is based around Whisky Magazine Live – his tour takes in Scotland and Ireland as well.“I designed my trip around Whisky Live. I oversee 150 bartenders, 50 trainees and 50 porters. We’ve implemented a philosophy and a programme that is founded on the profession of bartending – it’s not enough for someone to come in for a malt and not get an appreciation of Scotch in return. We want to give the profession back its respect. “The crux of our programme is education. We’ve done in-depth training in all spirit categories, we’ve a single malt Scotch society with 35 members and they go through classes and seminars and take a final exam to join the society. And there’s an American whisky group with similar examinations: the top scorer went to Kentucky for the festival. “I’ve come to Whisky Live to widen my appreciation. This seemed a good opportunity to learn more with Michael Jackson, Charles MacLean and Whisky Magazine.“This is a great opportunity to sample great whiskies, it’s a treat to see American whiskies and talk to knowledgeable people about individual products – I talked to Michael Jackson and Elmer T Lee and it was great to be in their company.”