Awards & Events

The Gathering

As Jim Morrison nearly put it in the film Wayne's World, if you book them they will come. So that's what a group of whisky nuts in The Netherlands have done. Dominic Roskrow reports...
By Dominic Roskrow
Whisky is to get its own music festival style outdoor event this Autumn when Maltstock is hits in The Netherlands.Whisky clubs from around the world have been invited to attend a weekend gathering at Overasselt, near Nijmegen, during the weekend of September 4th to 6th, and early indicators suggest hundreds of malt lovers will make the journey.The site, close to the German border and in easy reach of the main cities of The Netherlands and Belgium, has dormitory accommodation, space for cars and camping, and is close to several hotels. And organisers are hoping to bring large numbers of likeminded people together to discuss all things whisky and to share a drop or two of their favourite drams.The event is organised by Teun Van Wel and Bob Wenting, founder members of the small Dutch whisky club The Bruichladdies.They formed the club after buying a cask from the distillery, and the idea for Maltstock came from attending festivals and events and meeting other club members.The plan is simply to provide an environment where whisky clubs can meet at leisure and share their experiences, and to put the emphasis on the clubs rather than the drinks companies, as is the case with most whisky events.Nevertheless the idea has been embraced by some top whisky names and among the attendees will be Bruichladdich’s Jim McEwan, Stuart Nickerson from Glenglassaugh, and representatives from Compass Box and the BenRiach Distillery Company. Also attending will be the leading Dutch whisky importers representing several independent bottlers, top professor and soon to be whisky author Ab Dijksterhuis, whisky writer Robin Brilleman and master cooper Gary Taylor.“But we stress that this is not the normal style of whisky festival,” says Teun Van Wel.“It’s terrific that great distillery people and independent bottlers will be there but this is not about distillers lining up and pouring samples. It’s about club members bringing whisky and meeting in a relaxed atmosphere.“When you go to festivals you meet people but you only get to speak to them for a few minutes before rushing off to find your next whisky. This will be about having time for club members to meet each other and not have to rush off.” The site includes a wooded area with a big campfire area and a small stage, and musicians are being encouraged to come along and play. As well as accommodation there will be food and other drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, available.As Jim Morrison nearly put it in the film Wayne’s World,if you book them they will come. So that’s what a group of whisky nuts in The Netherlands have done. Dominic Roskrowreports The Gathering In all 345 different clubs have been invited to attend and organisers expect most of the visitors to be from mainland Europe, although one club in Australia has already announced that it intends to come.Organisers hope that the location will help guarantee a good attendance. The site is close to several airports, including Dusseldorf-Weeze, which is a major centre for Ryanair, and Eindhoven, both of which are less than an hour away. Nijmegen has a train station and bus services run to the site, and it can be reached easily by road.The cost for the weekend is currently e150 and this includes two nights’ accommodation, a simple dinner on Friday, a barbecue on Saturday, a late night snack, and breakfasts each morning. In true hippy festival style, organisers say that if enough people sign up the cost will come down, and if the event attracts sponsorship the cost may be scrapped altogether. They stress Maltstock is not a commercial event.“Anyone who is looking for a weekend of whisky fun is invited, no matter how small their club or what age they are,” says van Wel. “This is not about making money. It’s provided by whisky lovers for whisky lovers. And any help we can get with sponsoring, not just with money but with glasses, food or music, would be great.” Full details about Maltstock including directions and how to book, can be found at www.maltstock.com