Awards & Events

Whisky comes home

Whisky Live Glasgow was different to any other whisky show
By Dominic Roskrow
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, whisky’s coming home.” Three Lions might be a song linked intrinsically to the English, but a paraphrased version of it had a certain resonance in Glasgow when Whisky Live came to town.For there was a real sense of triumph and celebration during the two day event. And any suggestions that an expression about prophets not being recognised in their own land went right out of the window as Glaswegians turned out in force to reacquaint themselves with their national drink.The tone of Whisky Live Glasgow had been set by event organiser Damian Riley-Smith, who responded to the suggestion that he was trying to teach granny to suck eggs by pointing out that granny had grown tired. Scotland has one of the best products in the world, he said, but it took it for granted and didn’t promote it properly.This was an attempt to redress the balance and put the drink on the front shelf in its native country not just in dedicated whisky bars but across the drinks trade as a whole.The event itself was Whisky Magazine’s most ambitious yet. Held in George Square in the heart of Glasgow, it was staged in two separate marquees – one called the Whisky Experience, aimed at newcomers to the drink and designed to provide interactive fun; and the other under the Whisky Live banner, where enthusiasts could meet the distillers and blenders and sample some rarer expressions of their favourite drink.As with other Whisky Live events the serious whisky aficionado had the chance to attend special masterclasses where some exceptionally rare and aged whiskies were on offer, but for this event there was something for the beginner, too. Dave Broom hosted two introductory classes, including a food and whisky one, held in partnership with Gillian Bell, the managing director of Caledonian Connoisseur, an internet provider of premium Scottish food.To give the main event more of a carnival feel there was an outdoor food and bar area and a stage where a diverse array of talented musicians including whisky bard Robin Laing and the highly impressive young Glaswegian band Episode performed. Organisers said they were delighted by the large number of visitors for a first year and by the general atmosphere and behaviour of the attendees. Plans are already underway to stage the event in the city again next year, with Glasgow City Council firmly behind the concept of Glasgow being the natural home of Scotch whisky.“The general feeling is that this was a big success and it reinforces our view that Scotland needed a show like this,” said Damian Riley-Smith. “The people of Glasgow made the whole show a pleasure from start to finish, and we look forward to welcoming even more visitors, experienced whisky drinkers and newcomers alike, at the same time of the year next year.” What visitors thoughtWe had a superb afternoon. We saw some really innovative creations. We sampled a 36 year old Jura from under the coat of the distillery manager there which was excellent. We’ve tried a 21 year old Glenlivet which was exceptional, really smooth, and we went through all the Macallan Fine Oaks they were willing to offer us. We met some nice people from the industry. Agreat afternoon. Dr Jonathan McCormick, DundeeWe had a brilliant time. Everybody was really helpful. They told us what we want we know about the drinks, they advised us in every way. They’ve been really nice. Thank you.
Senga McLaughlin, GlasgowWe had a great afternoon thanks to Radio Clyde 2. I’m not a whisky drinker but some of the concoctions were wonderful.
Carolyne Murdoch, Radio Clyde ticket winner, GlasgowI think it’s fantastic I think you should hold one every day.
Alexander Murdoch, GlasgowI thought it was excellent. It was a really good opportunity to try a lot of different whiskies of all different ages. Avery worthwhile experience, I would say.
Allan Keogh, GlasgowIt has been an excellent day. It was a great to meet people of all ages and enjoy whisky together.
Chris McWilliams, DumbartonIt has been an adventure for the tongue. Enlightening.
David Winship, CumbernauldFantastic. I came to learn more about whisky and it was very educational. Also really good fun entertainment-wise; lots of music and lots of very knowledgeable people around to answer questions.
Iain Jamieson, EdinburghInside the marquees you could be anywhere, but as soon as you go outside you’re reminded that you’re actually in the centre of Glasgow. There’s a real festival feel to it. You get to try all the whiskies you wouldn’t normally try. Everyone seemed to be having a really good time.
Jennifer Macrae, InvernessPeople from Glasgow are so friendly. And it was great to see so many different brands coming together.
Jan Beek, HollandWe are froma Dutch whisky magazine. The festival was so much fun, Whisky Live should come to Holland.
Robin Brilleman, Holland