I’ve been lucky enough to play rugby at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in the City of London on a good few occasions, it’s a truly unique place in the heart of London and every time i’ve been there, I’ve woken up with a very sore head the next day. There were no surprises that the same thing happened when I woke up on the 2nd April with one belter of a hangover, so back to the 1st April…
I got to the base and was shown in to the event reception area, the tranquility of the grounds was instantly forgotten as I burrowed my way inside, scooping up my Glencairn Glass, Highland Park 12 and a show brochure en-route. I made my way inside the main hall and a rather large smile spread across my face.
I clocked the Paul John stand first and made a mental note not to miss that stand… I made a dart straight to That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s stand.
From the moment I saw their Back to the Future style label on the Laphroaig 12, they well and truly had me hooked. I headed straight over to James @MavDrinksJames, who was quizzing a couple of guys about the distillery behind their secret distillery batch #1 and #2.
The guys weren’t sure but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut(it’s a Welsh thing) I won’t spoil the surprise for others but it earned me a thumbs up and a promise of a secret dram.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Springbank 21
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Macallan 29 – my reward and totally amazing.
I moved on to the Nikka Stand next, fighting my way through to the front, I managed to get a sample of the Single Malt Miyagiko, before the popularity of the Japanese stand started to grate on me. I am one of those annoying blokes who actually likes to ask questions about what I’m drinking(at the start of the day at least).
Nikka Single Malt Miyagikyo
Next up was a trip to Sweden, well to the Mackmyra Whisky stand to be precise. Here I met Alex who was a bundle of energy, he was very knowledgable and I could bend his ear a bit.
He gave myself and few other lads a flight through the company’s drams…
Mackmyra Brukswhisky – This bad boy would be great on an introduction to whisky flight
Mackmyra Svensk Ek
Mackmyra Svensk Rok
Mackmyra Ten Years
Mackmyra Moment Malstrom
Alex was great and began giving some other lads their flight, whilst we were starting the Svensk Rok. He managed to engage everyone and remember which dram we were on and when we might need a drop of water.
Up next Compass Box. I’m a big fan of this fantastic blender due to their openness and honesty around what makes up their drams.
I got chatting to Phil Keene, the International Commercial Director for Compass Box, who was on the stand their stand. He asked me about my favourite whiskies and styles and claimed, quite correctly I might add, what my favourite bottle would be.
Compass Box Hedonism
Compass Box Asyla
Compass Box Oak Cross
Compass Box Spice Tree
Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend – Phil’s prediction
Compass Box Peat Monster
Was he right? Of course he was, the Glasgow blend was one of the biggest surprises of the day and I’ll be getting a couple soon.
I made a stop by the Teeling stand and got chatting to a few other drammers in the immediate area. I’d been to the Distillery a couple of weeks before hand and was very impressed by what’s happening there. I’d say its the one to watch but that’s old news as they have already started scooping up awards.
Teeling Small BatchWhiskey
Teeling Single Malt Whiskey
Teeling Single Malt The Revival 13 y/o Whiskey
Next stop, Tomintoul and Glencadam.
Following my recent purchase of the Tomatin 14 y/o Portwood, I was keen to have a try of some other Portwood finishes.
Tomintoul 15 Portwood Finish
Glencadam 12 Portwood Finish
I shot back to That Boutique-y Whisky Company for a few more delights and got to have a good chat with Dave Worthington @WhiskyDiscoverey who is a top lad. He was kind enough to let me try the spectacular Bunnahabhain 33 y/o.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Secret Distillery Batch 2
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Secret Distillery Batch 1
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Rye
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Scotch Batch #2 18
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Scotch Batch #3 23
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Bunnahabhain 33
After I’d annoyed Dave and the lads enough, the time had come to go and see Kevin Abrook of Ailsa Bay for his master class.
I’m going to do a separate story on Ailsa Bay but needless to say it’s on my list of bottles to buy.
I have to admit after the cask strength samples here I was more than half cut, don’t judge me I was having a lot of fun.
I hit up Paul John next and feel a bit guilty…
I was looking forward to having a good chat with Shilton and Craig and to have a try of their Peated Select Cask. I feel slightly silly though as I think by this point of the day I was talking absolute crap, thanks for putting up with me. It’s possible I tried more than one sample but by this point I’m working off pictures!
Paul John Peated Select Cask
Towards the end of the show I went and harassed the Boutique-y boys again and went through all the samples I could squeeze in before the end of a wonderful day