What a treat, to be invited to The London Whisky Weekender at the Oval Space, East London to join in the celebrations of the best of whisky from all around the world.
Utilising a similar format to WhiskyLive, The London Whisky Weekender is all about encouraging whisky fanatics and whisky newbies to try new things, open their minds and expand their knowledge of something so mysterious as whisk(e)y.
In the lead up to the event I had been getting in the mood by way of an invite-only Tweet Tasting courtesy of @TheWhiskyWire that pitted a bunch of well known whisky bloggers against each other, in good nature naturally, as part of a blind taste test to see if we knew out malt from our grain, our Islay from our Speyside and even to be caught out with a rather exquisite and unexpected cognac.
How better to get you in the mood for something that promises intrigue, insight and inspiration?
Just to make The London Whisky Weekender even more special, I attended a tasting workshop on Pre-War Whiskies billed as “an amazing and perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to taste some incredible stuff whilst taking in the view of the last remaining Blitz-bombed site in London”.
Once I’ve absorbed all the information and commentary from the Pre-War Whiskies workshop I will be writing a separate article so that I can go into the true detail that it deserves.
Away from the workshop, I toured the room, talking to ambassadors, blenders and bloggers alike about what’s new, what’s great, what’s worth the inordinate queue for and what was ok to dodge.
On the way in to The London Whisky Weekender each punter was given their event-branded Glencairn glass and two white casino chips to be used as tokens for ‘under the counter’ drams, you could also buy black casino chips that got you even more exquisite drams.
Naturally I bought two of the black tokens to add to my two whites but in truth I don’t totally think it was worth the extra tender as there were enough incredible whiskies about without the need to get more, but was a nice idea for those looking to try very special drams.
After a nip of a rather nice ‘breakfast’ whisky from SMWS called G10.5 – A ‘Schweppervescence’ moment , a 23 year old single cask grain, I began to get under the skin of the event.
Akin to WhiskyLive, the main space had exhibitors, the bottles or distillery brands, around the outside of the room but what made a difference here is [edited] whilst there were more exhibitors, it did not feel cluttered which gave those in attendance a lot more space to breathe and to wander around without bumping in to each other.
An all-inclusive whisky introduction and expansion
Something else that stands The London Whisky Weekender out as a great event is rooted in the ethos of its founder Eddie, who’s self-proclaimed job title of Whisky Evangelist could not be more apt. With an underlying tone of honesty and an upfrontness that instantly feels accessible and enjoyable, demystifying urban myths for whisky drinkers old and new.
The attendees were a diverse bunch in themselves, all demographics, most ages (above legal drinking age, obviously) and some very clear differences in their attitudes towards whisky.
As much as the whisky was the draw for me to attend, the popup street food vendors were an interesting distraction. I opted to keep it Scottish, choosing a Hamish Macbeth; a hot haggis, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and rocket toastie. Simply immense.
So what else did I sample? Quite a few actually, but here are my top five highlights:
- Laphroaig’s new release, Select, which I’d had an email about that very morning and ended up buying a bottle too, great value for £35, expect a full review soon.
- One of the blends from the pre-war workshop was phenomenal, bottled in the 1920s, likely distilled around 1910, it had true stand out for me
- Bit biased towards Laphroaig but their 18 year old always goes down a treat too
- Elements of Islay, not tried these products for about two years but wow was I welcomed back (their ambassador, Oliver, was especially fun to chat to and most gracious in his well wishes for my upcoming marriage)
- Glengarioch 1986, like drinking silk, a really interesting dram (gorgeous packaging too, great stuff)
With live music on throughout the day and a lovely vibe from both punters and exhibitors, I must say I was mightily impressed and really hope to see the event happen again next year, this will become a firm fixture in my whisky calendar for years to come I’m sure.
Thanks Eddie, The Whisky Lounge, Angus who hosted the Pre-War Workshop (more about him and that in another article soon) and all who made it possible, a great way to spend World Whisky Day 2014.
The Whisky Lounge and Oval Space presents The London Whisky Weekender
What better way to start your journey into the world of whisky than a three-day festival celebrating the finest whiskies and expertise that the industry has to offer. You will find almost every style of whisky represented here, with drams from all over the world on tasting. For one weekend a year, we bring the distilleries to you!
Here’s what each session ticket includes…
- The opportunity to sample Whiskies from 20 distilleries bringing over 120 varieties of whisky at no further cost (although your liver might be grateful if you sample in moderation)
- Free branded tasting glass
- The Festival Guide, with extensive tasting notes and distillery guides
- Access to our very own ‘East End Boozer’ with whisky cocktails by Lounge Bohemia
- Access to Jameson & Beavertown Brewery takeover of The Pickle Factory complete with picklebacks, live music and a all-day BBQ
Johnnie Walker – Jameson – Macallan – Glenlivet – Talisker – Auchentoshan – Chivas Regal – Lagavulin – Bowmore – Laphroaig – Highland Park – Balblair – Kilchoman – Aberlour – Longmorn – Black Bottle – Ancnoc – Ron Diplomatico – Berry Bros. & Rudd – Elements of Islay – Glen Garioch – Old Pulteney – Paul John – Tweeddale – That Boutique-y Whisky Co.- Rock Town – Scotch Malt Whisky Society – Dewars – Aberfeldy – Dewar Rattray.