Tuesday 23rd Feb; A personal introduction to Maker's Mark or
"Is 9y really too old?"
Saturday at the Munich Whisky & Bar Festival I was chatting to
the people on the Laphroaig stand and picking up a couple of
samples when a chap on the neighbouring Maker's Mark stand asked
if I was also interested in tasting bourbon. Although bourbon
isn't the main focus of Whisky Emporium, it is an added feature
and I do indeed include them in my notes and Maker's Mark is one
that I have been intending to add.
Mark only bottle one expression for sale which is a 'No Age
Statement' (NAS), but for the festival they had brought along
four different expressions; New Spirit which was labelled
'less than one day old', Spirit matured for one year, the
'normal' NAS which I was told was about 6 years old and
finally a bottle labelled 'over matured' which was about
9 years old.
explained to me was the distillery policy on warehousing and
barrel rotation which is quite complicated due to the
temperature differences from floor to ceiling which becomes
quite critical when barrels are stored ten high to utilise the
area. Did he really say there can be a 30° difference between
floor and celing?
you an example, the NAS bottled expression has no exact defined
age, but the barrels start their maturation at the top level
where they remain for 2-3 years, after which they drop down to
the middle level for a further 1-2 years and then down to ground
level for about 1 year, making this expression about 6 years old
then poured a sample of each as the intended taste profile, or
should I say 'tongue-profile' of Maker's Mark was explained in
detail. Maker's Mark go to great lengths and trouble to ensure
that their whiskey hits the palate at exactly the intended point
which is right at the front of the tongue, nothing else will do
tried each expression I experienced not only a myraid of
flavours, but also an abject lesson in how maturation affects
the palate. The New Spirit at less than one day of age
immediately hit the centre of the palate with a very floral
freshness, reminiscent of some grappas I know and like.
The one year variant which had spent its short maturation
life up at the top warehouse level managed to penetrate both
sides of the palate making juices flow freely. but almost totally
missing the centre of the tongue. The flavours of this young
whiskey much belied its young age with a smooth, gentle, warming
perfume which was already well on the way to developing a fine
bourbon character. As intended, the 'official' NAS went
straight for the front of the palate whereas the 'over-matured',
which had lived for three years at each of the three levels, hit
right at the back of the palate with smooth, rich, well-matured
and perfumed wood and leather notes. It then proceeded to
alternate between front and back of the palate in a strange, but
wonderful palate-tantalising experience.
a great education for me in the world of bourbon and palate and
I have to say a great big thank you to the staff at Makers Mark
for their patience and time afforded to me personally during
that hour at the festival, but I stand by my heart-felt plea to
bottle that 9y variant - Please. It is not over-matured, nor is
it too old, it is an extremely fine bourbon with a depth of
character and richness that my palate rejoices in, so kind Sirs,
even though I may only be that 1 in 100 of people who request
this, please continue maturation and bottle that 9y bourbon,
it's extremely good!
Maker's Mark tasting notes are available here or by
clicking on any of the above MM bottle pictures.
Monday 22nd Feb; Munich Whisky & Bar Festival or
"Sleeveless in Munich"
much anticipation and excitement the day finally arrived and as
arranged, I met a friend and fellow whisky enthusiast at the
local station for the 45 minute train journey into Munich.
Whereas in previous years my main objectives for visiting the
festival had been to meet specific trade contacts and discuss
various aspects of my whisky and pub business, this year I was
going armed with a personal 'shopping list' of not only samples,
but also photos required for my tasting note project. Although I
was still looking forward to meeting my contacts again and also
making new friends and contacts.
were early we enjoyed a little wander around town and also a
bite of lunch before going into the festival which was being
held at a totally new location this year; the complex which
hosts The Imax cinema, the planeterium and of course, The
Deutches Museum which in itself is a fantastic day out, or even
a few days as I defy anyone to actually see everything there
in just a single day.
welcome to the new venue and what an excellent venue it is! I
enjoyed previous events at The Prater Insel, but for some reason
I always believed that somewhere within Munich, there was a better
location and thankfully, Frank (of Finest Spirits) has managed
to find it. Lots of space, chairs to relax and take the stress
from one's feet for a while and overall, a very professional and
what of the actual festival? After leaving our coats in the
cloakroom we ventured towards the array of stands and one of my
'targets' on the shopping list. In fact the Number 1 target; a
ticket for the (Diageo) Managers Choice Masterclass from the
festival shop. "Ausverkauft!" Said the shop
assistant. "Errrmm pardon, sorry, you can't be sold out?"
I questioned, "You've not been open more than about 45
minutes." But alas, the masterclass was indeed sold out.
I had a chat with Frank's wife and she confirmed that the 25
places had been all sold. But why only 25 places? It's obvious
that Diageo were only supplying one bottle (of each) per
masterclass, but the samples are all 2cl, a bottle holds 70cl so
that's technically 35 places. OK, so we allow for the odd
dribble to escape, but surely 30 places would have been possible?
stop - total disappointment, so on to the second item
on my shopping list; Ardbeg Rollercoaster. As a committee member
I had been sent an e-mail inviting me to a sample of the new
Rollercoaster Committee release. Imagine my delight to find it
being poured from a 4.5 litre giant bottle with pride of place
on the stand. So, with the rollercoaster safely in my sample
stash I also decided to relieve that stand of some Corryvrecken,
the 1990 Beastie and the Ten, all of which will appear in my
tasting notes soon.
day moved on, various stands were visited and relieved of
samples as my bag of little bottles grew heavier and heavier,
but no matter how many times I asked, that masterclass remained
'ausverkauft'. I even had a chat with Frank whilst he was
judging some cocktail compettiton and yes, he confirmed there
were only 25 places and all 'ausverkauft'.
of the cocktail competition, this is no longer just a whisky
festival. As a whisky & bar festival it now includes all drinks,
as I discovered from the stands of rum, gin, vodka, funny
Bavarian herbal things and Noilly Prat (who had a very unusual
stand which I could only describe as 'twee'). There was the
cocktail competition, a stand containing a myraid of different
coffees and, for goodness sake, ice all over the place, but
thankfully there was none visible on the whisky stands, nor was
I ever offered any. It's good to see some principles don't
noticeable thing during the later afternoon was what I perceived
to be the queue of new people arriving and depositing their
coats at the cloakroom, in fact this was building into quite a
long one and I began to wonder just how much busier it could get
as it was already quite full. But never mind, on to more stands
as I sought out Jim Murray for a quick chat and exchange of
opinions as Jim is always good on the topics surrounding our
about this time when I began to feel that I had probably
achieved all I could for the day with a bag full of samples,
although disappointment was still very evident as I had not
managed to speak to a few of the companies I know and who have
previously attended the festival, namely the importer for
Bruichladdich, Glenfarclas, An Cnoc, Springbank, G&M and Murray
McDavid, amongst others. Neither could I find Pernod Ricard as
various items from The Glenlivet were on my wish-list. Also
conspicuous by their absence were Whyte & Mackay with Dalmore &
Jura, Balvenie, Benriach and amazingly Glenfiddich too.
All brands I had hoped to visit. But never mind, at least we had
cocktails, rums, vodkas, gins, funny Bavarian herbal things and
lots of ice!
organisor) came over to talk to Jim and then proceeded to give
an interview to a video camera whilst I waited to ask one last
favour; "would it be possible to put my name on a waiting list,
just in case someone couldn't get to the Managers Choice tasting".
just then when I was tapped on the shoulder and turned to see
his wife brandishing a ticket for the said masterclass, saying
"someone had too much to drink and has cancelled their
ticket, would I like it?" Mrs Frank's wife, you are an angel.
Thank you for remembering, for searching the festival and
finding me, for offering the ticket just when I was
contemplating giving it up for the day and also a big thank you
to whoever had overindulged! Thank goodness for lack of
come, at this later hour of 6.30pm, were so many people still
queueing to give coats to the cloakroom? Also, how come none of
these people were actually wearing coats? Oh dear, it was the
queue to get coats back!
I now had more time in the festival for the masterclass.
into John, fellow whisky enthusiast and travelling companion for
the day, who exclaimed "have you seen the queue for coats, it's
getting longer not shorter!" So we agreed that whilst I was in
the masterclass he would get our coats so we could be on the
planned train home.
plans don't always work out. After my masterclass I found John
somewhere in the middle of the queue and saying he had already
been there, without really moving, for 45 minutes. I took his
place to allow him out for a smoke whilst contemplating the
excellent masterclass, a rollercoaster of a day
with some highs and many lows, just why weren't those major
brands here? And, finally, why do many expats in Germany think
Germans can't queue? They were doing an rather excellent job
after a total queueing time of just over an hour we neared the
front of the queue to find staff running around everywhere,
total chaos behind the desk, staff asking "Is this one yours?"
then bottles of sekt being opened and offered to the waiting
masses as an apology. A few people did seem to get irate with
the staff, but amidst the chaos they were trying their best as
one explained "someone knocked a coat rack and they all just
fell like dominoes!" The poor staff were now having to check
every single coat against each ticket as nothing was in order
any longer. They even asked a few people to go look themselves
to save time.
sleeveless in Munich, that was the day that was!
Wednesday 17th Feb; A day in the big city or
"It's Festival time"
Watch this space as this coming weekend
sees the annual jamboree that is the Munich whisky festival,
known locally as Finest Spirits 2010. If any of you are visiting
the event on Saturday 20th look out for me and say 'Hi'.
Wednesday 17th Feb; Hoarding samples or
Since my January visit to the Doc's and his
prescription for more rotten tomatoes I have let my sampling
duties slip somewhat as I guess I have taken a break since the
Christmas rush. Anyway, that's not to say I haven't been busy
sourcing some more excellent material for the tasting notes
which I expect will occupy both ends of the scale with some
superstars and probably a couple of those aforementioned rotten
Of course, once sampled the individual
whiskies will be added to the picture list over on the right
hand side, but just to whet your appetites here's a list of
what's coming along soon; Bruichladdich 3D3, Laphroaig Quarter
Cask, a previous release of Jura Superstition, Whyte & Mackay
19y 'Old Luxury', Highland Park Hjarta, Glentromie 12y,
Glenlivet 18y, Glenlivet Nadurra CS, Knockdhu 12y, 1996 Longrow
10y, the original Spice Tree, Mosstowie 1979-2001, Glenlossie
10y, Convalmore 21y, Ladyburn 34y, plus a pair of new spirits in
the guise of Daftmill & Loch Ewe. Then last and possibly least
is the infamous Loch Dhu.
Slàinte, let's get busy and play some
Friday 15th Jan; A visit to The Doctor or
"Keep taking the medicine"
I guess the start
of a new year is as good a time as any for an annual check-up,
maybe especially so after the excesses of Christmas and New Year.
The Doctor in question appears to be highly regarded and comes
well recommended after his current practice has been open for a
good three years, but just what did The Doctor say?
The prognosis is
that we seem to be in better shape than ever before, if a little
saturated and at times unco-ordinated, but does this signal the
onset of some nasty and destructive disease? Hardly. One slight
problem, or what I would personally term a 'niggle' is that we
do seem to be losing the ability to spell as we decimate the
English language with terms like 'chix' and even 'connosr', why
is that nobody seems able to spell connoisseur?
Of course, at the
top of our agenda we have fun and this should remain so, as it's
a necessary part of our lives and a smile or two never hurt
anyone. Now just who was the first to point out the fine line
between genius and insanity? Does anybody really care that we
are also heavily guided by a bunch of maniacs, albeit very
knowledgeable ones? Of course not, it's all part of the fun, so
sign of the times is that nobody wishes to sit on the sidelines
and we all want to join in, whether qualified or not we have
opinions and want them to be heard. Maybe this is where our
disjointedness lies, but does it matter that we are many, often
individual, voices and not a single choreographed choir?
Many people are not
happy with a visit to the Doctor unless they come away with some
form of medication, so what exactly did this Doctor prescribe?
Well, he has suggested a good dose of rotten tomatoes for 2010
which may seem strange to some, but again we are currently
suffering from a proliferation of perfection where many are even
viewed as being out of touch due to their pedestal positioning,
so yes indeed, why not come right back down to earth with some
good old rotten tomatoes.
reminds me, have you tried the original presentation of
Bruichladdich Waves? A decent enough 8y 'laddie for the first
few days after opening, but thereafter often transmoglifying
into what can only be described as a rancid and very rotten
tomato. Then, even though a tomato is actually classified as a
fruit and not a vegetable, I am also reminded of the most
vegetal drink after a carrot cocktail; Tamnavulin 12y. More like
a potato cocktail with cabbage, broccoli and sprouts as a side
whatever your viewpoint or level of expertise, keep taking the