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The whisky world as seen by an eccentric Bavarian exile


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Tuesday February 22nd 2011

Drams & Trams

or "The dram now standing at platform ..."


For some years now Munich has enjoyed a whisky festival, sometimes even two, but that's another story which will go untold by me although if it were, then "Whisky Wars" would be a fitting title.

Anyway, in the halcyon days of the early Munich whisky festivals they were held on a wee island called 'Praterinsel' in the middle of the river Isar which divides the city. Although a location more famed for esoteric musical concerts, this worked quite well as it afforded various separate buildings and enclosures for the stands, food, traditional music (with its own bar) and masterclasses. All without the feeling of disjointedness.

Last year the festival moved up the river a short distance into the forum area of the famous Deutches Museum, which is now being gutted for renovation, so this year required another location. The one chosen was the MVG Museum, home to an array of trams through the ages of Munich's public transport system.

So, how did the Drams & Trams ambience suit the occasion?

En route to the fair, which was serviced by a free shuttle bus, which in itself was an antique befitting the location, I met an old whisky friend who was looking forward to the chance of seeing and photographing this transport history as much as he was the whisky.

Personally I felt that this was indeed a good location, there was plenty of room to move around, the stands were all accessible and the event never felt as crowded as it has in some past years, however, on reflection I must ask myself if this was really due to the location, the number of visitors or even the number of stands? But more of this in a minute.

One thing which I consider important at such an event is food, oh how good it would have been to have some there. Well, there were some apologies for pre-made sandwiches, but none of the wholesome fayre that Bavaria is renowned for and which would have gone down a treat here!

A whisky fair also needs water, lots of it. There were indeed bottles of water on every stand and they happily poured it to help one clean the glass and also re-hydrate, but a separate table or stand where one could help oneself, as in previous years, would also have been most welcome.

Meanwhile, back to the stands and location; I have already said that it didn't feel as crowded as in previous years and yes, the location was good, but my over-riding feeling is that the number of visitors has seriously declined this year, at least on the Saturday that I attended. Frank, who runs the fair, offered a very impressive list of whisky brands on offer, but as my friend Oliver also mentioned; the number of brands or distilleries does not reflect the number of individual stands as many offer more than one brand!

Past years have seen the major 'players' with large and impressive stands, by this I really refer to Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Ardbeg / Glenmorangie (LVMH). Thankfully they were all in attendance this year, but not as impressively so, as they had much smaller stands with not so many choices. Apart from the last dribbles of their Rollercoaster and SN2010, Ardbeg were offering only the basic standard range of 10y, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan.

Diageo had a small Classic Malts stand and of these three, Pernod Ricard had the best presence with their ranges of Aberlour, Glenlivet and a couple of others. Come on you big guys, you represent a large majority of the Scotch whisky industry, show your wares and delight the public!

Without a doubt leading the way this year were smaller independent stands. I spent lots of time talking to Andy O'Neill and Hans Feld on the Cooper's Choice stand where they had various versions of their much renowned OA; a 5y undisclosed Islay offering, of which the CS version was truly excellent!

Lothar Langar is an independent whisky seller specialising in those rarities of years long gone by and even has a great selection on offer 'by the dram' as well as full bottles, brilliant and I was happy to leave some of my 'hard-earned' with him in return for some fine samples!

Then there was fellow Malt Maniac Pit Krause wih the Munich Spirits stand and representing his own 'SlowDrink' with some fine bottles, it's just a shame some were never opened because 'not enough people' asked for them, how I would have loved a sample of that Caperdonich.

Having said this, many high profile past attendees were conspicuous by their absence; where were Bruichladdich? Jim McEwan himself has usually attended in past years, certainly their importer has always been there, but sadly no more it seems. Also Whyte & Mackay with their Jura and Dalmore offerings fronted by the nose himself. Sadly no more it seems. Suntory - Bowmore? Sadly no more it seems .... and the list goes on.....

At least last year's cloakroom problems did not recurr as all coat racks managed to stay upright this year. No more sleeveless in Munich!

So, is the Munich whisky fair in decline? Sadly I think it is although I can't quite put my finger on why. Frank works hard to promote and run it and it is indeed well run, but it is a greatly different beastie (or would that be Beistie?) to the event of a few years ago at the Praterinsel. It is no longer a 'whisky' fair, it is promoted as a whisky and bar festival with almost as much emphasis on other 'spirits' as on whisky. It is also aimed at those funny neon-lit cocktail emporia that the 'in crowd' frequent in Munich's fashionable quarters. Oh how I long for those halcyon days at the praterinsel, but at least my sample bottles are still overflowing with some gems!

Slàinte Mhath



Thursday February 3rd 2011

A wee diversion

or "Spam galore"


Yes I know, I do normally restrict Dram-atics to whisky activity but forgive me as today I'm offering a little diversion, quite literally and in more than one sense of the word.

Are you fed up with those typical spam e-mails? offering either big lottery wins from ones you've never heard of let alone entered, or goodness knows who that claims to be an Executive in some Asian bank who's selected you to inherit some poor soul's life savings ... etc ....

Well, guess what happened to me today? I received an offer I could hardly ignore from a Mr. Peter TS. Wong in Hong Kong. He claims to be 53 years old, happily married and with "grown up children" (as if that matters?), who also claims to be a Director and Senior Executive Officer of Hang Seng Bank Ltd.

Like most spammers he's trying to tempt me with an obscene amount of money ($22.5million) and is offering me 30% ... etc ..... I'm sure you're familiar with the rest ....

So, rather than file it in the 'bin' like I normally do, I've decided to not quite play along, more like play with him.

Firstly, let me clarify that Whisky-Emporium is not a large corporation, it isn't even a business, just my hobby website, however, for the purposes of this wee diversion I have suddenly become a large international corporation.

Secondly, let me introduce you to my Asian Affairs Executive Director; Mr. Um Lei Tung (the German speakers amongst you may recognise this name, or rather word as 'umleitung' means 'diversion' in English.

Thirdly, I have assumed a pseudonym for this little diversion as I have introduced myself as Herr E. Dryer, which I hope my English-speaking readers will appreciate.

So, I have made Mr. Wong an alternative offer; No names or addresses or even 5 telephone numbers that he demands from me, but I will send Um Lei Tung in person, in our corporate jet to meet him in Hong Kong where Mr. Wong can hand over the money in cash and Um will bring it into Germany.

The offer of 30% is of course not a good enough deal for us, so we have made an offer that we will keep 45% and hand over the other 55% to Mr. Wong in person, in Germany.

Does he read Dram-atics? Well, I guess we'll soon know.

Keep tuned in as this story hopefully evolves.



Sadly, our Mr. Wong seems to have chosen not to do business with my corporation which comes as no real surprise to me. If you fancy asking him why, or would just like to contact him yourself, or maybe even other spambots may like his three e-mail addresses?   peterwongts58@yahoo.com.hk or tungpetershunwong@yahoo.com.hk or infopetershun58@rocketmail.com then feel free to do as you like!



Wednesday February 2nd 2011

Festival time again

or "Sample bottles galore"


It may have seemed a little quiet around here recently, but most of my activity has been in the background with things like adding my whisky notes and scores into the Malt Maniacs Monitor. I did subject myself to an overdose of sherry casks in January, but at least they were fine Aberlour ones and thoroughly enjoyable it was too.

However, things are now looking up as February is Festival time at least here in Munich and I'll be toddling along with my Maniacal buddy Oliver and probably meeting another Maniac there in the form of Pit Krause, ahhh happy dramming!

Of course I'll be armed with more than enough sample bottles so expect lots more reviews and comments later in February and probably well into March as my dram-tabulous efforts will be recorded here.

Slàinte Mhath!



Tuesday February 1st 2011

The Whisky Knights are encouraged to 'talk dirty' this month as our "dirty little secrets" are secret no more!




Previous major features

Jan. 2011

Lookback at 2010, New Job? Three Thirties, ToC, Overdosing on sherry casks

Dec. 2010

December's Advent-urous drams, Nant Distillery, The road to Certification

Nov. 2010

Journey to end of Scotverse, Wick, Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Homecoming, Tweetup, Chilling with Cooley

October 2010

The John Walker, Sampling with Master of Malts, Changing jobs, Whisky Round Table

Sept. 2010

Playing Chinese whispers, Oktoberfest, SMWS Spirit Cellar, 500,000

August 2010

Elementary my dear Islay, Handbags at dawn, Dram-arkable 500, Cheapo Challenge, Ah Dooagh, 1 from 3 left

July 2010

Age matters. A series of whisky reviews concentrating upon 'Age'

June 2010

Jules Rimet, pickles & crisps. Mon coeur, mon amour oh mon sherry. A taste of the great outdoors.

May 2010

The highly-acclaimed and record-breaking "Desert Island Drams"

April 2010

My peat's bigger than your peat, A foursome with a famous Scottish bird

March 2010

Sample Mania tasting notes, The Good, the Bad & The Loch Dh-Ugly, A return to sanity, The Choice of Managers

Jan-Feb 2010

Keep taking the medicine, It's Festival time, Maker's Mark, Sleeveless in Munich

Dec. 2009

All power to the bean-counters, protecting Scotch, seasonal drams, Definitive Xmas Drams, 2009 Whisky Awards

Nov. 2009

How it all started, Bonfire night, Autumnal musings, EU Tax & Duty, What's in a (whisky) name?




© Copyright 2009-2011 by Keith Wood - All rights reserved - Whisky-Emporium