With more than a hundred distilleries across Scotland producing thousands of different expressions of whisky, it can be quite hard to choose your next bottle. At The Whisky Exchange we classify whisky by flavour, to help you jump from dram to dram, exploring tasty spirits that you can be sure you’re going to like.
Billy Abbott has been classifying whiskies by flavour for The Whisky Exchange for years, ever since he helped create the Whisky by Flavour categories. In this class he’ll talk through the flavour camps, looking at what creates the flavours we can taste and finding ways to jump from whisky to whisky without taking too many chances on whether you love your next choice.
For an island with so many distilleries, Islay is surprisingly small. But even more surprising is how many of the distilleries get their malted barley from the same place – Port Ellen Maltings – with the different malt distinguished mostly by how smoky it is.
To take the most extreme example, Caol Ila and Lagavulin use almost the same malt, but produce very different spirits – fruity and floral at one end through to rich and maritime at the other. How do they make things so different?
Diageo ambassador Colin Dunn is a man who has – like a true martyr – spent the past few decades digging deep into the flavours of whisky. Lagavulin and Caol Ila are never far from his heart (or lips) and in this class he’ll lead us through three pairs of similar expressions, pulling apart the whiskies and finding out what makes them tick – both their similarities and differences.
Colin never disappoints and if you are a fan of Islay spirit, this class is a must.
Scotland is seeing a boom in new distilleries and the first of the new wave have recently come of age and started to bottle whisky. In this session we’ll be chatting with three of the most anticipated distilleries in Scotland, and each will be pouring not only their first release, but also something special they’ve found just for us.
We’ll be joined by:
- Torabhaig – the second-ever legal distillery to be built on the Isle of Skye, sat by the sea on the south coast. Founded in 2017, the distillery’s first release was delayed by the pandemic and flew off the shelves when it finally landed in early 2021. This is a rare chance to try not only the first sold-out release, but also a specially selected cask sample to see what might be coming next.
- Dornoch Distillery – the Thompson brothers are well known in the whisky world for their curation of the excellent Dornoch Castle Hotel whisky bar, and their distillery is hidden at the back of the hotel in an old fire station. They’re focused on old-fashioned whisky made slowly and with the finest ingredients. We’ll be trying their first release – from the first cask they ever filled, as well as something special from the warehouse.
- Ardnamurchan – Adelphi have been known for independently bottling some of Scotland’s finest whiskies, but after years of waiting they have now started bottling their own. Hiding on the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula, the eponymous distillery is already turning heads with its early releases, and we’ll be trying its inaugural release. Along with that, they’ll also be bringing something special to show us what’s in store.
Food Pairing with Dawn Davies MW
While whisky is often seen as either an aperitif or digestif, book-ending meals rather than getting involved with the main course, the past few years have seen a boom in the ways that adventurous drinkers have been matching whisky and food.
There are many different approaches to creating the perfect pairing, and in this class, Dawn Davies MW will be flexing her sommelier muscles to give you not only the skills to create your own pairings, but also a selection of her own to tantalise the tastebuds.
Dawn has been working with our show food exhibitors to create interesting food pairings, all designed to get the most out of both spirit and nibble.
If you want to build your food pairing skills or even just want to eat some great bites, then this is the class for you.
Highland Park is a legendary distillery which has withstood the test of time. Founded in 1798 on Orkney, it is one of the most remote whisky distilleries in the world. With more than 223 years of distilling under its belt, it’s no wonder Highland Park has been named ‘Best Spirit in the World’ a multitude of times.
Martin Markvardsen is Highland Park’s senior brand ambassador. Hailing from Denmark, his passion for whisky shines through in his tastings, and having worked in the industry for more than 30 years, Martin certainly knows his way around a dram.
In this masterclass, you will take a tour of Highland Park and discover why this phenomenal whisky is admired around the world. Starting with flair, we’ll be trying something that is both old and new – the revival of a beloved classic that will be revealed closer to the show… Next up, we will have the multi-award winning 18 Year Old from which we'll be stepping into the upper reaches of the distillery’s range with the 21, 30, and 40 Year Old. And finally, we’ll go out with a bang by taking the plunge into a whole new taste adventure with the mighty and powerful Cask Strength!
Ian MacLeod Distillers
Ian MacLeod Distillers was founded in 1933 and is Scotland’s 10th largest whisky company. While you may not have heard the company’s name before, you will have heard of its single malt whiskies: Tamdhu and Glengoyne.
Tamdhu joined the Ian MacLeod family in 2011 and the past decade has seen it go from strength to strength. A sherry-focused powerhouse on Speyside, its whiskies have been turning heads since its relaunch. We’ll be looking into how the origin of the distillery’s casks changes the flavour of its whisky, with a comparative tasting of American- and European-oak-matured drams.
Glengoyne has long held a reputation for producing incredible long-aged drams, and we will be putting that to the test with a Glengoyne 30 Year Old and a very special upcoming release.
Ian MacLeod is most recently known for its project to revive Rosebank distillery. Rosebank’s story began in 1840 and it looked like it had ended in 1993 when the distillery was closed, the stills removed and most of the site redeveloped. However, Ian MacLeod have begun to rebuild, and a new Rosebank is rising out of the ashes. On the way to the new distillery, they are releasing spirit distilled before it closed, and we are delighted to dip into that history with a pair of Rosebanks from deep within the Ian MacLeod warehouses.
This is a fantastic opportunity to taste great drams from three much-loved distilleries with the people who know them inside out.
Investing in Whisky with Sukhinder Singh and Isabel Graham-Yooll
With a combined total of more than 50 years experience in the drinks world, there’s no one better to get you up to speed than Sukhinder Singh and Isabel Graham-Yooll. Along with being co-founder of The Whisky Exchange, Sukhinder has one of the world’s largest whisky collections, regularly buys and sells bottles at auction and is known as an expert on old, rare and collectible spirits. Isabel’s background covers the whole world of drinks, and after years of experience in acquiring rare wine and spirits for her customers she is now auction director Whisky.Auction, helping fans around the world get their hands on great drinks.
Both Sukhinder and Isabel’s knowledge comes from a love and understanding of spirits, and this tasting will combine their wisdom with a blind tasting. They will reveal the secrets of investment while getting you to taste some of the whiskies that they’re talking about, all without the prejudice and prejudgement that seeing the label can inspire.
Join Isabel and Sukhinder for a session touching on valuable topics including the real importance of age, Japanese whisky and how to spot an undervalued bottle.
Please note this will be a blind tasting.
Springbank is one of the small number of distilleries that are still making whisky in Campbeltown, once the powerhouse of Scotch whisky production. Not to rest on its laurels, it makes up for the relatively small number of distilleries by making three different whiskies: softly smoky Springbank, unpeated triple-distilled Hazelburn and super-smoky Longrow.
In this class, director David Allen will be leading us through three of the distillery’s most sought after expressions – the 21-year-old releases of each type of spirit. Not only that, we’ll get a sneak preview of a very special whisky that won’t be available on the shelves until 2022: the upcoming Springbank 30 Year Old.
The Creation Of Flavour
The distiller makes the spirit, but the blender makes the whisky
Diageo’s warehouses across Scotland contain some nine million casks, give-or-take. These range from newly filled cask of immature spirit to vanishingly rare malt from long-lost distilleries. The role of the blender is to look at this vast array and see future bottlings of whisky waiting to be assembled.
Maureen Robinson is one of Diageo’s most celebrated blenders. Since joining the company in 1977, she’s overseen some of the firm’s most prestigious projects including the Diageo Special Releases and the highly sought-after Prima & Ultima series.
Emma Walker joined Diageo in 2008 and has worked as a blender since 2014. She works primarily with the Johnnie Walker range and helped to create the celebrated Ghost & Rare series. These limited edition blends incorporate rare whiskies from closed distilleries like Pittyvaich, Cambus and Brora.
Three Blind Men
Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of The Whisky Exchange, has tried a lot of whisky over the years and has shared many a dram with whisky experts around the world. He especially likes giving people whisky blind and seeing what they think – finding out not only if they can guess what it is, but also what they think without any of the baggage of brand or bottle.
In this tasting, you have the chance to join in with one of Sukhinder’s blind tasting sessions, along with three world-famous whisky experts: Dave Broom, Serge Valentin and Charles MacLean MBE:
- Dave Broom is one of the world’s best loved drinks writers and educators. He’s got a string of books under his belt, has travelled the world drinking the weirdest and most wonderful spirits, and has the honour of being one of the hosts of Whisky Show.
- Serge Valentin has one of the most influential palates in the online whisky community. His blog – Whisky Fun – contains thousands of his tasting notes (16,547 at the time of writing), and his thoughts on releases new and old are much sought-after by whisky fans.
- Charles MacLean is one of the most recognisable figures in the industry today. He has been writing about whisky for more than 40 years and is Scotland’s leading expert on the subject. This year, he was awarded an MBE for his services to Scotch whisky, UK exports and charity – a well-deserved honour.
Join Sukhinder Singh and The Whisky Exchange's head buyer and Whisky Show host Dawn Davies MW for a tasting that will not only take in six great whiskies, but also give you the chance to see how your palate matches up to some of the industry’s greatest drinkers.
Please note this will be a blind tasting.