Billy Walker 50th Anniversary - GlenAllachie
Since starting out as a chemist for Hiram Walker in 1972, Billy Walker had a varied and influential career. An experienced master blender – taking on that role for both Inver House and Burn Stewart – since the 1980s he has been known for a different aspect of whisky making – reviving and revamping distilleries and their whisky ranges.
After bringing Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglasaugh back to being global names, many thought Billy might retire, but not a man to rest on his laurels he took on his latest project – GlenAllachie.
It’s a relatively young distillery, only 50 years old when Billy and his team bought it in 2017, but in that time it had made a firm name for itself as a popular malt with blenders. Knowing its character well from his time as a blender, Billy started the process of building its reputation as a single malt and the past five years have seen Glenallachie – as well as the distillery’s White Heather blend and MacNair’s blended malt – come out of the shadows and take their place on the worldwide stage.
This class is a must for fans of Glenallachie as well as those who have been following Billy Walker’s impressive career. With White Heather and MacNair’s in the line-up as well as GlenAllachie, it’s a chance to experience Billy Walker’s blending skills as well as his approach to whisky maturation, all led by the man himself.
Celebrating 50 Years In The Industry - Sukhinder Singh & Family
Back in 1972, Narinder and Bhupinder Singh – Sukhinder and Rajbir’s parents – were granted an off-license to sell alcohol. They opened a shop called The Nest in Hanwell, West London, and the family’s story began. When the shop closed in 1999 with the retirement of Narinder and Bhupinder, Sukhinder and Rajbir moved online, and a new chapter – The Whisky Exchange – began.
The family is now, with yet another new chapter looming on the horizon, celebrating its 50th year in the drinks trade. Join Sukhinder for a journey through their history, tasting some of their most important and formative whiskies on the way.
This is an unmissable tasting, with The Whisky Exchange’s co-founder pouring some of the whiskies that have shaped his family and their business for five decades. The end of an era.
David Stewart 60th Anniversary - The Balvenie
David Stewart is one of the best known and loved whisky makers in the business. Little did he know when he applied for a job as a clerk at William Grant & Sons back in 1962 that he’d become an innovative blender and creator of some of the world’s best-loved whiskies.
He took on the role of malt master in 1972 and spent the next almost 40 years working across the William Grant’s range. He handed the reins to Brian Kinsman in 2009, but has continued to work with Balvenie’s whiskies, crafting new expressions and guiding the new generation of whisky makers at William Grant’s.
In this tasting, David will be leading us through some of his creations, from his earliest days as malt master to the most recent releases, as well as a special dram selected for the show.
This is a great opportunity to hear one of the most influential whisky-makers of the past century talk about his favourite distillery and the innovations that he helped pioneer. Not to be missed.
Glendronach with Rachel Barrie
Rachel Barrie’s 30 years in the whisky industry have given her a wealth of experience of creating and curating some of the world’s best-known and -loved whiskies, and this has continued in her time as Glendronach’s master blender, taking the distillery’s single malt to new levels.
Glendronach’s rebirth over the past two decades entered a new phase in 2017 when Rachel took over as master blender. In this class – part of the celebrations of her 30 years of working in whisky – Rachel will take us through a selection of whiskies from the distillery, showing the range of flavour and quality of whisky that she has been able to create by digging deep into its famously well-stocked warehouses.
This is a great opportunity to hear a pioneering master blender dissect her work and look deeply into the workings of one of Scotland’s recently reborn distilleries. A must for sherry-cask whisky lovers and, of course, Rachel’s fan club.
Innovation in Irish Whiskey
The past few years have seen a huge explosion of whiskey activity in Ireland. Just ten years ago there were only three whisky distilleries on the entire island, but we now see more than 50 in production or in planning. In this tasting we welcome three of the most influential people in the Irish whiskey industry, each from a distillery at a different stage in its journey – veteran, new wave and fledgling.
Billy Leighton is one of the best-known figures in Irish whiskey, with more than 45 years' experience of working at Irish Distillers. He is now the company’s chief blender, with responsibility not only for Jameson – Ireland’s biggest whiskey – but also Redbreast, the Spots and Midleton distillery’s own whiskeys.
Alex Chasko has been integral to the revival of Irish whiskey, starting his distilling career at Cooley in 2010 and using his background as a brewer in the US to develop the distiller’s range. When the Teeling family sold the company he went with them to found Teeling distillery where he continues to push the boundaries of Irish whiskey.
Michael Walsh is master distiller at Boann, a distillery dedicated to advancing Irish whiskey by looking to the past. Working with a treasure trove of historical recipes, Michael and his team are creating modern whiskey using ingredients and ideas that haven’t been explored for, in some cases, hundreds of years.
Our guests will be showcasing their approaches to innovation and showing us what’s coming down the line in the world of Irish whiskey. This is a must for Irish whiskey fans and anyone interested in the future of the world’s fastest-growing whisk(e)y.
Music and Whisky
The connections between music and drink run deep – they can be enjoyed together and in many cases, one can inspire the other. But when we combine the two, how does music affect how we perceive the spirit in front of us?
At Whisky Show, we’ve long been influenced by music. We’ve paired jazz with whisky and done classes on great music to enjoy with your favourite drams, but we’ve never delved quite so deep as we will in this class – how does the music you are listening to affect how you taste and specifically how your whisky tastes?
In this tasting, whisky writer and music aficionado Dave Broom will be joined by The Whisky Exchange head buyer and flavour fan Dawn Davies for a journey of discovery, pairing whisky and music to see how our palates can be affected by sound.
Whisky geek? Music geek? All-round flavour geek? This is the tasting for you – great drams, great tunes (almost certainly including a few from the more eclectic end of Dave’s record collection) and a deep dive into both.
The Many Faces of The Highlands
The Whisky Exchange’s ambassador Billy Abbott is not a fan of Scotland being divided into regions, especially when people talk about ‘a typical whisky’ in the Highlands – the biggest region in terms of size and styles of whisky. Join him for a jaunt around the Highlands, experiencing the full range of character and flavour available.
While some of the Scotch whisky regions once made lots of sense – Speyside was fairly self-contained in the past, Islay’s an island with lots of similar whiskies and you can walk across Campbeltown in 30 minutes, if you walk slowly – one definitely hasn’t: The Highlands. Stretching from the shores of Loch Lomond in the south-west to John O’Groats and beyond to Orkney and Shetland in the north-east, it’s a huge chunk of Scotland and one with a wide range of styles of whisky.
In this tasting, we’ll look at quite how big that range is, with everything from the big, rich and smoky to the gentle and delicate, from distilleries old and new.
The Unbelievable Truth About Whisky
The Unbelievable Truth is a Radio 4 game show devoted to truth and lies. Each panellist must deliver a short lecture packed with lies and peppered with occasional, well-hidden truths. The others must then try to ferret out the truths, while avoiding the landmines of lies. This year at Whisky Show – with the blessing of co-creator Jon Naismith – we will be hosting our own show, packed with whisky, with all proceeds going to charity.
We will be joined by Gregg Glass from Whyte & Mackay and Whisky Works, James Saxon from Compass Box, Alex Bruce from Adelphi, Sam Simmons from Atom Brands, and Phil and Simon Thompson from Dornoch Distillery, each with a whisky, a talk about their whisky, five truths and lots of lies. The Whisky Exchange’s Billy Abbott will lead the panel through their lectures, and be the arbiter of truth, backed up by researchers Oliver Chilton and Dr Nicholas Morgan.
It’ll be a tasting packed with information, most of which will be lies, with great whisky makers and five of their whiskies. All of the whiskies have been donated by their makers and all of the proceeds of the tasting will be going to Dorothy House Hospice Care, supporting their work across the south-west of the UK.
Three Blind Men – Again!
Our favourite tasting of Whisky Show is back – three whisky experts, a flight of whiskies and everything tasted blind. This year, the only information we’re giving you is that they’re all from Islay.
The expert panel return, all of them ready to pick apart the drams in front of them to find out what they can about them from smell, taste and appearance alone:
Dave Broom is a writer and educator known for his work across rum and whisky. He is the author of many books, including most recently The Way of Whisky and the upcoming A Sense of Place. He has also been the co-host of Whisky Show since 2020.
Serge Valentin is a whisky commentator best known for his website Whisky Fun, which is one of the internet’s most influential blogs. With more than 17,500 whiskies recorded on the site, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of flavour.
Charles MacLean MBE is the best-known whisky writer in the world today. He has been working with whisky since the early 1990s and has written a score of books. With more than 30 years of professional whisky tasting experience, he’s an expert in blind tasting.
This is always a great tasting, with three of the whisky world’s best known tasters and a selection of great drams – will you guess what’s in your glasses?
Please note this will be a blind tasting.
Tomatin Distillery and the Mystery of Shirakawa
Tomatin Distillery in Scotland has been owned by Japanese producer, Takara Shuzo Co. Ltd since 1986. Takara had made malt whisky at their own Shirakawa distillery from 1951 to 1968, but there’s not much publicly known about it, with most details hidden in company records. We do know that it closed in 2003 after years of being mothballed, and was demolished shortly after. While small amounts of Shirakawa whisky were seen in the wild at the time of the distillery’s closure, there has not been an official bottling of single malt from the distillery – something which is now being corrected.
This tasting will see the unveiling of the earliest single vintage single malt Japanese whisky ever released – Shirakawa 1958 – and will be the only chance for UK whisky fans to try it.
Hosted by acclaimed Japanese-whisky writer Dave Broom, who will be joined by Stephen Bremner, Managing Director of Tomatin Distillery Co. Ltd and Scott Adamson, Tomatin Distillery Blender and Brand Ambassador. Stephen, intrigued by the history of Takara Shuzo's whisky-making past, spoke to current and past employees which has lead to the rediscovery of this lost distillery. In this tasting, he will share with us the story of Shirakawa, while Scott will cover the history of Tomatin and the connections between the two distilleries.
Join Stephen, Scott and Dave for a walk back through Scottish and Japanese whisky-making history, charting Takara Shuzo’s single malt from its current home at Tomatin Distillery through some of the distillery’s most impressive releases, all the way back to its beginnings at long-lost Shirakawa.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Japanese whisky fans – the only public UK tasting of Shirakawa 1958 hosted by a panel who not only know whisky, but also the history of the distillery, unknown outside of Takara Shuzo until now. Along with that, we’re dipping in to the highest-end of Tomatin's portfolio, with the only UK consumer tasting of Tomatin 50 Year Old, the final tasting of the IWSC Trophy winning Tomatin Warehouse 6 1976 vintage, and a Tomatin 36 Year Old, laid down in the year that Tomatin joined Takara Shuzo.
A tasting with amazing whiskies and stories you won’t hear anywhere else. One not to miss.