Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whisky Round Up - Whisky Show Sydney 2015

The Whisky Show Sydney 2015 has now passed and some of us D.T.W.C. members made an appearance once more.

We have been attending The Whisky Show for many years now and have seen some significant changes as the format builds. For a whisky event it is well priced and the first of the major showcases to be appearing on Sydney's whisky calendar each year.

Held at the Stamford Plaza, Sydney Airport, Mascot, this show saw 3 main event times running from: Friday 4pm to 8pm; Saturday 12pm to 4pm; Saturday 5pm to 9pm. Friday evening was certainly the time to go with approx 250 attendees, while Saturday saw max capacity crowds of 500 attendees at both sessions.

In the time I spent at the show I found the selections of whiskies underwhelming, but when I have tasted as many whiskies as I have through the years this can be expected. There was some crackers to be had and some new releases raising their heads including tasting of the limited re-release Laphroaig 15yo. This is not the 15yo you may remember. It had a very high dryness and flatness to the palate.

For the Brown-Forman appreciators the new Woodford Reserve Double Oaked was a big winner as was the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish (hows that for a title), followed by a very popular Jack Daniels Sinatra Select.

Pernod Ricard unveiled the plans of scrapping the classic Glenlivet 12yo from our Aussie shelves and replacing with the less than impressive Founder’s Reserve which left a heavy heart for myself. Find out more about my thoughts on this here: RIP to a classic. My sorrows were cradled by tasting the Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso packing a punch at 60.7% ABV with a fabulous array of cinnamon, dark chocolate, honey and apricots.

I was mightily impressed with the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon at 55% ABV from Wild Turkey. I will be looking forward to seeing this on our shelves later this year.

For the first time Gentleman’s Cabinet set up shop with a range of Cuban cigars that quite literally flew off the table. I was enviously watching as punters wandered the crowd nosing a cigar while sipping a whisky. No question I will be doing that next year!

Also on display was the new Denver & Liely Whisky Glass. I had been hearing a lot of talk over the last few months on its release and know a few people who have invested the dollars in buying one or tow glasses. Designed to allow multiple nosing levels of appreciation by matching the size of a tumbler to the nose of a sniffer. The concept is certainly interesting to contemplate. On picking up a glass though the weight alone made me shift uncomfortably as it felt awkward and unbalanced but this I am sure is due to being unfamiliar with it. As it was during the break I had a full 30ml of Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso so I transferred my sample into the D&L glass for an experiment . The nose was clearly enhanced even though the suggestion had already been planted. Wrong environment to really be testing the idea  with so many other whiskies around so I will shelf opinions until I can borrow one at some stage. At $50 for a glass it is too pricy to discover I don't like it. Looks fantastic though, especially on a black table cloth and very impressive from a distance. Well done to the Aussie lads for taking on the world with this one.

Lastly we sampled the Starward Shiraz Wine Cask which was delicious and confusing at the same time. Big flavours typical of a heavy sherry cask whisky exploded in the mouth while the stewed bananas, typical of starward single malt, settled in the background. Considering the standard Starward Single Malt is actually the true sherry cask leaves you wondering how long before wine cask truly overtakes sherry in the global market. Go Australia!

Mo√ęt Hennessy had a Ardbeg vaporiser on hand to effectively allow you to inhale Ardbeg 10yo. What is not to love about that?

Our biggest gripe is the location. It just takes too long and it is too far to make your way out to Mascot. Trains through to the airport are expensive each way and busses easily can take over an hour too and from the city with no direct routes outside the city centre.

Access to food in the area is limited to just the inflated prices in the hotels restaurant or a 10min walk to the McDonalds. The Whisky Show have solved some of the food problems in the past with a food bag which guarantees everyone gets their share. Well done on this part.

I would allspice to point out the much more amped up security and restrictions on drunken behaviour this year by the staff at The Whisky Show. Really obviously and tight. I only experienced one or 2 rather intoxicated individuals while serving at the event and as a punter. Well done on this part no doubt.

Overall a great event was had and a fair few whiskies were on show. Things were let down though by what felt like a poor vendor turn out as their presence was clearly down. On the positive side the vendors that were there were swamped beyond belief. I should know as I was helping serve on the  Brown-Forman table during both Saturday sessions.

The Baron