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article imageReview: Whisky Live serves up a great show in London Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 22, 2015 in Food
London - Whisky Live is an interactive event that tours a number of major cities. On display are a vast range of traditional and new whiskies. There are tastings, master classes and the the opportunity to discuss all things whisky with global experts.
Whisky Live is an annual event that takes place in several of the world's major cities. It aims to be the "world's premier tasting whisky show", and given the range of whiskies discussed and available to sample, it certainly lives up to this claim. In March each year the event reaches London. Digital Journal paid a visit.
Whisky Live 2015  held during March 2015 in London.
Whisky Live 2015, held during March 2015 in London.
The latest leg of the touring event was held at the Honourable Artillery Company Armoury House in Finsbury, just north of the City of London. This itself is fine a building of character and distinction. The Hounourable Artillery Company forms part of the British Army Reserve.
Honourable Artillery Company Armoury House  the venue for Whisky Live 2015.
Honourable Artillery Company Armoury House, the venue for Whisky Live 2015.
Entry to into Whisky Live includes samples of exhibited whiskies, hot food, served buffet-style, the Whisky Live tasting glass, food and whisky combination samples and the Whisky Live show guide. For so-called VIP guests there are additional food options and more tasting events. Here the extra tasting events are very worthwhile, but the food portions curiously smaller and less interesting than those offered to the visitors paying the standard ticket price.
The mess hall hosted one of the eating places at Whisky Live 2015. It made for a splendid setting.
The mess hall hosted one of the eating places at Whisky Live 2015. It made for a splendid setting.
Inside Armoury House  there are many period pieces and items of interest  such as this stained glass...
Inside Armoury House, there are many period pieces and items of interest, such as this stained glass window.
The exhibition hall offered some forty stands (some big enough to act as full-blown bars) offering whisky from around the world. The majority, as would be expected come from Scotland, however other countries were also well represented.
One of the exhibition stands at Whisky Live  London 2015.
One of the exhibition stands at Whisky Live, London 2015.
This year a number of U.S. companies were exhibiting offering a range of rye (which must be distilled from at least 51 percent rye; Knob Creek is a common example) and corn (made from a mash made of at least 80 percent corn) whiskies, together with some mature, very smooth bourbons (which are better quality corn whiskies.) One "whiskey" that caught the eye was one that used blue corn as the starting ingredient. This was called Baby Blue (prepared from roasted heirloom blue corn.) Although an interesting concept, the whisky itself was non-descriptive and had a rather harsh alcoholic aftertaste.
One of the whiskies from the U.S. called Baby Blue  a corn whiskey.
One of the whiskies from the U.S. called Baby Blue, a corn whiskey.
Whisky from Japan was represented by a large booth from Nikka, who had some 10 whiskies on display. Here there were two interesting single malts on offer among the various blends - Yoichi and Miyagikyo. Of most interest was Miyagikyo which had a fragrant aroma, produced by steam heat distillation.
What the doctor ordered? Digitial Journal s science editor-at-large Tim Sandle reporting (and sampli...
What the doctor ordered? Digitial Journal's science editor-at-large Tim Sandle reporting (and sampling) from Whisky Live 2015.
The Asian market was also represented by whisky from India and from Taiwan. Indian whisky has improved a great deal in the last decade, with Amrut 'Portonova' Single Malt Indian Whisky a stand out. Digital Journal's reporter was less familiar with whisky from Taiwan. As with Japanese whisky, a fair range was on offer. Most whisky from Taiwan has only been commercially available since 2008. Here the leading distillery is Kavalan, and the best to sample is probably one called King Car Conductor. This whisky is pleasing on the palate, with mango throughout, spicy barley, gentle oak and creamy richness.
In terms of the vast range of Scottish whisky on offer (and here there must be of been close to 1000 different types), Tullibardine Sovereign was one of the best. This whisky had a spiced, creamy finish, with plenty of vanilla and cinnamon. There was also a good range on offer from Tobermory and an interesting new one called Black Ram, for those who like sweet, honeyed whisky.
Another view of Whisky Live. Some 2 000 people attended each day of the three day event.
Another view of Whisky Live. Some 2,000 people attended each day of the three day event.
Some of these whiskies could be sampled at small scale tastings.
A woman is about to sample a rare scotch at a private tasting in the VIP lounge at Whisky Live 2015.
A woman is about to sample a rare scotch at a private tasting in the VIP lounge at Whisky Live 2015.
As well as whisky,a few rums, gins and other spirits were marketed.
El Dorado rum  one of the other spirits on offer a Whisky Live 2015.
El Dorado rum, one of the other spirits on offer a Whisky Live 2015.
The highlight of the day was a master class is whiskies from Scottish Islands. Six premium whiskies were available to sample, including ones from Arran, Islay and Mull. The highlights included a distiller's edition Oban, which was a little less sweet than the standard 14 year-old Oban available in most shops. This edition imparted bountiful notes of cooked fruit and wine-like qualities. Oban, the town, occupies a beautiful setting in the Firth of Lorn.
The islands of Scotland whisky master class in progress at Whisky Live 2015.
The islands of Scotland whisky master class in progress at Whisky Live 2015.
Six Scottish whiskies ready for tasting at the master class. The whiskies were from Aran  Oba  Islay...
Six Scottish whiskies ready for tasting at the master class. The whiskies were from Aran, Oba, Islay and Mull.
Also of interested was a peated Kilchoman. On the nose, other than the light smoke, was plenty of peat, along with buttery milk chocolate and candied peels. With the taste, there was for this reviewer at least, weet peat and slightly drying oat cakes.
However, the best of those island whiskies on offer was an Ardbeg, from the island Islay. The distillery, which is part of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy group, produces a heavily peated whisky using malted barley sourced from the maltings in Port Ellen. On offer today was a type that can only be purchased direct from the distillery shop on Islay. This is bottled as Kildalton. The whisky was distilled in 1980 and release in 2004, with only 1,300 bottles released. This rare whisky was something magnificent.
On the nose, Kidlalton delivers a buttery, creamy, herbal, blast, with perhaps a hint of pine. The palate delivers characteristic smoke with spices. The finish is delightful: salty, medicinal, tarmac and chili pepper.
Most of the whiskies available to sample could be purchased. As well as whisky various whisky themed gifts and books were available to buy. Perhaps the best thing is the chance to mingle and discuss the finer points of whisky with different people. The people attending were a mix of different ages and there was a fair balance of both men and women.
Whisky Live presents good value and if you like whisky and the roadshow is coming to a city near you it is worth paying a visit. The best thing is being able to sample anything and this helps to overcome the sometimes bewildering array on offer in shops and on-line, and to make the best choice according to your palate.
The crowds were busy at Whisky Live 2015.
The crowds were busy at Whisky Live 2015.
Digital Journal covered the London step of Whisky Live back in 2013. A review of this event can be found here.
More about whisky live, whisky live 2015, London, Whisky
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