The Whisky Fair
at Limburg is aptly named as it is, undoubtedly, in my
opinion at least, the Messiah or Mother of all whisky festivals.
A couple of others may come close, but when you're a confirmed
whisky anorak it's right up there as the place to be if you want
to find something over and above the usual festival offerings.
As usual, I arrived in town on the Thursday before the fair so I
could wander around, camera in hand and enjoy the whole
atmosphere of this lovely old town. The actual festivities
started for me with our annual Maniacs' dinner on the Friday
evening which is always a true highlight with various good
friends joining us and it isn't too many minutes before food
orders are taken and various bottles seem to mysteriously appear
onto the table, in a do help yourself kind of way.
Port Ellen or
became the question on most of our lips. The drams in question
were specifically a 1982 26y Signatory Cask Strength (decanter)
Port Ellen at 58.4% (Cask No.1524) and a G&M Reserve 1969
Longmorn bottled for Van Wees:
to be said that both were magnificent but the Longmorn just
edged it for me with 92 points over the Port Ellen's stunning 91
points. In fact I came very close to giving the Longmorn a 93,
it was so good. Now I can't wait to try another 1969 Longmorn
which sits on my desk at home as one of many promising samples
from the pilgrimmage, but that's another story for later.
Other highlights of
our Maniacal dinner?
certainly not the beer, that's for sure as the onwer's wife
asked "what would you like to drink?" "A beer please" says I, to
which the following question comes back; "Bitburger or Veltins?"
I don't suppose you have any Augustiner or Tegernseer? ... no,
silly question, let's not go down that route. I know they
tolerate our whisky anorakness as those bottles appear on the
dinner table, but to bring a case of Bayern's best too..............
then to ask if they could cool it in the freezer for a while
..... as I said, there are limits and at least the Bitburger
arrived in a real, albeit slightly small 40cl beer glass, unlike
the Veltins which adorned an equally small goldfish bowl on a
But what of our
other drams on the table?
Spirit of Scotland Teaninich had a stunningly good and fresh
fruity nose (think apples & pears), but the palate was quite
weak and slightly watery, damn the 40% abv. A 1964-2005
Glenburgie was a real cracker with a rich dark, sherried
fruitiness and a lovely typically characteristic light
floweriness (for this distillery) in the background. Two more
absolute stunners were a Coleburn 1983 26y Cask No.1963 at 48.6%
from Exclusive Malts and a Glenallachie 1973-2012 Cask No.12047
from Malts of Scotland. I'll publish my full tasting notes in my
distillery pages later, but as for scores; 82, 87, 88, 88
respectively. There were more offerings on the table, they just
seemed to keep appearing, but at this point I'd given up on
trying to keep track of them with tasing notes and pictures, suffice to say a grand and Maniacal evening was had by all and
I'm looking forward to next year already.
Saturdays have been
last couple of years and I was seriously considering not going
to the fair on Saturday this year, but we all have our cross(es)
to bear and I know I'd never forgive myself if I missed out on
the Holy Grail by enjoying myself around town instead of
suffering the penance of The Whisky Fair. OK then, I'll
compromise by looking in a little later, let the first mad rush
calm down and then pop in after lunch for a couple of drams
........ So here I am, the fair opens at 11am and at 10.30 I'm
in a queue of around 300 people at one of the (were there four?)
entrances. Hmm, that's promising, the queue was at least twice
as long last year. So it came to pass that 20 minutes after
opening time I attained the lofty position of 'in the doorway',
paid my €10, received my festival plan and glass and found to my
surprise that I could actually circumnavigate the throngs of
fellow pilgrims. Amazing, it's Saturday, yes it's busy, very
busy, but manageable and I proceeded to do what I like best with
wallet, empty sample bottles and camera at hand.
As usual Sunday was
even more manageable as I started the day with a tea, yes really,
a tea as I caught up with fellow Maniac Charles MacLean and
Adelphi's Alex Bruce in sunshine on the festival's terrace. A
very civilised way to start the day indeed. So, the euros
continued evaporating, the camera clicking and the sample
bottles filling in a typically Limburg way. Another Sunday
highlight was our Malt Maniacs & Friends meet-up which I'd
arranged as a wee afternoon soiree so that we could put real
faces to people we've only really 'met' through our facebook
page. Thanks to all for joining in and I think this could become
an annual fixture for us. I'm looking forward to next year
So my cup floweth
least my desk is brimming with the fruits of my labour of
Limburg, but what of the Holy Grail? I fear this will be a
flight of folly as Dunglass and Islebrae are about as common as
rocking horse doodahs and Killyloch just requires too many Euros
for my impoverished wallet, but I live in hope.
Slàinte Mhath and
here's to next year.