Single malt whisky - tasting notes

08 Feb 2010

Whisky Festival Gent 2010

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: * News

I’ve just returned from the whisky festival in Gent. While it’s still a major festival in our (small) country, I can’t help but feeling a bit disappointed for two reasons.

First, because the festival in Gent was held at the same time as Whisky Live in Spa. If festivals want to compete over such a small country, they have to realize that eventually both will lose. Some interesting distributors chose to go to only one festival (e.g. Malts of Scotland was present in Spa, not in Gent). Other distributors didn’t even go to either of the two this year!
The Nectar, one of Belgium’s most interesting distributors and independent bottlers, was not present. Neither were the brands they represent, such as Arran, Karuizawa, Springbank, Duncan Taylor or GlenDronach. There were no Moët Hennesey brands either (Ardbeg & Glenmorangie). Where will this end?

Second, because the organisation decided not to give 5 complimentary coupons with each entry ticket but instead have one free bottle available at every stand. Of course, these were only entry level malts (Macallan 12yo, Glenrothes Select Reserve, etc.) which just made the festival more expensive for whisky lovers who already know the standard stuff. This also meant I couldn’t use the coupons of my girlfriend (who drinks water) – how about a “driver’s ticket”? Overall I had the feeling more cash was needed to buy less quality whisky this year.

As a side note, there seemed to be less new bottlings than other years. Anyway, let’s summarize the things we’ve tasted… (no real tasting notes, because the environment is just not right for it).

 

Old Ballantruan (50%, OB 2009)

The peated version of Tomintoul. Very malty, quite floral and gently peated. Not sure who this is aimed at… fans of Speyside whisky will probably not like the peat but there’s not enough peat to entertain peatheads. Around € 30.

 

BenRiach 18yo Moscatel Tullibardine 1993 Sauternes finish (46%, OB 2009)

Sweet nose with hints of apricots. On the palate very coating and candied with lots of honey. Most of the Sauternes shines through in the finish. Not bad, but we already knew Sauternes can work very well. Around € 45.

 

BenRiach 18 yo Moscatel finish (46%, OB 2009)

Another sweet wine finish, maybe even more succesful than the Tullibardine.  Fruity, sweet. Very round and candied. A perfect match for the toast with haggis that was served at the festival. Around € 60.

 

Yamazaki Sherry cask Yamazaki Sherry cask (48%, OB 2009)

From first fill sherry butts only, said to be 12-15 years old. Very punchy with raisins, cocoa and slightly sourish red fruits (raspberry). Big whisky and the first glass I actually emptied. Around € 70.

 

Connemara Sherry finish (46%, OB 2009)

A limited Small Batch bottling. Sweet notes of dried fruits, balanced with smoke and a light farminess. Rich and promising. A detailed review of this one will follow. Around € 55.

 

Banff 1976 Connoisseurs Choice Benromach Organic ‘Special Edition’ (46%, OB 2009)

Bio whisky. Quite simple with huge hints of breakfast cereals and muesli. Quite a lot of wood as well. Rather mono-dimensional. Not my kinda whisky. Around € 45.

 

Banff 32 yo 1976 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Conoisseurs Choice 2008)

A good Banff with different flavours: flinty notes, fruity notes, toffee, burnt wood… Quite rounded overall. Around € 100. Recommended.

 

Glen Grant 1985 - First Cask - WIN Highland Park 16 yo Calvados ‘Drouin’ finish (46%, Alchemist 2008)

Finished for 2 years in a calvados cask. Honeyed with hints of baked apples. Not much smoke. Uncommon for a Highland Park.

 

Glen Grant 23 yo 1985 (55,8%, First cask – Whisky Import Netherlands 2009, cask #10182, 187 btl.)

Glen Grant the way we like it: very balanced, very fruity with the right amount of spices. Fruit marmalade galore. Around € 130. Highly recommended.

 

Greenore 8 years whiskey Bunnahabhain Toiteach (46%, OB 2007)

A young profile, quite some peat and smoke but very simple. Hints of pears? A bit uninspired. Around € 40.

 

Greenore 8 yo (40%, OB 2009)

Single grain Irish whiskey. Sweet with vanilla and banana. Uncomplicated, light and elegant. A summer’s day whiskey? Around € 30.

 

 

 

I also bought a sample of the legendary Bunnahabhain 1968 Auld Acquaintance and a Macallan 12 Years old HKDNP, a Hong Kong exclusive distilled in the 1970’s. These two will be reviewed in depth. Thanks to Marc Segers for making available his impressive collection of oldies.

Whisky Festival Gent 2010 Ruben Luyten 2010-02-08
  • Dennis Mulder

    Hi Ruben,
    Besides that, it was a wonderful festival. (we helped at the Classic Malts stand)
    My Dutch collegue and I are happy to notice that we were allowed to integrate more (as Dutchies). Thank you for that.

    Gent is a Beautiful town!

    Kind regards, Dennis

  • Charlie

    Glad to hear that you also enjoyed Yamazaki Sherry Cask 48%. It was quite popular here in Taiwan after the first release in May last year.

  • Rob B

    Ruben,

    I totally agree with your comment on the ticket price (no extra drams) and the available “free” drams. Also these kind of festivals should think of the BOB people and introduce a special entrance ticket for them. Now they had to pay a lot for nothing :-(

    rgds
    Rob B

  • http://www.onversneden.com Johan

    Ruben, I had that feeling already the previous years. Gent is a nice festival but no longer on my ‘must-do’ list. That it is planned on the same weekend as Whisky Live is painfull indeed.

  • Maie

    Hi Ruben,

    Just a word regarding the two festivals :WL Spa has been planed on the same date then Gent, not the other way round! WL was always held 3rd in march!

    And for the rest : the organization wants to make as much money as possible, that’s why there are no extra drams.

    a+

    M

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    Hi Mario, thanks for your reaction. I don’t want to blaim Gent for this of course. They can probably work out a solution for next year. Too bad you weren’t there with The Nectar, I guess you are focusing on Spirits in the Sky?

  • Maie

    Hi Ruben

    there is no work out possible, with none of the 2 organizers! We had several (very good) reasons of not attending Gent, and they have NOTHING to do with Spirits in the Sky (6th-7th of november)! As an importer we have to target the total market and not only one festival.
    That’s why we will be in Kortrijk with a big stand.

    For the rest, it would be to much to discuss here ;-)

    a+

    M

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    Let’s do that some other time. See you in Kortrijk ;-)

  • Dirk

    Without judging any of this weekend’s festivals there are in my humble opinion two kinds of “whiskyfestivals”. Those with a high commercial profile, where at the end of the day the goal for the organisers is to have made a big profit. On the other side you have the whiskyevents organised by whiskyaficionados who target different audiences. Their goal is not to make a profit (nor a loss)but to offer people, sharing the passion for the water of life, a great day amongst friends and some unique experiences.

    Food for thought…

  • Maie

    Sorry, but this is way to easy and way to naive! Black and White is the name of a blend, not the way it works in our ‘whiskywonderland”

  • Rannoch Moor

    Hi All,
    I’ve won a ticket through this site (thanks Ruben) and attended both festivals last weekend, SPA friday, Gent saturday. I agree with Ruben’s comments on Gent. It has become expensive as was Leiden. Basic drams, a few small highligths but too much money lost for not that fantastic drams, still had a good time meeting people. SPA surpised me on a positive note. I attended last year on friday, few people then, but quite busy this year. Lost only 20 euro’s and tasted many and splendid drams, Luc Timmermans was a people magnet, but then again he had some fine drams. Stunner of SPA, the Whisky Live Ardbeg bottling, don’t come to many sherry Arbegs around and it was on the spot.

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WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.