Spirits in the Sky 2011

Yesterday I went to Leuven for the Spirits in the Sky festival (5th edition if I’m not mistaken). It’s organised by our Belgian importer The Nectar so the brands in their portfolio (too many to sum up these days) are the main attraction. It’s a good place to find out about the new stuff that’s going to hit the shelves.


Cardhu 1984 Whisky Agency FunghiFestival highlights

Here are some of them most interesting new things I was able to try. Most of these will be reviewed in depth in the following weeks.

  • Strathmill 1974 (44,4%, Daily Dram)
  • Miyagikyo 1988 for La Maison du Whisky
  • Bruichladdich 5yo vatting by Jim McEwan for The Nectar’s 5th Anniversary, Château d’Yquem finish
  • Glenallachie 38yo 1973 (44%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon cask #11018)
  • Glen Grant 1972 (Whisky Agency “Private Stock”)
  • Cardhu 27yo 1984 (52,6%, Whisky Agency)
  • Port Ellen 27yo 1983 (55,5%, The Whiskyman)



Ardbeg 1974 / 1992 Cadenhead

And two excellent oldies:

  • – Talisker 1957 (53,3%, G&M Cask 1989)
  • – Ardbeg 18yo 1974 (57,7%, Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection 1992, 150th Anniversary bottling)

Of course there were also a few disappointments. Maybe not bad whisky, but expectations were higher than the actual result for the GlenDronach 21yo Parliament (clean but too sticky, too caramelly), the new Bruichladdich 10yo ‘The Laddie Ten’ and sadly also the new official Brora 32yo (see comments).

I was told there would be one more official Brora after this, a Brora 40 years old. Let’s hope it will be outstanding and not priced with Taiwan in mind.




The Whisky Agency masterclass “not yet bottled”

Carsten Ehrlich, the driving force behind The Whisky Agency, brought five samples to the festival from casks that were yet to be bottled. We had a chance to try them (blind) and select our favourite which will be bottled as a special edition Whisky Agency & Spirits in the Sky in the near future. Carsten doesn’t like to host tastings, so Mario Groteklaes had to take his place.

Whisky Agency masterclassThe first three samples were Bowmore 1999 (focused on oily peat, not complex but good drinking whisky), Glen Scotia 1992 (dirty sherry, old-style and definitely not my cup of tea) and a typical Glen Elgin 1984 (similar to the Daily Dram release of last year).

Then there was a terrific Glen Grant 1972 (sherry hogshead) with a superb fruity / jammy nose (cherries, apricot pie, honeysuckle) and a fruity albeit slightly tannic profile in the mouth. Similar to the Glen Grant 1972 bottled for The Whisky Fair 2009.

This Glen Grant was chosen by our tasting committee, although a lot of people preferred sample number 5, a Tomatin 1976. We’ve had quite a lot of these and it’s easy to recognize the tropical fruits. High quality again (some said the best Tomatin 76 so far, especially on the palate) – a close second place.

Keep in mind that all five will be bottled at one time or another (some probably with Liquid Sun or Liquid Library labels). I know many people will look out for the Tomatin but personally I still think the Glen Grant was the best choice!