Of course, I understood Rhiannon’s reasoning for booting Fergus and I, as she sold tickets for the general entrance to the seminars, not to any one specific seminar. So in essence it was first come, first serve. At the same time, I did put my name on the seminar registration list to ensure I had a spot for the Balvenie tasting. After a few questions from Fergus, myself and another couple, Rhiannon was at her wits end when the male of the couple threw down the race card. Fergus and I just looked at each other in pure disbelief. Luckily it all diffused as quickly as it started, and the couple had a seat in the back. She found me a seat in the front at one of the open “Reserved” seats, which made my day, and Fergus was kind enough to find another seminar to attend.
Like the trip thus far, whenever a problem was encountered, somehow the result always ended up for the better. As such Fergus found the seminar he attended to be very educational and allowed him to meet the fine boys of JMR Whiskies whom we would find later to be a perfect match with the 3 Drunken Celts’ sensibilities. But that comes a bit later, back to MY tasting story…
As I am seated in Ian Millar’s panel, I begin really taking in the surroundings and I focus in on the bottles sitting “on stage” with Ian. And I nearly cried. With joy, of course, for the bottles I see include 2 of the whiskies I had hoped would be on the table and 2 of best whiskies I will have tasted that weekend.
While Ian begins his talk, I find myself tuning in and out as he is simply espousing the virtues of a few drops of water to bloom the whiskies (a trick I had learned with Raz years ago). In front of me are 5 tumblers already poured for tasting. Dear gods the smell alone in that room was heaven, and the colour in the glasses only made it that much more evident that I really was here at the tasting and about to put down the most expensive whiskies I have ever tasted.
As Ian continues, I begin writing down all the bottles and some small notes about the whiskies while I taste them, still not really following along with Ian…
In order I had the following whiskies:
Ian also noted (at the end of the tasting) that they would be releasing a new bottling of The Balvenie New Wood 17yr in April, which should get to the US by May, but that they just happened to have a bottle which would be under the table at the Grand Tasting and would have to be asked for directly (by giving the “password” in order to get a taste. Something even more to look
By the end of the glasses and as Ian was wrapping up, I was in pure heaven. Mind you I was not drunk, but just slightly buzzing with a euphoria more from the palate of the Scotch than the alcohol its self. So I step outside into the halls with the other attendees and
meet up with Raz and Fergus, immediately gloating about the FABULOUS scotches I just had the pleasure of tasting. Apparently Fergus didn’t appreciate that, seeing as he was booted from the tasting where he could have had a 40 year old Glenfiddich. And I rubbed it in every chance I got after that too!
Luckily both Raz and Fergus thoroughly enjoyed their seminars and learned a good bit more about whiskies, ryes, and bourbons than they would have liked to. So I brought them both in to meet Ian and hopefully get him to pour some of the Balvenie 1971 and the Balvenie
30, since I knew Fergus would really enjoy those. After some brief introductions and asking very nicely Ian poured for all of us, and poured a very healthy dram for me of the 1971! Damn near a regular bar pour rather than a tasting. At that point I kind of tuned out Fergus and Raz and enjoyed my scotch, though I do recall Raz being very impressed with the 1971 even though he rarely likes the Balvenie’s expressions.
Now it was time to register for the next seminar session, which ended up biting me in the ass. Since we had waited so long tasting with Ian, when we finally made it to the registration table, there were only two seminars left open. As a favour to Rhiannon, I registered for the one she pushed, since it was obvious she needed help filling that seminar. Turns out it was the Canadian Club Whisky seminar, which didn’t make me overjoyed. Canadian Club, for those not in the know, is not exactly a premier level whisky. In fact during the tasting, the presenter was touting how good of a mixer their whisky is! And that turned me off. As did the infomercial video he played for us. He was a marketing schlub through and through. He had no answers to any of the questions asked, and to top it all off, the whisky was sub-par. Yes, we got button-hooked on this one.
When the seminar was over we were able to make our way to talk with John Glaser of Compassbox Whisky where out of pure luck (and maybe a little sweet talking by Fergus) John poured us some tastes from a plain plastic bottle that he had hand carried over from Scotland. In this bottle was one of his new, as yet unreleased blends of whisky straight from the cask. And it was outstanding. I believe the whisky will be bottled next week, and then released sometime after that, possibly in May. For the life of me, however, I can’t remember what it will be called, though I am sure Raz or Fergus will enlighten me soon.
We thanked John and found the Talisker room. Now the three of us aren’t huge fans of the Talisker normally. That is to say, we like it, but we all have different favourites which puts Talisker on our good list, but not in the top 10, aside from the Talikser 125
(anniversary edition) which is outstanding. And lo-and-behold, they just happened to have a bottle there for the tasting.
So we walked in, and chatted the guys up a bit. Explained, like with the others, what we as the 3DC do and got the conversation ball rolling. Soon enough we meet a good man named “Dirt” (well he has a real name, but it isn’t as interesting) who just happens to be the
Orange County rep for Talisker. A good friend to make indeed. Let’s say at this point that Dirt is the guy to know and his boss is ok with “off invoicing” product…. so we may have an “in” to something here.
Next up…. drinking at Swig, meeting theJamez and his posse, dinner, and a bar with way too many owls.