The Whisky Live Paris 2013 did not lack Masterclasses. I attended in some of them.
For non-orienting in the topic I might add that these additional activities are in groups. They may relate to general issues of whisky or a particular distillery, but they are always connected with the tasting.
Places are limited, so to avoid disappointment you need to book in advance.
The first Masterclass – Whiskies du monde – Blind Tasting was guided by Salvatore Maninno.
Blind tasting is a very nice idea. You can think about whisky, its nose, flavors, finish, without any prior assumptions and prejudices associated with a particular distillery, age, type of casks, etc. It is a very good exercise, improving tasting abilities.
In my case, this Masterclass was tasting not only blind but also deaf, as was held in French, which I do not speak. But, it is not that bad. I just had to explore the contents of the glass myself. At the end the secret has been revealed, we tasted: Macmayra from Sweden, Penderyn from Wales, Sullivans Cove and Hellyers Road from Tasmania, The New Zealand Whisky, Armorik from France and Amrut from India.
Another Masterclass was led by Dave Broom from Whisky Magazine and Marcin Miller from No. One Drinks Company – the owner of the remaining stocks of Karuizawa. Unfortunately I didn’t take part in these classes, I started too late with booking tickets and Masterclass has already been sold out. Too bad. However, by the courtesy of my friends I could try a few Karuizawas – vintages 1971 and 1977, bottled in 2012 for Taiwan and 1973, 1974 bottled in 2013. All were delicious.
Dalmore Masterclass was performed by Richard Paterson. It was all in his acting style, including spilling the whisky around the room in order to disinfect the glass. We tasted several expressions of Dalmore, including the very interesting finishes – Sherry, Cabernet Savigon, Marsala and Porto – all cask strength. I liked these single malts, they were much better than the official bottlings.
The Distillery Manager Keith Cruickshank performed Masterclass with Benromach whisky. This distillery is owned by independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail, so there was an opportunity to try some interesting versions of whisky from the ’60 – Glenlivet 1962, 8 years old, cask strength, Glen Grant 1960, 8 years old, cask strength.
Charles MacLean performed Masterclass with “Angels Share”. He talked about making this movie and gave some behind the scene stories. By the way he carried out Balblair whisky tasting. Balblair is the place that hosted major scenes in the film.
There were Balblair 19 years old, 58% ABV – offered only in distillery, Balblair 1988, 1989 and star of the meeting Balblair 1965, 48 years old, 43% ABV, which matured in Ardbeg’s cask.
Last Masterclass I attended was run by Dave Broom and Charles MacLean, and concerned sherry casks. Very informative lectures about aging whisky in all kinds of sherry casks. I learned that before the year 1982 it was permissible to add to the casks some Paxaret (I’m not sure of the spelling) (mixture of strong sherries), with a strong coloring effect and a taste of sherry. Today, such additives are not permitted, except, of course, caramel, which can be add for colour.
We tasted Oloroso Sherry La Bota de Oloroso, 21% ABV, Sherry Fino and whisky aged in sherry casks – Mostowie 35 years old, Linkwood 1997, Yamazaki 1993, bottled in 2012 – single cask – excellent, beautifully balanced. We were also comparing, coming from the same period, 26 years old Bunnahabhains, matured in different sherry casks.
It is also worth mentioning that most of sherry casks are made of American oak, not as is often said European. Whereas the wood of fresh sherry cask contains 5 to 10 liters of sherry.
All the Masterclasses were very enjoyable.
In the next post I’ll write about tasting collectables whiskies.