As you all know my passion is gin, however when invited for an evening of whisky with Fentimans and the Whisky Lounge, I decided to cheat on gin. To make sure you get a balanced review I brought my friend Anne along too. She loves whisky and was happy to guest write this post for me! Read on to hear about our tasting and what you can expect at the Whisky Weekender 11-13 May at Oval, London.
*Full disclosure: Anne and I were invited to the Whisky event & Whisky Weekender in return for this blog, which is an honest review of our experience*
Cheating on gin with Whisky
Anne on whisky:
Monday evenings are generally dry, home affairs after a weekend of fun. But, I do love me some whisky, so when Katie invited me to an event hosted by The Whisky Lounge at the Punch Bowl in Mayfair, I thought well, why not?
Hosted by Amanda and Eddie Ludlow (co-owners of The Whisky Lounge) to promote the upcoming Whisky Weekender in London, we were greeted by Ruaridh Aitken from Fentimans. Guy Rocheworth from The Whisky Lounge was at the bar, mixing a selection of cocktails featuring the spirit of the hour.
I chose a delicious Whisky Sour to cleanse my palate for the tasting to come.
The whisky talk:
The evening opened with a roving presentation by Doug McIvor from the eponymous St. James’s spirit merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd. McIvor delighted us with many a (tall) tale, while sharing his path toward producing the blends from Berry Bros we would taste that evening. Eddie followed up with some general whisky information for those less experienced in this delicious spirit. Having lived in Scotland and hailing from the fine rye producing nation of Canada, I know my way around this golden liquid, but for those who don’t, let’s talk a bit about blends.
Blended whiskies often get a bad rap, but there are some excellent examples on the market that won’t break the bank in the same way a single malt can. They are also a great way to find out what kind of whisky you like – from light to peaty. There are two varieties: blended whisky typically combines a straight or single malt whisky with less expensive grain whiskies; and blended malts combine single malts only, from different distilleries. All blends must contain two or more whiskies.
The whisky tasting:
Under the direction of McIvor, we tasted four blended malts offered by Berry Bros & Rudd, from light to peaty and running the gamut of styles. The first was their Blue Hanger blend, named after the best dressed man of the 1930s (and also a loyal customer), William Hanger. Now on blend number 11, this version contains 5-6 distilleries, and it was McIvor’s wish for this blend to encapsulate the honey, nuts, banana and melon flavours typically found in Speyside single malts.
The second blend was a classic sherry cask featuring malts from three distilleries. It had a concentrated orange / citrus flavour with a nutty aftertaste, and was my favourite of the evening. Our third tasting blend was a peated cask, and McIvor was able to reveal the malts used: Glenrothes, Glengarry, and Ardmore (aged in ex-Laphroig barrels). I am not a huge peat fan, but this was on the lighter end of the spectrum, with a very approachable smokey flavour.
The final blend of the evening was an Islay blend, and McIvor wouldn’t reveal in this case how many whiskies make up its mixture. It is a quite strong and peat-y blend, but after adding a bit of water to the mix the flavour became more subtle, with hints of vanilla. On that topic – don’t be afraid to add a bit of water to your whisky! Every whisky is different, and there is no shame in wanting something a little less strong. In fact, often adding a dash of water can reveal and open up whole different flavour profiles in the spirit that weren’t available before.
The Whisky Weekender:
The evening ended with a rousing quiz… our team didn’t win, but we did leave excited for more whisky! Luckily The Whisky Lounge has us covered with the upcoming Whisky Weekender in London from 11-13 May at Kennington Oval. Berry Bros & Rudd, Fentimans and a whole lot more will be present to share over 100 different whiskies from Scotland and beyond. Perfect for whisky fanatics or the whisky curious (you’ll be sorted with a Tinder-esque swipe left or right app at the door!) Tickets start from £25 and book quickly if you want to attend workshops and masterclasses.
Looking forward to seeing you all there!
Ps Katie says they also have a Gin Lounge if you don’t want to cheat on gin! Bombay, Tanqueray 10 and Plymouth gin will all be there.