Sunday, 17 February 2013

Hielander Whisky Festival & Masterclass Robin Laing - Alkmaar

On the 16th of February 2013 my husband and I visited the Hielander Whisky Festival in Alkmaar.

My husband has been doing the festivals, tastings etc for a couple of years now, but I have started to participate more and more since 2011, and OMG, what a joy this is... After our travels through Scotland last year I have caught the "virus" lets say. 

We have visited many distillery's and tasted many samples of different whisky's to develop our pallet. I have learned a lot over the last year, and know that I still have a lot to learn. So much to see, to do and explore... 

Watching video's, reading blogs, magazines, visiting distilleries, going to festivals, masterclasses, events ect. Together we are exploring this all, and enjoying the beautiful products and trips, and meeting lovely people. Together learning... Love it!

This festival was the 3rd one I went to. In this blog I want to capture my experiences, also for my own records. My husband has made record already of many tasting notes on his site and his other whisky site. These were much tasted together. But these I will not review here further, for those you can better look at his sites, I will try to put down here my experiences from now on... Please bear with me, I am new at this, comments welcome, this is just my ramblings about this, and looking forward to hear you story's... 

Arriving in Alkmaar by the Grote Kerk we were welcomed by a Scottish Piper. The mood was set, while we were waiting to enter the church. My husband and I decided to go a bit earlier to Alkmaar and make a day out of it. So traveling by train and bus so we both could enjoy everything fully, we arrived early in Alkmaar and walked around a bit, taking in the sites.

Having a lunch before going to the church, ready for the festival. Most of these events seem to take place in churches and monasteries, gives it a good atmosphere also I think. This is a very big church and has beautiful details in it.

Last year we went to the Summer Spirit festival in The Hague and the Whisky Live in the Hague. I must say, that those were okay. But the Hielander Festival was super against those. The atmosphere was super, there were a lot of people but not to much, and there was room and time with the stands to ask questions and have a look around.

After entering and receiving a glass, laynard, and booklet for the tasting notes, we walked around a bit to see what was where. Starting at the stand of De Monnik for a taste of some Glendronachs. Beautiful stuff! The husband went for the Revival, and for me it is a tie between the Octarine and the Original...

- Glendronach 8 yr. Octarine
- Glendronach 12 yr. Original
- Glendronach 15 year Revival

Wandering the different stands we were curious to taste some of the Japanese whisky's. These we never had. At the stand of Maltstock we had a sample of the Yamazaki 12 yr. and the Hakushu 12 yr.

The Hakushu reminding me more aff blossom and light fruits, but the Yamazaki had a bit more spice and depth to it. Maybe see if we can find some samples of the Japanese whisky's to have a good tasting at home.
At the stand of the Bodega we found a bottle of Glentauchers, 6 yr old, from the cask strength collection of Whisky Partner. This one was full of flavours and sweetness. Beautiful! Because there where only 360 bottles they say, I do not think we can find this one for a good price on the shelves somewhere...

After this we made a sidestep to whisky beer from Bierland. Must say, not for me, but the husband was a bit more enthusiastic about this. And maybe a nice thing to have a tasting of whisky beers with the guys he mentioned. A day out for them maybe to Bierland.....

Next to Bierland was the stand of the LVMH. The Glenmorangie range I find very beautifull and full of flavours. I like the Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, and the Nectar D'Or very much.

But here we also found the Glenmorangie Ealante. Wow! This one have to add to the collection. A beautiful complex mix of flavours, and a good long taste. It is the fourth annual release in the Private Edition range. The Ealanta is a 19 Years Old Glenmorangie, fully matured in virgin American white oak casks.

Accros from them the Glenrothes stand. I have tasted some of those a small year ago on the Summer Spirit festival. I must say, I was not very content with those, a bit "weak" if that is the correct word. Maybe those are not for me. I tried the Glenrothes 1995 here, just to see if my taste and experience was the same as last year. Sadly it was... Have to come back to these maybe in a year or so...

At the Maxxium stand we where suprised by the Naked Grouse from the Famous Grouse. Beautiful, smooth, vanilla, abricots, maybe some spiced cake? A beautiful piece to have in the cupboard... At the same stand The Balvenie. I just love much of their whisky's. Here I had a taste of the Signature 12 year old. Also we tried here a bourbon. We have to try it to know what we think of it, was our idea. But no,no,no.... that was not good. Maker's Mark is not for us. Okay, do not rule out the whole bourbon range directly, so maybe go back to them in a while. But for now, stay with whisky. Next to the bourbon, which we have to explore more, so we also would like to do that with rums....

Further along we found a Coopers Choise - Glendullan 1998 12 years old. It has a port wood finish. I found it a bit citrus and dry to my taste. Nice, but not a wow.


And then it was time for the masterclass with Robin Laing (The Whisky Bard) There was a very nice collections of whisky's and accompanied with some music and poems it was a super! The songs and poems were matched to the drams, so you could image your self being there, with the distillery's.... Beautiful whisky's bottled by the Malts of Scotland.


- Bruichladdich 1988, 54.3 abv, sherry bottled, 2012
- Glenturret 1977, 47.4 abv, bourbon bottled, 2012
- Arran 1996, 56.3 abv, sherry bottled, 2013
- Bowmore 1999, 61.2 abv, bourbon bottled, 2011
- Port Charlotte 2001, 63.3 abv, sherry bottled, 2012

My favorites were the Bruichladdich 1988 and the Glenturret 1977. These had flavours like raisins, gingerbread, a hint of christmas pudding, fruits, and a bit of fudge maybe. The Arran was a bit to much Granny Smith apple for me, sharp through the 56,3 abv, but I had a hard time making out more in this then green apples, light citrus, apple syrop, raisins...

The Bowmore and the Port Charlotte where a surprise to me, because I tend much not to like peated whiskys. A year ago my nose disagreed with just a little hint of it, and I am noticing that through tasting and learning, I am starting to appreciate the peat more and more. This I like because I try to expand my range of smell and taste.

Last year on our trip through Scotland we collected a lot of miniatures, and in this way we had the opportunity to taste a lot of different kind of whisky's. Tasting with the two of us, or with friends enjoying a dram. Having fun that is the most important thing. So much to discover, so much to see.

We had a very good time, and enjoyed some fine whiskys and met some great people.
Between the sampling we had some nice treats from the Hielander restuarant. Some bread with salmon, and Cock-a-leekie soup, and accompanied by the songs of Robin Laing. It all was organised very nicely, and looked great. Great atmosphere, looking forward off coming back here.

Last year we visited the Clynelish distillery and fell for their beautiful product. So when we heard that the festival botteling was a Clynelish, we just had to try that one. Distilled 1997, bottled, 2012, Bourbon hogshead, 58,2%. Looking forward to tasting that one.

After a good dinner it was time to go back to the train station...

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