Saturday, 20 April 2013

Whisky in Leiden

Whisky in Leiden
Stadsgehoorzaal Leiden
Grote Zaal en Breezaal
Breestraat 60
2311 CS Leiden

Saturday, 20th of April 2013. It was a beautiful sunny day, spring has finally arrived...
We went by train to Leiden for the Whisky in Leiden Festival organized by de Druiventuin in Leiden (

As most of the times we were too early there, so decided to look for a nice spot to have something to drink and enjoy a nice lunch. We ended up at a bistro at the waterfront, looking out on the old buildings and windmill. 

This event was only taking place in two sessions, only on the saturday, in an old building used as a music hall. Beautiful building, and the setup was very nice. The big difference to other festivals was that this was only about whisky and not all the extra merchandise around it, that made it more "clean". It had a very good atmosphere and was very nicely organized.


We had to wait a bit in front to enter, and could enjoy the sun a while longer, accompanied with the beautiful sounds of the Bagpipe Player Steve ( After entering there was free use of the wardrobe, toilets, water, bread... They kept filling the water bottles and bread/crackers, and also had some sandwiches free half way through the session, and gave us a ticket for some tea/coffee. Armed with the glass, water, and program we walked around first to see what all the stands had to offer.

There was the possibility also to escape the crowds and enjoy the sun outside. There you just could enjoy your dram. When I had something in my glass that I wanted enjoy a bit longer I just went outside, just relaxing a bit... Just great!

I have set my focus this event more on that I wanted to taste more some expressions from independent bottlers and was also looking for some brands I have not tasted much from. To expand my horizon more and more... I think I was successful in that. Some of them I could not appreciate sadly, but no all can be to my liking ;-) Everybody has it's own preferences. Still I liked a lot... 

Liked the best...

  • Nikka Pure Malt 12 yr
  • Yellow Spot 12 yr
  • Benriach, single cask bottling for, 1976 release, 36 yr old, refil Hogshead
  • The Glendronach, 14 yr, Virgin Oak Finish and The Glendronach, 15 yr, Moscatel Finish, close to each other, liked the Virgin Oak a little bit more...
  • Zuidam - Korenwijn 12 yr Special #2
  • The Ultimate, Bowmore 2002, 10 yr
  • The Ultimate, Glenlivet 1997, 15 yr
  • Penderyn 41 - Madeira
  • Penderyn Portwood
  • Elements of Islay Bn4 - Bunnahabhain
  • Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant, 1963 

Mhmm, no, did not do it for me.....

  • Festival bottling Dailuaine, Bourbon Hogshead, 15 yr
  • Glenmorangie Artein
  • Exclusive Malts Dailuaine 1992, 20 yr
  • Signatory, Alt-A-Bhainne 1991, 21 yr, Hogshead
  • The Irishman, single malt
  • Berry's Own Selection, 1997, Dalmore, 10 yr
  • Chech Republic whisky, GoldCock, 12 yr
  • Duncan Taylor Aultmore, 10 yr
  • Sansibar, Clynelish, 1996,15 yr
  • Kintra, Caperdonich, 18 yr, 1994

Sometimes I just took the time, sat down somewhere and enjoyed the dram, just smelling and tasting. Just enjoying and exploring. Had some lovely talks with people, wandering around with my husband there. 

I have tasted some of The Ultimate bottlings before at home or at friends, and they keep me coming back for more. Reviewing this festival I come to the conclusion I love to explore more the Japanese Whisky's, The Glendronach, Benriach, and especially the Elements of Islay. These are a bit unknown to me. 

The Penderyn I have tasted some at home recently and the 41 was the one I did not had the chance to taste, and their expressions surprised me very much. I like their portwood and madeira finishes. At the festival in Alkmaar I had a taste of the Glendronach Octarine, Original and Revival. Here I got a chance to taste some more expressions. Just beautiful...

The bottlings of Gordon & MacPhial I just start to explore, I have to taste more from them, but they also have some great stuff....! Some of the list above I would love to have at home...
So many lovely whisky's out there, some times at a festival I just do not know where to start. Standing there and looking at the stands, where to start...?

It is very typical, but being there as a woman at a whisky festival, it still raises some eyebrows of some visitors. And some time you see a group of men pointing. But well, just do not care about it really. But some times I just want to say to them "yes, woman can love whisky too, just get used to it" ;-) I like it that more and more woman come to festivals, and all is more equal.

At a stand they direct you very fast to the sweet mellow tasting whisky's sadly as a woman. Because it is crowded sometimes it is hard to understand each other and you end up with the standard short question "what can you recommend?" Because it is the easiest thing to do, and they choose something they think you like. But really that was not the question I wanted to ask...

I have a bit of trouble with just telling them "I'm just looking, and I come back to you in a bit" because the people behind the stands are waiting for me to make a choice what to pour. They want to move on... And I just want to look... I noticed that I really have to learn that. Half of the time at this festival I managed to taste something outside my comfort zone, and I loved it.
I come there to try and learn, expand my knowledge, taste, smell...

My husband also went his way, and walked around, and some times we exchanged some drams when we found something beautiful. Ah well, I will get used to the looks and questions in the end, I only visited a couple of festivals now, and at each the atmosphere was different. Have to stand up a bit more for my self, and try other things, go outside the standard boxes where people place woman in. Doing that at this festival more and more brought me some very very nice whisky's. Looking outside of the box and just exploring, just as in life, can bring you some surprising results. Just do it.


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