The Whisky Show 2015 Review

The World of Whisky’s Whisky Show returned for 2015 at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport in Mascot. The show ran over two consecutive days coinciding with World Whisky Day allowing attendees to raise a few drams in celebration.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

The show was a successful event with a good vibe among guests and exhibitors with enough new whiskies to taste over the four hour period. Unlike the previous year, every attendees was given a food bag consisting of sandwiches, muffins, cheese and biscuits and crisps. Water stations were regularly replenished along with the bowls of pretzels which came in handy in between tastings.

Below are the highlights of some of the new whiskies on taste:

Woodford Reserve presented their new Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, the first permanent addition to the brand. The whiskey is finished in heavily toasted and lightly charred new barrels which intensifies the vanilla, caramel notes resulting in a richer and more luxurious mouth feel with tannins.

Another standout was Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish, the latest edition from the Masters Selection. The bourbon is finished in Pinot Noir casks for a little over a year giving enhanced dry cherry, raspberry and intense flavours with a chewy and dry finish.

Over at Glenrothes, once you made your way through the eager crowd, your reward awaited with Glenrothes Robur Reserve (40% ABV) a travel retail expression with a high percentage of first fill Oloroso sherry. The sherried Speyside character finishes with delicious with toffee notes and creme brulee. The Glenrothes Alba, a kosher whisky straying a little from the regular Glenrothes style, is aged exclusively in ex bourbon barrels. Pale straw in colour, with classic Speyside notes, it packs a punch for its 40% ABV.

Glendalough Irish Whiskey made its debut with three expressions: Glendalough Double Barrel (42% ABV), a very sweet whiskey with honey and butterscotch made from single grain and aged in American Bourbon barrels and finished in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. Glendalough 7 yo and Glendalough 13 yo intensify the flavour progressively with the 13 yo providing a good balance of spice, fruit and oak notes.

The Glendalough Poitin range (pronounced Potcheen), claims to be the first original distilled drink and comes in three expressions: Glendalough Premium Poitin (40% ABV), Glendalough Sherry Cask Finish Poitin (40% ABV) and the Glendalough Mountain Strength Poitin at 60% ABV. Traditionally made from malted barley, sugar beet and potatoes, the moonshine style of spirit is an acquired taste possibly best enjoyed in cocktails.

New from The Glenlivet single malt is The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve (NAS), said to have whiskies aged between 8 and 12 years. Classic Speyside character is prominent with tropical fruit notes, medium length but a very thin palate. This entry level to the Glenlivet range which is replacing The Glenlivet 12 yo is sadly unremarkable.

There were two new strong contenders from the new Glenlivet Nadurra range. Both NAS, The Glenlivet Nadurra First Fill (59% ABV) is matured in first-fill American white oak casks. Pale gold in colour, aromas of sweet pears and vanilla, tropical pineapple and banana on the palate. Medium finish with subtle peat and a hint of spice. The other is The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso (60.7 % ABV) matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks. Robust sherried fruit and nutty flavours explode on the mid palate but finish short.

Aberlour 18 yo also impressed. Aged in predominantly sherry casks, this smooth fruity expression from Aberlour has peach and apricot subtleties with a long finish and fine oak. In comparison, from independent bottlers, the Old Particular Aberlour 21 yo (51.6% ABV) is another impressive expression best described as Aberlour on steroids.

Over at the BenRiach stand, it was like a mini masterclass with Douglas Cook presenting the BenRiach range. Highlights include the BenRiach 16 yo finished in PX sherry casks and the peated BenRiach Septendecim 17 yo.

With Lucie Stroesser, Sales manager with Isle of Arran Distillers at the stand, Arran was well represented  with several expressions on taste including the Arran 12 yo Cask Strength (53.2% ABV), full-bodied with robust sherry notes and a chocolate and spice finish. The Arran Port and Amarone finishes were also on taste but alas not the Sauternes finish.

Glenglassaugh presented Revival and Evolution, an approachable range of single malts from the Highlands with surprisingly sweet notes. The Glenglassaugh Torfa was the pick, a dry and peated expression aged in ex bourbon casks.

Blue Hanger blended malt from Berry Bros & Rudd is worth a mention. This 9th release is a balance of fruity Speyside notes with orange peel, vanilla and finishing with a good measure of smoke.

Due out in September, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon (55% ABV) is well keeping an eye out for. Rich on the palate, it explodes with caramel and vanilla notes with a lingering finish.

Knob Creek Bourbon has been awarded “Best Bourbon” award in 2015 but it was Knob Creek Single Barrel that stood out for its robust flavours, big bold and oaky with a chewy mouth feel.

Australian whisky was represented by Starward who featured their newly released Starward Wine Cask Edition 1 which we reviewed earlier, and Nant with their Bourbon Wood and Sherry Wood expressions.  Kavalan Whisky from Taiwan was at the show providing another opportunity to taste their Solist Fino and Vinho finishes.

Many other whiskies were on taste that we have previously reviewed including Laphroaig with the Opinions Wanted campaign, The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Hakushu, Ledaig, Hudson Whiskey and Bruichladdich.

Gentleman’s Cabinet presented their range of Cuban cigars and Denver Liely introduced their whisky glassware. Ardbeg offered visitors a novel way to experience Ardbeg 10 yo by inhaling the vapours from the Ardbeg Haar where haar refers to the mist that comes off the moors in Scotland.

Until next year.

The Whisky Show was held at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport in Mascot on 16 and 17 May, 2015.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.