Whisky Live Sydney 2016

Whisky Live, the first of the three major whisky shows in Sydney was held last weekend at the InterContinental Hotel in the CBD. The show ran over two consecutive days with three sessions, each spread over three and a half hours.

Whisky Live 2016 featured many favourites as well as new expressions to keep punters’ interest. Here are some of the highlights of what was a successful and busy opening night:

The Rare and Old Bar was back allowing the opportunity to enjoy a tasting of expressions that one would not usually come across . The range of over 25 whiskies and bourbon were available in 15ml pours priced from $22 to $184.

  • Port Ellen 1982, 23 yo Douglas of Dramlanrig ($98) – a single cask at 49% ABV, non chill filtered, bottled for the Italian market; a beautiful balance of peat and fruit on the nose which followed through to the palate with the addition of stewed fruits.
  • Highland Park 22 yo 1986 Van Wees ($30) – a bottling at 52.1% ABV from The Netherlands with lots of fruit on the nose,  chewy on the palate with plenty of oak and fruit.
  • Bunnahabhain 32 Year Old 1978 Mission Murray McDavid (53.3% ABV) vintage – selected by Jim McEwan (former Master Distiller at Bruichladdich) for the Mission range. This whisky was matured in Oloroso casks for 32 years and is beautiful and rich on the nose with caramel and lots of oak while the palate is smooth and strong with honey, spices and peat. A stunning whisky.
  • Elijah Craig, Single Barrel Bourbon 21 yo ($28) – a beautiful balance of spice and sweetness with the oak in evidence but not overpowering. A great sipper at 45% ABV, it is a fine example of an aged bourbon that is done well.

The Singleton paired food with whisk. The Singleton 12 yo expression was paired with Twix, where the buttery and biscuity notes along with caramel and chocolate worked well with the malty notes of the whisky. The Singleton Spey Cascade paired with Turkish Delight that matched with the fruitiness of this whisky.

New to the show and popular on the night, Paul John Single Malt from Goa, India showcased 5 expressions. Brilliance aged in American oak with touches of spice and sweetness, Edited which is very lightly peated and the excellent Bold which is well balanced with aromas of peat which strengthen on the palate, Manuka honey sweetness and spice. All three of these expressions are at (46% ABV). The two cask strengths are the Select Cask Classic at 55.2% ABV with sweet notes and the Select Cask Peated at 55.5% ABV with aromas of spice and smoke. Keep en eye out on this range, you’re bound to find an expression to your taste.

At the Starward / New World Whisky Distillery, David Vitale showcased both expressions of the the award-winning single malt along with New World Whisky Limited Release for Vintage Cellars (48% ABV), aged exclusively in PX sherry casks with raisins and fruit aromas, oak on the palate and a long satisfying finish. Dry Fly Distilling, which we featured in 2015, returned to the show with their “Scottish style” American whiskies made of wheat.

The Glenrothes stand always knows how to pack a crowd. The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve is a new Dan Murphy’s exclusive made of 10 vintages and aimed at the intermediate drinker. In its 2nd edition,The Glenrothes 1992 has delicious fruity notes and creamy vanilla. The Glenrothes Peated Cask Reserve is made from unpeated malt but finished in ex Islay casks. The soft peat and stewed fruit make for a good introuction into peated whiskies but not for big peaty Islay whisky fans. Blue Hangar 11th Limited Release, made from blended malt was another winner, with a range of fruity notes and a just a hint of peat.

The all too secretive Finlaggan Islay Single Malt returned with three expressions: the 46% ABV Eilan Mor, a sweet peaty style of whisky, the Old Reserve with two expressions, one at 40%ABV with a Manuka honey nose, barley notes and sweet cereal, and a 58% cask strength expression with an ashy sooty character. If you’ve tried the Finlaggan before at Whisky Live, these are very different expressions.

Over at the Beam Suntory stand, the ranges of Bowmore and Laphroaig were on taste and paired with Wapengo Rocks Oysters. The Laphroaig Quarter Cask and Wapengo Oysters were a match made in heaven. Also on taste, the Ardmore Legacy (40%ABV), lightly peated with grassy notes, and Connemara, the only Irish Peated Single Malt Whiskey.

Also new to the show was The Tipperary Boutique 11 yo Single Malt, The Rising, a small batch Irish whiskey at 47% ABV which unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to taste due to running out of time.

Other spirits of note were the Coole Swan, an Irish Whiskey Chocolate Cream made from Single Malt Irish Whiskey and blended with  White Belgian Chocolate and fresh, natural dairy cream, presented in a replica of Victorian era milk bottles.

Of the all-time favourites, it was good to see Woodford Reserve with their Double Oak and Master’s Collection Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish, and Jack Daniel’s Sinatra, as well as Dalmore, Jura, The Balvenie, Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet and Aberlour

There were some surprises “under the table” for some lucky guests. The Singleton of Glendullan 38 yo (59.8% ABV) which has been matured in re-fill European oak casks, had a wonderful viscous mouthfeel, gentle spice and oak on the palate and the finish. The Kininvie 23 yo from William Grant & Sons brought together dried fruit and spices on the palate with hints of dark chocolate in evidence in the long finish.

Bruichladdich with Octomore 7.1 and (208 ppm) and Octomore 7.3 (169ppm) were also on taste, providing a big satisfying peaty finish to the show.

Food is always a feature at Whisky Live, and this year the generous spread included a selection of sushi and nigari, salumi platters with crackers and pickles, slow roasted wagyu beef rump from the carvery with mustard and sauces, butter chicken and jasmine rice, pulled pork sliders with bbq sauce and gruyere cheese, hard and blue cheese with fruits and nuts, fresh fruit and for dessert, peanut butter chocolate bar with caramelised popcorn.

The vibe at Whisky Live Sydney was friendly and welcoming with enough to capture newcomers as well as whisky enthusiasts’ interest. The convenient and accessible CBD location along with the food offerings made it a most enjoyable whisky experience.

Whisky Live was held in Sydney at the InterContinental Hotel in the CBD on 8 and 9 April, 2016.

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


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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.