The Birmingham Whisky Club Blog :: Richard’s Festival Favourites

February 22, 2017

On The Blog

How could the blog NOT focus on some festival favourites, with March being the season of Whisky Birmingham! As you can guess, we’re a bit mad down here at whisky HQ – but we’re excited for the festival (which is now just over a week away). Anyway, over to Rich…

This month I’m mainly looking forward to the Birmingham Whisky Festival! Tickets are now sold out for the main festival but if you’ve already got a ticket there are some remaining Masterclasses! I will of course be there on the day and will be running mini interviews on the day with anyone that is interested.
The Penderyn Madeira and the Connemara Peated Whiskey were two of the first whiskies I tried from outside of Scotland and both were tried at festivals. I think that this is probably the best thing about festivals, getting to try all those whiskies that you’ve been looking at but not gotten around to trying a bottle! At the other end are the rare bottlings that you rarely find outside of festivals. The last bottle is one that I was fortunate to pick up last year from Bartels and is one of my favourites sampled in 2016, Williamson 2006, 8 year old.

What: Penderyn Madeira Finish, 46%, NAS Welsh Whisky 

Where: The Wellington, 37 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham B2 5SN

Nose: Sweet with herbal overtones. I get Pear Drops but I seem to be getting that a lot on sweeter whisky recently!

Palate: Biscuit and toast. Sweet initial hit tempered by black pepper on the edge of the tongue.

Finish: Fresh notes hinted in the nose return as hay and tobacco leaf but also something distinctly crisp in the finish.

Penderyn have stuck with me from my first taste nearly 5 years ago. Since launching in 2004 they’ve really gone from strength to strength. As a point of random Trivia, their whisky is made in a single copper-pot still designed by Dr David Faraday, descendent of the Victorian scientist Michael Faraday. If you enjoy the Madeira Finish you may also want to try the Port Finish.

What: Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey, 40%, Irish Whiskey 

WhereThe Wellington, 37 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham B2 5SN

Nose: Heather and a spicy sweetness. I’d almost say cinnamon actually!

Palate: I like peated whisky and this definitely has that characteristic but unlike an Islay style whisky it is smooooooth peat, like it has been mixed with custard and subtle smoke. Coats the mouth a little also and really develops.

Finish: Finish tempers towards a honey note. Shorter than I’d like but I’d say it is a medium length.

If you find the finish a little short and just want to add a shot of adrenaline into the whole drink, try the cask strength version. 57.9% is a marked jump up in alcohol and the peat really is a lot more prominent. I’ve had more success finding it in duty free or in bars than anywhere

What: Bartels Williamson 2006, 8 year old, 46%, Single Malt Scotch Whisky 

Where: Not currently available, but check out the selection on their website.

Nose: Sweet and heavy smoke with medicinal notes. Once you’ve tasted, add a few drops of water and smell again. I got a lot more (Bacon burning in a pine fire with some sherry barrels waved at it).

Palate: Pepper, peat, smoother in mouth than you’d expect. Earthy and nutty also with a hint of flint.

Finish: Warm and long as the bourbon barrel comes through. Breathe in over the top of it to get a resurgence of the smoke.

This whisky was a single cask bottling from a refill ex bourbon cask. Williamson is presumably a reference to Elizabeth Leitch “Bessie” Williamson who became Distillery manager of Laphroaig on the death of Ian Hunter in 1954 and was at the forefront of single malt whisky, in particularly Islay Single Malts, being brought to market following World War 2.

P.S. If you’re interested in finding out more about Bessie Williamson, head to our Whisky Women (International Women’s Day) tasting in March! Click here for details.