Top five lessons from ‘The Whisky Exchange Show 2017’ with Tomasz Slawinski

October 26, 2017

On The Blog

Jura all for one

Ah Jura.  The whisky that tastes of nothing.  Famous for being cheap at supermarkets and the one that everyone used to quite like before they found whisky that actually tasted of anything.  Robin turned to me and said “pah, Jura, it’s rubbish isn’t it”.  I said “well, yes, it is a bit.  However I don’t think it’s actually terrible, I think if they did an old release, at cask strength, it might be decent”. Robin, fifteen whiskies in, then approached the stand “oi, mate, your whisky is rubbish, why don’t you release a cask strength old version that’s actually any good” he didn’t say, because he’s polite, and waits until 30 whiskies to get belligerent.  However he did manage to come back with two samples of “one and all”, a 20 year old cask strength Jura that’s seen some weird casks (sparkling cabernet franc anyone?).  I was proven right, as I always am, because it’s actually really good.  The price isn’t ridiculous either, £120 for a distillery edition cask strength 20 year old.  The lesson to be learned here is even distilleries you might not always get on with can do expressions you love.

Octomore 6.3

Octomore have a marketing problem.  They are,their marketing will tell you,the world’s peatiest whisky.  Their PPM is higher than David Cameron’s forehead.  As I’m sure you’re aware, peat imparts smoke.  Therefore, higher PPM, logic dictates, will give a smokier whisky. However, it doesn’t.  Laphroaig 10 is a smokier whisky than octomore, so is Kilchoman, in fact, there’s plenty of whisky smokier than octomore.  Whilst it does have a smokey hit, this isn’t a pure smoke bomb by any means. It is however, gorgeous.  Peat, alcohol, fruit (from the various wine casks), layers of complexity, it’s an amazing dram.  And it sells out sharpish, if you see it, enjoy, just don’t expect it to be all smoke, it’s so much more than that.  Lesson two, always ignore the marketing.

Balcones Brimstone

I notice the chap feeding me whisky has a Texas drawl.  “So, do you work at the distillery?” I ask, “yes, I’m the head distiller”, replies Jared Himstedt, whisky supremo at Balcones distillery.  He took it very well, I’m guessing head distillers of craft American distilleries aren’t quite in David Beckham levels of recognisability.  My favourite expression of theirs is the Brimstone, which tastes like liquid barbecue, and Texans know a thing or two about barbecue.  It’s made by smoking the actual whisky, rather than the grain, which is mental, but it really works.  Jared’s first love is malt and Scotch, so whilst their Texas single malt wasn’t doing it for me yet, I’m excited to see how it progresses.  Lesson Three, always be nice to people pouring you whisky.

Macallan 3rd edition

Macallan, over priced, under strength, over here.  It’s whisky 101 to hate on Macallan, joining Diageo (who I have no real beef with, port ellen 2.0 aside), none age statement whisky and Dalmore as every bloggers favourite rant target. However, I actually like Macallan.  Maybe there’s a secret group I could meet up with? My name’s Tom and I like macallan.  However, it’s not easy to be a macallan fan, primarily because they love to water their whisky down to 40% and hide the potential.  With their editions range the crucial difference is it’s at a higher abv. Sadly not the much missed cask strength (RIP), but at 48% it packs a decent punch.  This one was designed (can you design a whisky?) by a perfumer, and, probably by the power of suggestion, it really does smell very perfumed and floral. Lesson four, sometimes its ok to swim against the tide.


Brenne French Single Malt

I’m not a fan of bubbles.  Which, as a champagne geek, is a bit weird.  I also love cola (during dry January I did a 17 bottle blind coke tasting, it got desparate!), but prefer it to be fairly flat.  Especially if I’ve over induldged the night before.  Therefore, I can say with some certainty, that this tastes like flat iron bru.  The nose, is hubba bubba.  The whole whisky is weird.  Just crazy out there, you’ve never seen this before, mental.  I liked it.  However it didn’t really taste like whisky, at least, no whisky I know.  Final lesson: always try new things, you never know.


If you’d like to read more on our adventure to that London the full write-up is available at: