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The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show 2013 Reviewed

By Miguel in Featured

Guess who tasted one fifth of The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show! Taking place at London, near Borough Market, this is maybe the biggest UK Whisky Festival with hundreds of whisky bottles from many distillers all around the world.

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So there I am. One year later I am back to London for TWE Whisky Show. This year I have stayed two full days ( or so I thought ), Sunday and Monday for the Trade Day. Do you want me to tell you the good or the bad things first? Well, anyway, I am going to tell you both.

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The great things about the show have been the amount of whiskies to taste, a bit over 500 this year and the quality of most of them. Lots of great stuff for tasting and barely eleven hours to taste them. Between the great whiskies I can think now of both Karuizawa, several Paul John whiskies I tasted, some Amruts, some Signatory drams, a Laphroaig, … I have made a list at the end of the post so you don’t miss them. ( I have just secured mine :P )

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The bad things are that this year we have has even more dream dram token assholeness controversy… Several drams were one dream dram token, like for example the “very limited very expensive” Dalmore 25 years old ( really I totally understand it… who would prefer to drink instead a Glenfarclas 40yo for free?! ) …, some were two token, a few of them three tokes and two of them five tokens!. Really, I understand the idea behind tokens, just avoid a few asshorse “nice guys” drink all your best whisky on the first minutes… but really what the point on paying a ticket entry and later pay again and again for the cool drams. But that’s not the worse. I think it is a pretty stupid idea to start a tasting with the very best whisky you can have, so I saved my token for later to taste something special like Glenury Royal 40yo, Port Ellen 35yo from Hunters Laing, Johnnie Walker Oddysey ( completely serious, I really wanted to taste that one ) or even the Lagavulin Special Cask for the Show… but… yeah, here it is! My dream dram token! Later I will explain what I plan to do with it.

On Sunday, the Glenury Royal 40yo just run out so no tasting. So disappointed ( and tired ) I was that I decided to save the token and spend it on Monday on a nice Port Ellen. First thing on the morning I would do! Promised!.

Come on! Stop laughting! :P. When I returned on Monday on the Trade Day, I was the first on the queue. This time I would get my reward… but… no… no… noooooooo! Hunter Laing disappeared and in its place there was a stand of Paul John cocktails. What the Fuck! Really?! What the fuck! I moved to Diageo and there was no more Glenury Royal 40yo, nor Lagavulin! Move to Johnnie Walker and there was no more Oddysey! So what the point of a dream dram token that you can’t spend?

Well… enough crying. Let me tell you about my show and why I really would love to return next year.

The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show Sunday

I wake up on Sunday at 07:00, barely five hours to the show… considering that I were staying in a hotel 10 minutes far from it I had a great long morning ahead. After trying to sleep a few hours more I decided to give up and leave my bed. The weather was fantastic so I decided to walk a bit and do a bit of time, I took breakfast in almost twice the time I do usually and it still was 10:45. Well… so I decided to do another little walk and shot a few photos of St. Pauls as well as I tried to locate The Whisky Exchange Shop. I am starting to think that the shop doesn’t exist…

Ok, 11:05, time to queue up. Five persons already waiting. Not bad. A full hour ahead with nothing, literally nothing, to do. I definitively need to grab a SIM card when travelling abroad.

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At 12:00 the doors for the show opened, and I rushed into the reception and directly to the Great Halls. This year the show was a bit smaller than last year, with less exhibitors ( or smaller stands ) but more whisky on each of them.

I ran to Number One Drinks Stand for a tasting of their Karuizawas before they ran out, then I moved for a few Tomatin whiskies and from there to Paul John Distillers where I met their master distiller, a really nice person that introduced me all their new whiskies, some of them cracking!.
Then I saw Billy manning TWE Whisky Show stand and I have myself something poured like the Glenlivet 1974 or the Caol Ila 18.

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From there and as I needed a walk I move to the Vaults and I saw Balvenie stand. If last year stand was great, this year Balvenie has even improved it! That’s it! A small pot still distilling malt!

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Also as last year, but not less impressing, they were taking apart casks and building right in front of you. I really enjoyed it. Incredible hard precise work.

As I was close to Diageo stand, I decided to give a try to some of their stuff: Caol Ila, Dufftown and Royal Lochnagar.

At around 14:40 I decided to go for lunch but the restaurant was closed for 20 minutes. Great! I had to taste a few Diageo drams to make time.

The food was really mean, a lamb stew with something like bread in it and a pudding with hot creme brulee on it. Really if I keep returning it is because of the whiskies :)

So another rush, barely two hours for the show to close because when the speakers announce that the last pour is being served every stand start storing bottles in boxes. Unfortunately the photos I have from most stands shows this sad fact.

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So I rushed into Penderyn stand and tasted many of their expressions just for moving to Bruichladdich where I got a good pour of Octomore 06.1. One cool thing about Bruichladdich stand was that they had malt on small bottles with different level of peating. Pretty cool!

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From there I picked a few just to end on Douglas Laing stand where I met Cara Laing and tasted some great whiskies ( the Arran was pretty good! )

So tired ( really, I was just tired. It is so stressing to taste whisky in a rush… ) I was after tasting barely 43 whiskies that I decided about going to my hotel.

The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show Monday

Next day, on Monday, I was able to alter a bit my interal clock and wake up at 8:30, not bad, definitively not bad. So proceed to have another Continental breakfast for having a great day and meet Marcin Miller on the way. It is a nice experience to have breakfast next the the person who owns all the remaining stock of Karuizawa in the world.

So I exited the bakery/coffee shop and went directly to queue at 10:55… and guess what?! There were none waiting. So there I was… another hour of my life spent doing just nothing.

Just as I entered I had to spell my name three times before just looking myself for me on the list :). I also registered for “The (Girvan) Single Grain Whisky Tasting”. I am fan of old grain whiskies and that one looked interesting.

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So as I was telling you I went directly to Hunters Laing stand to get my Port Ellen dream dram, but got instead a full piece of shit on the mouth a severe disappointment because there wasn’t any Hunter stand anymore ( weeping on a corner for a while ). Fortunately I just spotted Tim manning the Signatory stand and it provided a good cure. I tasted great whiskies there but when I saw the RRP something dropped to the floor… £100 for a 15 years old Laphroaig whisky? What is this bottle filled with? Whisky or printer ink?! ( Anyway, I really recommend it, deliciously good. WTF! I just bought a bottle… ).

The rest of the day was a constant rush from one place to another trying to fill the spots on my tasting list objectives. I moved from Signatory to Amrut stand and from there to Glenfarclas and from there to Armorik, then back to Diageo for a last check if there was anything left and back to Kilchoman for a proper cure for depression & sadness.

At 15:30 we were called to the masterclass but it looks like none was there yet, we waited for people for around 10 minutes before staring ( two less drams to taste ). It better worth my time… finally a guy who swear us he wasn’t Girvan master distiller showed us some photos of the distillery and explained a bit the process behind continuous distillation. After that we tasted three dram, two of them quite good and another quite young. Both old Girvan were great… but I think they have missed completely the point if you plan to charge £250 for a 25 years old grain whisky. I feel this is wrong in every possible way it can be… I wish them good luck anyway.

So as soon as the masterclass finished I rushed myself into the Great Halls for more whisky tasting, with barely one hour of time ahead ( or so I though ).

So I ran for two Glendronach Single Cask whiskies, one of them with a whopping 42 years old age statement, then to Glenglassaugh for tasting Evolution and then I found myself drinking English Whisky. Not bad. Not bad at all. So ten minutes to last pour. What the fuck?! What time is it? Real men don’t look watches. Drink! Drink! Drink! So I moved to New Zealand Whisky with the guy manning the stand flirting with a pretty nice girl. So I asked if I could pour myself and so I did. Pretty good whiskies they have.

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Woo, only five minutes left?! I had to made a last call, and so I went to Tomintoul stand and tasted Old Ballantruan and Old Ballantruan 10 years old just as the speaker said that the show would close in thirty minutes. So I did in a rush some photos of the stands or what it was left of them and after saying bye to great people on the show ( Sorry if you were there and I didn’t said good bye! ) I went straight for a Tesco near my hotel. I couldn’t believe when I reached my hotel that it was barely 17:50… umm… clock must be wrong. Wrong timezone. Checked the Tesco Ticket and I paid at 17:35 so… considering that I walked all the way to Tesco and that I didn’t leave immediately… I wonder… what time did the show poured the last dram? Anyway don’t look a free horse on the mouth, we say on Spain.

I tasted exactly 46 whiskies on the second day, so it raises the bar to a whopping 91 whiskies tasted. Does the TWE Whisky Show worth the money? What do I tasted? What was my favorite whisky? Why Hunter Laing disappeared? Let’s see it.

What is the best whisky that I tasted?

I tasted many drams, so it would be hard to speak of just one, but the whiskies that I am remembering right now are both Karuizawa, the Sherry ( bit lighter than last year ) and the Bourbon ( a bit better than last year ), the Paul John Peated Select Casks, the Amrut Single Casks, some of the Signatory specially bottled for The Whisky Exchange, the new to be released Girvan 30 years old, Glenfarclas 40 years old and the Family Reserve 1962, Balvenie 12 years old Single Barrel… just to name a few.

I have made a list of stuff you should check at the end of the article. ( hurry up if you want to buy any or they will be all sold out ).

Is TWE Whisky Show worth the money?

Well, considering that for the money we understand the £100 ticket entry, the £90 flight and the £200 hotel stay and that I have lost two days of my salary I would say absolutely it is.
Many of the whiskies that I have tasted have samples that are worth between £10 and £45, so just going the cheapest range I have tasted stuff for £1000.

So yes, definitively The Whisky Show is worth the money.

What I have tasted on The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show?
Well, here is a list. I haven’t have yet time for writing proper tasting notes on the computer but it will be there on the next days.


That’s for Sunday, and in Monday I tasted.


Are you tired? So just imagine not just drinking them but properly tasting them. Really, The Whisky Show has been an extenuating experience that really is worth the money and the time.

Can you really taste so much whiskies?

Well, for my personal surprise; Yes, I can! Here are my two first tasting notes and two last tasting notes. And I think that hurry and stress was a bigger problem than alcohol.

My advice is eat a lot before the tasting, and a lot is a lot. I have a breakfast around twice as big as I usually have. Sip small bits, don’t gulp. And drink a lot of water. The more the better. Having some crackers help between peated drams.
And of course… when you stop enjoying the drams, just stop tasting!.

These are my first tasting notes on The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show
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And these are the last ones.
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As you can see still readable :)

The Whisky Show Most Interesting Whiskies That You Can Buy Right Now


Have Your Say

Were you at The Whisky Show? What did you enjoy most? What did you spend your dream dram token on? Are you the beautiful blonde girl with great eyes that love whisky?! ( It must be a direct relation to alcoholic intoxication :P ).



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