By Patrick Brossard, Switzerland
Limburg Whiskyfair, April 21-22, 2007
Limburg is in a town one-hour drive from Frankfort, mainly known for its old medieval castle.
The event hall, Josef Kohlmaier Halle, was very sought during that weekend with a queue of over 50 meters on Saturday shortly before lunchtime. The inhabitants, unused to such a crowd, were wondering what was going on. The answer was The Limburg Whisky Fair, which is one of the largest whisky events in Germany.
Because of its proximity to Belgium, the Netherlands and France, many Malt Maniacs were present (e.g., Serge, Konstantin, Pit, Olivier, Peter, Charles and others). The concept of the whisky fair is quite simple: after you pay an entry fee of 7 Euros, you can walk around the booths as you like and by paying the price indicated on the label you will receive 2 cl of your whisky of choice. In addition to many official bottlings, the range of independent bottlers was huge (e.g., Jack Wiebers, Compass Box, Chieftains, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Blackadder, MacArthur, Scott’s selection, Berry Bros and Rudd, Duncan Taylor, Signatory, Douglas Laing or Whiskyfair). Well, you might find the same type of malt at any other major whisky event, however, the main difference at the Whiskyfair is the tremendous choice of open “old” whiskies. A good opportunity for the Malt Maniacs to taste some good oldies and to complete the Malt Maniacs Monitor.
From the top of the stairs of the Hall, a bottle of Brora 1977 Douglas Laing Platinum, 54.9%, bottled in 2003, was looking straight at me and I could not resist the temptation. I was not to be disappointed either. Heavily peaty with a strong wood and sherry influence. To my taste, the combination of flavours and the wood influence was pleasant and in my opinion worth 91 pts for this unusual malt, very different from the 1977s version of the Rare Malts, closer to the 1972 version bottled for the Whisky Shop. After such a nice start, I then moved on to a sherry monster, the Glen Grant 1969 from Berry Bros, 46% bottled in 2004 (79 pts). The nose was impressive, very sherried and intensely fruity at the same time (peach and pineapple), but turned out to be dry, bitter and thick on the palate.
If only the palate would have matched the nose!
Before the lunch break, I went on to try the Glen Scotia 1991, 15 YO, from Cadenhead, matured in sherrywood and bottled at 57.8%.
It was deliciously malty and extremely smooth and benefited from an excellent sherry cask. Glen Scotia matured in sherry casks are rare and this one deserved its 87 point. A good surprise.
Just after lunch, I had a dram of Caol Ila bottled by the host.
The Caol Ila from 1984, 22 YO, 55.9% was from the Whiskyfair and was very mellow, nicely peaty and complex, with the sherry merging nicely with the peat. A good whisky well worth its 87 points too. The aromatic profile was close to the Caol Ila from1984, a 22 YO recently bottled by Adelphi. On my way to the older stuff, a Tobermory from 1972 bottled in 2007 by Whisky-Doris at 49.5% distracted me. 1972 is known to be an excellent year for Tobermory and this example held the standard. On round peat, oranges, tangerines and sunbathed malt, wrapped by a top class first-fill sherry cask, it was well worth its 92 pts and a wonderful distraction!
And to continue with the sherry, what about a Longmorn Scott’s selection 1971 bottled in 1999 at 57.8%.
This whisky was up to its expectation with 91 pts, a whisky with a lot of finesse, an intense and round nose, full of berries and with a lingering long finish. With all these whiskies, I forgot to mention the Caol Ila 1969 from Gordon and Macphail, 60.4%, bottled in 1984 (89 pts). That whisky was heavily peaty, very clean and dry to very dry, with a slight taste of minerals and some gentian bitterness. The finish was not very pleasant, but the retro-olfaction was stunning. Very long and heavily peaty. Last but not least, I decided to go for a dram of Clynelish 14 YO 92 proof bottled for the Royal Marine Hotel. The price tag (€20) made me hesitating in the morning, but the recommendations of two lovers of Clynelish and Brora (i.e., Lexus and Serge) convinced me. It turned out to be an excellent Clynelish (Brora) from the mid-sixties, on a clean and mineral peated nose, followed by a clean heavily peaty taste, mineral, malty and quite floral (gentian). The finish was on the same flavours and long. It deserved 91 points. I enjoyed very much my first experience with a pre-1970 Clynelish/Brora and would gladly try some others. The aromatic profile was different from the 1970s Brora, cleaner and with more minerals.
Well, after all these whiskies and talks with other whisky enthusiasts, the Whiskyfair was about to close its door and I had to think of my journey home. It had been a very pleasant day, with images of old bottlings and nice flavours in my thoughts on my way back. I really enjoyed very much the event and can only recommend it to any whisky enthusiast. The event was very well organised.
Interested in experiencing the next Whiskyfair Limburg? Then book the April 26-27, 2008!