Ah, Maltstock! 2013 marked Master of Malt’s 4th visit to the “relaxed whisky weekend”, although of the four people who went, three of us were, in fact, Maltstock virgins! That Boutique-y Whisky Company have also now released their second batch of Highland Park single malt Scotch whisky, complete with Maltstock label – more on that towards the end!
As mentioned above, Cat (now Maverick Drinks’ Brand Communications Manager), was the only one of us who had travelled to Maltstock before (making the local newspapers in the process), the rest of the team was made up by her Maverick minion Teesh,
Sam Alexandra (who is MoM’s marketing maestro), and yours truly!
[Ben couldn’t make it, of course, on account of the new arrival. That and the fact he’d just had a baby.]
Leaving MoM towers early on Friday morning, we set off for a whole weekend of quality whisky and company and even a little entertainment too! Exciting times!
Naturally, Peaty was invited along! Primarily for his map reading skills.
We were soon in France, zooming down the E40 into Belgium, where all our lives nearly ended prematurely and dramatically. This was on account of a person in high vis clothing standing in the road, directing traffic away from a closed lane... only… that blank soulless expression... no, that wasn’t a person at all!
Something very much like this.
(Except this is actually a picture from Singapore that sparked a news story because of how utterly terrifying it was!)
Rather than acting as a warning to avoid the closed lane (which was clearly marked with cones anyway), it only served to fill us with ‘uncanny valley’ terror, taking our attention completely away from the road. It was moving for Stuart Christ’s sake!
An accurate depiction of our reaction.
Apparently they’re all the rage in Belgium. Freaky. We were therefore glad to leave the E40 behind in favour of the E17 and E34 into the Netherlands, avoiding the E150a en route (apologies). With no further dramas (unless you count that kid with the scooter at the zebra crossing…) we safely made our way to ‘the Maltstock woods’, just south of Nijmegen!
As many of you will no doubt know, as well as the organised masterclasses, everyone who attends Maltstock also brings a bottle or two with them for the communal whisky tables, which become the focus of the weekend. It’s all about sharing, learning and enjoying in good company and it all works remarkably well with plenty of time to sample whichever whiskies take your fancy and nobody getting too silly.
These kept us fairly busy throughout the weekend!
Except for the Arkay on that last table, that is. The person responsible for me having tasted that should be thoroughly ashamed. You know who you are.
We also enjoyed some Old Pulteney with Lukasz off of Edinburgh Whisky Blog, who’s also an Inver House ambassador these days.
“Just draaamming in the rain”
Luckily it didn’t last long, a bit like this epic bottle of Ledaig 7 Year Old Single Cask.
Friday night is quiz night at Maltstock and it wasn’t too long before we were ushered into the hall for an event we had been pre-warned about. For those who have never experienced it, it isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill whisky trivia...
This year, it included a round where pictures of distilleries had been altered, the challenge being to identify all of these changes. What was missing? What shouldn’t be there? What had been moved? In one case, a lamp post had been slightly shortened – that should give you an indication as to the level of
useless detailed knowledge required!
Our team even had its own 1970 tour artwork.
The picture round also led to one of the quotes of the weekend as Michael Lord felt compelled, in his best ‘serious voice’, to clarify that he “did not remove the penis from The Glenlivet distillery”. (We assume, therefore, that it’s still there?)
Post-quiz: Back to those tables!
We never turn down a Clynelish. Never.
And I tend to never turn down a Caol Ila, but this Burgundy finished Signatory bottling was not so great...
This Century Reserve 1525 Canadian Rye Whisky Gal’s holding was pretty awesome though.
The venue really is the perfect place for this event, and although the beds do appear a little Spartan at first, I actually found them to be unexpectedly comfy! (Possibly just me?) So comfy, in fact, that I found it extraordinarily difficult to get out of mine!
As Saturday morning rolled around I was only vaguely aware of the 7 other people in the dorm making their way in and out as they showered and headed off to breakfast, or perhaps I merely dreamt even that. Nothing looked likely to wake me. Nothing, that was, until an anonymous hand reached through the doorway on the other side of the room holding a mobile phone aloft and playing the Flash Gordon theme tune!!! Nobody has taken credit for this or even seemed to know anything about it. Perhaps it was actually Sam Jones himself?
Flash Gordon. Inspirational.
I thank him for saving every one of us.
And for my Maltstock-alarm-clock.
Now, I’m not a fan of the band Queen, something that led to me being branded a lizard-person by Alex and Jason Standing. (Which is ironic given that the Queen is allegedly a lizard person.) I do make an exception for Flash Gordon, though. Fair is fair.
Is David Icke onto something? We doubt it very much.
Others, it turned out, had enjoyed a less peaceful night with Jon Beach of the excellent Fiddler’s Whisky Bar finding Maltstock’s answer to Goldilocks sleeping in his bed. Except, you know, it was a fully-grown, snoring bloke.
Taking absolutely no chances of this happening again, Jon proceeded to hatch an ingenious plan:
Sorry, this bed’s already occupied, clearly.
Beach Balloon. Uncanny.
Saturday was the day of our Masterclass, showcasing the three newest distilleries in That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s range, a very special Orkney single malt and their Fèis Ìle tour release too: i.e. their first Batches of North British, Auchroisk, Dailuaine, Highland Park and Caol Ila!
The Boutique-y lineup.
The first three whiskies split opinion somewhat, largely due to their labels!
Everybody certainly enjoyed the Highland Park though – born from last year’s Maltstock...
That Boutique-y Whisky Company, you see, is now one year old, having been launched at Maltstock in September 2012. The attendees of that year’s masterclass also chose their favourite Highland Park (out of 3 choices) to become That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s first batch and even featured on the label:
Many of these familiar faces were at this year’s masterclass too!
Please Sir, can I have some more? Well, of course you can - show that grain whisky some love!
Peaty is big in Sweden, you know.
As darkness drew in on the second evening, it was time to head down to the campfire, where Donald Maclellan unpicked the recent history of Glenglassaugh for us whilst sharing some delicious Glenglassaugh, BenRiach and Glendronach expressions.
The stage was then set for the Scotch and Folk comedy stylings of Jock Shaw and his son, complete with the serenading of Maltstock Bob...
The next morning, whether we’d turned in early or stayed up enjoying more malt whisky and erm... some gin (What?), we all awoke to find some treats had been left in our beds (What?!). Chocolate-y biscuit treats, that is. This might have been quite nice if they hadn’t gone all melty. Cheers for that Jon, at least they were still in the wrappers!
Millionaire’s Shortbread, new from Glen Wonka.
Right, so, that new Highland Park we promised! As is often the case with That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s labels, Batch 2 sees a small change to the label. Spot the difference time...
It was a no-brainer really.
Highland Park – Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) – 46%
Highland Park – Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) Tasting Note:
Nose: Some peat, honey and a touch of ash give way to pineapple and tropical notes. Creamy with pineapple turkish delight. Toffee, wedding cake and a hint of coffee icing. A little green mango develops.
Palate: The oak comes into its own now, this is a well matured whisky, again a lick of initial peat followed by coffee, a little more wedding cake and finally dried apricots.
Finish: Pineapple and oak.
Overall: This fruity Highland Park really has aged wonderfully. It’s quite delightful, even if I say so myself!
See you next year!
Head over to the Maltstock website to secure your 2014 tickets now.
This blog post is entitled ‘There and Back Again’ though, and we did still have to make it home! Due to some technical or battery-related issue (I forget now), we weren’t able to play any of our own music during the return leg – one of the worst fates that can befall those ever travelling by automobile. Fortunately we were able to find a handful of ‘tunes’ to sing along to on local radio stations that at times made us forget about all the other cars on the road...
Unless they had their fog lights on, obviously.
“There’s no fog!”
Hello again, Blighty!