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Victoria Whisky Festival

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Victoria Whisky Festival

Postby Wendy » Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:30 am

The Victoria Whisky Festival was a wonderful occasion. As Ron has stated, participants were kept busy from Friday night with attending the Jim Murray Whisky Tasting to the masterclass sessions Saturday afternoon and wrapping up Saturday night with the Consumer Tasting; sadly it was all over with a blink of an eye. Lawrence and his small army of friends organized a grand event. It was also a great pleasure to finally meet Mr. TH, Ron, Badmonkey, Lawrence and Dave.

Friday night, Jim Murray walked us through 14 whiskies with a big emphasis on Canadian. We tasted blind which was fun and full of surprises. I had written my tasting notes and the bottling on my placemat hoping that I would take it home as a memento of the evening. As well as a way to remember what was tasted to report back to the Whisky Mag community. But, by the time I reached the end of the evening, I walked away from the table sans placemat :cry: . I didn't remember until the next day that I had left without it. I was rather annoyed with myself for being so forgetful. Perhaps Lawrence will provide an "itemized" list for us. I am sure it will all come back to me!

Saturday afternoon, I attended two Masterclasses: Murray McDavid Masterclass and the Talisker Masterclass. Look out for some upcoming interesting finishes from Murray McDavid...

The Consumer Tasting was a beehive of whisky enthusiasts. I ran into Toronto friends - my very respected President of the Companions of the Quaich club and his wife who were representing Aberlour at one of the tables. They were happily pouring a much appreciated dram, Aberlour a'bunadh Batch 14.

Victoria is a beautiful and welcoming city. It was a pleasure attending a great whisky festival and meeting new and old friends.

Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby Badmonkey » Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:32 am

Absolutely, Aidan. I'll be collecting my notes and posting reviews this weekend. A few highlights for me included the George T. Stagg, a surprise (and impromptu) blend by Jim Murray, and an absolute stunner by the name of Ben Riach.

Should anyone out there consider a trip to Victoria, I highly recommend the Hotel Grand Pacific. It is a beautiful hotel and the staff did a stellar job of hosting the event, IMHO.
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Postby Wendy » Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:52 am

Hi Aidan,
Sorry about the vagueness; I will also try to be more specific next time I am on. I am feeling quite exhausted from the whirlwind adventure. I must say that the George T. Stagg was one of the weekend highlights for me.
Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby rthomson » Wed Jan 25, 2006 8:10 pm

I don't have my notes handy but I will post more specifics once I can get my things a bit more organized. Nevertheless, I will second Badmonkey's statement on BenRiach 20 yo. It received my top score of the 14 samples at the Murray tasting. The An Cnoc (sp?) was another great surprise.

Ron
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Postby Badmonkey » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:31 am

My tasting notes will have to wait, but here is the line-up from the Friday night tasting with Jim Murray in the order we tasted them:

1. Black Bush
2. Grant's
3. Alberta Premium
4. Gibson's 12
5. An Cnoc (12?)
6. Glenmorangie 10
7. Glenfiddich 18
8. Highland Park 18
9. Ben Riach (20?)
10. Buffalo Trace
11. Knob Creek
12. Six Isles
13. Ardbeg 10
14. Lagavulin 12

There wasn't a bad drink in the line-up. When everyone's scores were tallied, the final standings were HP 18 in third, Ardbeg 10 in second, and Ben Riach in first, but opinions obviously varied widely. The tasting was tremendous fun.
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Postby MGillespie » Thu Jan 26, 2006 1:36 pm

I envy you guys...wish I could have been there...next year...

Mark
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jan 27, 2006 5:15 am

Greetings! Mr Tattie Heid addresses you from the psychiatric wing of his local hospital. Ha ha! Not really. But I feel like it...and no doubt many of you will think that the appropriate address for me.

Some of you may recall that I reported a while back on my effort to cut down on alcoholic intake, and the unexpected psychological side effects. It seemed that on the nights when I did not drink, or drank very little, I was okay, but when I then engaged in an evening of "normal" drinking--say, three beers and two or three drams--I became edgy and depressed the next day. I wonder if anyone has ever had a similar experience. I am still struggling with this. Seasonal affect disorder may play a role as well, although I can't say for sure.

All of this to say that Victoria, as much fun as it was, really threw me for a loop. I'm afraid I was poor company my last two nights in Seattle for Ron and his marvelously tolerant posslq, although Ron is so laid back as to be perfectly oblivious, anyway. I have been on the wagon since I got home, and am to this moment feeling a bit wobbly. If I happen in the next days to say something stupid--I mean even stupider than usual--or start rambling incoherently about my mental health, as I seem to be doing right now, I hope you will forgive me.

Yes, Victoria. I went largely for social reasons, and it was absolutely marvelous to meet Lawrence, West Van Dave, Badmonkey, and Wendy. My greatest regret is that we all didn't have occasion to sit down together and just hang out. It seems we barely had time to shake hands and say hello, although I feel safe in reporting that they are all just great folks. You might even include Ron in that. I couldn't possibly comment.

I have three points to make about the Murray tasting.

1. Murray asked us to grade the whiskies the way he does, on a 25-point scale for nose, taste, finish, and balance. I could not and would not do this--it simply makes no sense to me. You could do the same thing for paintings, judging them on composition, color, light, and clarity. If The Night Watch rated 92 and Guernica 89, what would it mean? Absolutely nothing. I feel pretty much the same about whisky. Different whiskies please me for different reasons. A scoring system like this could never account for that.

I marked the whiskies to which I reacted negatively with a - , and those I liked with a + . Ones I liked a lot got ++ or +++. Iffy ones got a ~ . That's about as sophisticated as I can get.

2. Murray intended to make a point, even surprise us, that high-quality whisky does not necessarily mean single malt Scotch. Each whisky was tasted and rated blind, after which we were told what it was. Therefore, there could be no prejudice. And at the end of the day, I was able to confirm that I like single malt Scotch. The two bourbons I found unpleasant, and the two Canadians, very unpleasant--they tasted of witch hazel. The blend and the Irish I was indifferent to. The Six Isles was a mild + . The malts all got at least one + , except as noted below in point 3.

This is not a matter of having the attitude that Nick disparaged a while back, that "all malts are better than all blends [or whatever]". (God knows I've had a few bloody awful malts.) It's simply a matter of saying I like apples, and not oranges. Whiskies are made in different ways for different reasons. I will always try to keep an open mind to any whisky put in front of me, but on the whole, I feel more secure in saying that I know what interests me, and will never feel guilty or apologize for it again.

Incidentally, after this experience, I have absolutely no doubt that if Murray rates Teacher's 95 and Ardbeg 10 93, then he honestly believes that Teacher's is, by his criteria, marginally superior to Ardbeg 10. Needless to say, I don't share his criteria.

3. Fourteen whiskies was just way too many for me. Quite aside from the quantity of alcohol consumed and my current residence here in the loony bin--after all, I could have spit, and the total amount ingested couldn't have been more than about five or six ounces anyway--I simply couldn't taste them all in any remotely objective way. (Ignore for the moment my longstanding position that there is no such thing as an objective tasting.) When it was announced that #13 was Ardbeg 10, I was shocked, and certain that a mistake had been made. I know Ardbeg well, and this was not Ardbeg, or so I felt certain. #14 was Lagavulin 12, a malt I have enjoyed greatly, and I found it hideous, all smoke and harshness. I don't know of anyone else who had this experience, but for me, it was like watching a movie that has you going right up until a really bogus ending, which destroys any appreciation you might have had for the rest of the movie. I wouldn't say the end effect was that extreme, but I did at that point question all of my previous perceptions. Did I really think the Glenfiddich 18 was that good? I never did before. If I buy a bottle of BenRiach 20, will I think as highly of it as I did on first impression? Maybe those bourbons weren't so bad. Well, let's not get carried away! I think the palate fatigue was just at the very end, but it was very real.

I hope all this doesn't sound unduly negative--it was really quite an interesting experience, on the whole. I am only trying to be critical, in the broadest sense of the word. That's what we do with the drink itself, is it not?

Wendy, I'm sorry I didn't think to rescue your mat. I saw what you were doing and knew that you intended to keep it.

Fatigue overtook me on Saturday, and I didn't enjoy the consumer session as I ought to have--I just wasn't in a schmoozing mood. But on the whole, I will echo the sentiment that Lawrence and his crew did a marvelous job. It was my first such festival, and I have a better idea now of what to expect should I attend another. --If they ever let me out of this rubber room!
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Postby Badmonkey » Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:15 am

I used the spitoons religiously as I didn't want to overload my palate too early. By the end of the tasting I felt fresher than I did stepping off the plane.

My impression of the whiskies at the tasting was more positive than that of Mr. T, but I don't take issue with any of the points he made. It is fair to say that my palate is not so discerning that I can score 14 whiskies in a row with any real accuracy on a consistent basis, and how I feel about a whisky one day might change the next.

Having said that, as someone who enjoys drams of all sorts I can honestly say that I enjoyed every one in front of me that evening, all the more so because I can afford most of them. My top three on the evening were Ben Riach, Highland Park (of course), and Buffalo Trace, and the gap between those and most of the other drams was fairly narrow. Maybe I'm just a lush. The constant element of surprise was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the tasting for me, and I for one walked away from the table feeling better educated and more excited about whisky than I had felt in some time. My only regret was that we didn't have a bottle or two of Japanese whisky at the table.

I would second Tattie's comments on the consumer tasting. By that point in the evening I had grown accustomed to the more intimate settings of the masterclasses (despite my simmering rage at some people at the Talisker class) and was ready to settle down for a quiet drink with friend -- which is what I did, actually.

Mr. Tattieheid, I hope you get out of the bin soon. The forum needs your wit and wisdom. Best of luck to you on staying on the wagon; please be sure to stay on the forum while you are at it.

Cheers,

Badmonkey
Last edited by Badmonkey on Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby WestVanDave » Fri Jan 27, 2006 9:03 am

Greetings fellow Forumners and VWF alumni... I wish I could chime in with some great insights - but those will have to wait - I have been on the road since Victoria - and just arrived back from Calgary late tonight (had a great Burns Dinner with Andrew Gray Wednesday night and a visit to Alberta Distillers with Jim Murray as he presented them with an award earlier today). I had a great tour of the distillery too.

We are having our Burns Dinner on Saturday - so with any luck life could/should return to normal by next month...

All that said - I thought Victoria and the "Lawrence Graham Whisky Festival" was a great success. To echo Mr. T (and others) the only thing that could have made it better was more time with my/our new found friends...

More later...
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:24 am

I too wished for more time to meet everybody and spend a bit of time together but it was a busy weekend. However I did have the chance to meet my friends so I quite happy, I know we will all meet again.

Happy dramming,

Lawrence
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Postby Wendy » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:55 pm

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I attended two masterclasses. The first was the Murray McDavid Masterclass with the focus being "the influence of different cask types on maturation flavour development" with Andrew Gray. For me, one of the most stand out comments Mr. Gray made was that they were going to Mexico to try new finishes, for example mescal casks. (I thought Frodo would find this particularly interesting.) I am not familiar with mescal. I wished I had asked what finishing affect that would have - spicy, bitter, etc? I was too distracted with enjoying the dynamics of the room and quite frankly "threw in the towel" and put my notebook aside. I have tried to remember the whiskies that we sampled but the only one that I can remember is the Glendronach 1990 Speyside, Bourbon finish. Another whisky which I quite enjoyed, had a lovely cigar smell to it and a rose hue colouring...I have asked WVDave to help me out on this one as we sat together for this session.

The second masterclass was Talisker. The line-up was (in this order): Talisker 10 yo, Talisker 18 yo, Talisker 25 yo and Talisker DE. The latter was my favourite - the vanilla notes were heavenly. I had taken modest sips of the others but finished this one to the last drop quite happily. The Talisker DE was definitely added to my ever-growing wish list.

Much thanks to Dave, it was a great treat to try George T. Stagg. Back in Toronto, I have been stretching my palate with sampling Bourbons like Bookers 8 and Woodford Reserve (which I have a bottle of) and Makers Mark at the Tasting Tower. As I mentioned before, George T. Stagg is top-notch in every way. I didn't even think of adding water; it was that smooth and bursting with flavour.

As a novice Festival goer, VWF being my third, I quite expected it to be a dynamic and busy experience. I think Lawrence organized and coordinated the various 'event's extremely well which I think helped to pace things out for me. I much preferred that the afternoon masterclass sessions were held separately from the evening Consumer tasting. I didn't leave either event feeling like I was running in a million different directions. I felt the Consumer Tasting was a good chance to casually mosey from one table to the next and to stop and chat with some of the forumners and other festival goers (Victoria whisky enthusiasts are a very friendly crowd - even when they found out I was from the east!). All in all, I think it is a good thing that we left feeling it would have been nicer to hang out more with each other...oh, well, there is always next year. 8)

Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby Wendy » Sat Jan 28, 2006 5:19 pm

I forgot to mention two other things. In the Jim Murray Tasting, throughout his presentation, he very positively endorsed Canadian Whiskies. He encouraged the largely Canadian participants to not underestimate its quality and to add the various bottlings to their cupboards. Alberta Premium and Gibson's 12 were the two Canadians that we sampled blind. I preferred the Gibson over the Alta Premium, but couldn't say I didn't like or loved either.

This may seem more of an announcement than anything else, but a new Canadian Distillery has opened on Vancouver Island called SHELTER POINT DISTILLERY. Although they didn't have any whisky to bring to their table, the new distillery was being represented at the Consumer Tasting. I find this quite exciting news and of course something to look forward to in perhaps 2010! Lawrence, do you know what taste profile, the distillery is aiming for?

Wendy
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:25 am

Just a quick heads up that photos will be added to the website late next week so go have a look for a picture or two of yourself!

Lawrence :D
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Postby Aidan » Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:35 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Greetings! Mr Tattie Heid addresses you from the psychiatric wing of his local hospital. Ha ha! Not really. But I feel like it...and no doubt many of you will think that the appropriate address for me.

Some of you may recall that I reported a while back on my effort to cut down on alcoholic intake, and the unexpected psychological side effects. It seemed that on the nights when I did not drink, or drank very little, I was okay, but when I then engaged in an evening of "normal" drinking--say, three beers and two or three drams--I became edgy and depressed the next day. I wonder if anyone has ever had a similar experience. I am still struggling with this. Seasonal affect disorder may play a role as well, although I can't say for sure.


Yes, alcohol is a depressant, so this is not unusual. Of course, it affects some more than others. Maybe if you went off it for a while and then made a magnificent comeback, all would be well.

Anyway, no drink is worth sacrificing your health for (apart maybe from Midleton 25).
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:17 pm

Off for a week, had a single beer last night. It was weird, Aidan, because I've been a pretty steady drinker for years without ever experiencing the sort of mood swings I've been getting. I think there are some exterior factors involved, as well. Just now I intend to work my way slowly back up to a reasonable level and see if I can stay there. I really needed to cut down, anyway, which is why I started with all this in the first place. In the past couple years I've gone from three to four beers a night and a couple drams a few days a week, to three beers and three or four drams nightly. Bad habits form on six-week vacations in Scotland. A beer or two and a dram or two should be okay, I think, with a night off here and there. The good thing is the whisky will last longer. The bad thing is it will take longer to get to that next interesting bottle.

Now that I think of it, I went through a similar "retraining" some years ago, when I started hanging out a lot in a pub near my home. I realized that, if I was going to hang and socialize several nights a week, I would have to learn how to pace myself better, for the sake of my health and my wallet. I did it in part by ordering a pint of water with every pint of beer, and not allowing myself another pint until the water was gone. I learned to drink much more slowly, without sacrificing any enjoyment. And I also learned to stop playing "beat the clock" at closing time.

I really miss that pub...and I know someone else here who does, too.
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Postby Aidan » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:35 pm

Yes, everything in moderation. Enjoying it in smaller amounts now can mean you can enjoy it for much longer in the future.

Anyway, take care.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 30, 2006 10:07 pm

Moderation is fine as long as you don't get carried away with it.

Cheers.
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Postby WestVanDave » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:36 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Moderation is fine as long as you don't get carried away with it.

Cheers.


...Now that's the Mr. T we know & love... glad to have you back in the saddle, er, wagon, er, on side - well, you know what I mean.

Cheers, Dave.

P.S. - after the week that was: VWF, followed by a Jim Murray Tasting in Vancouver for the Achitectural Institute of BC, followed by a Bruichladdich Burns Dinner in Calgary, followed by our West Coast Whisky Society Burns Dinner on Saturday night I'm glad to report that I was at no time ever at any risk of over moderating... :wink:

Now all I have to do is play catch up on this forum.
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Postby rthomson » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:02 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:I really miss that pub...and I know someone else here who does, too.


Stop it, or you'll bring a tear to my eye. There's nothing like a great pub that's as welcoming and comfortable as home, sometimes more so.

Thankfully we have this virtual pub, it makes losing the other a little easier.

Ron
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Postby Frodo » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:19 am

I'll drink to that!
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:28 am

Ever since the Festival the weather has been terrible, buckets of rain and lashings of high speed wind. The only thing I can point to for an explanation is the loads of people who were here from the east coast and other parts east....... 8)

It makes you think...... :wink:

A good night to be in a pub :D
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:32 am

Yeah...now that we're safely out of the way, you're getting what you deserve!
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Postby Wendy » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:16 am

Well Lawrence,
In more ways than one, Victoria will never be a dry town!

I am finally able to put the pressures of work behind me for today and am happily sipping An Cnoc 12 from my VWF glencairn glass...very lovely, indeed.

Cheers,
Wendy
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2nd Annual Victoria Whisky Festival 26-27 January 2007

Postby Lawrence » Fri Mar 24, 2006 7:34 pm

The dates for the Victoria Whisky Festival 2007 have been set! The Festival will be on the weekend of Friday 26th and Saturday 27th of January 2007 at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, Bc Canada.

http://www.victoriawhiskyfestival.com will updated once we have a complete program later in the year.

Lawrence
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:21 pm

There are some pictures from the 2006 Victoria Whisky Festival in Issue 55 of WM for all you who already have it.

Lawrence
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Postby Wendy » Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:56 am

Hi Lawrence,
Congratulations. :) That is great news!! I was just recovering from spotting the "West Coast Whisky Society, Vancouver" (a la Dave) in Issue 54 being mentioned. When/Where did you receive Issue 55? I think I will have another 7 weeks of great anticipation before I get a chance to see the photographs.

Cheers,
Wendy
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Victoria whiskyfest...

Postby Muskrat Portage » Thu Apr 27, 2006 3:06 am

Yeah, we know now don't we? :D Thanks to Matt's kind posting elsewhere:
Whisky Magazine 54: UK - 3rd March USA/Can - 21st April
Whisky Magazine 55: UK - 14th April USA/Can - 2nd June
Whisky Magazine 56: UK - 2nd June USA/Can - 21st July
Oh and call if it hasn't arrived after Seven days...

Anyways. looking forward to seeing the pictures. Lawrence, any chance of highlighting some of the forummers, perhaps? Nice to put a face to the postings. Musky Pete
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:38 am

Hi, one of my friends in the Vancouver area, actually the one who wrote the letter in Issue 54, sent me a scan of the page with the photos. It's pretty small so I'm eager to see that actual issue.
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Postby WestVanDave » Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:23 am

I won't be able to see it until I get back from Italy (June) - unless I find a copy over there (what's the chance of that???)... but in the meantime, for those interested Lawrence has done a great job of making the photos available on the Festival's website:

http://www.victoriawhiskyfestival.com/

There's also a section with interviews - including Jim Murray...
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Postby Photon » Fri Apr 28, 2006 10:53 pm

Wendy wrote:Hi Lawrence,
Congratulations. :) That is great news!! I was just recovering from spotting the "West Coast Whisky Society, Vancouver" (a la Dave) in Issue 54 being mentioned. When/Where did you receive Issue 55? I think I will have another 7 weeks of great anticipation before I get a chance to see the photographs.

Cheers,
Wendy


Warning: Spoilers Ahead.

If you want to be surprised by the photos, don't read further.

All four pix appear to be among those already available on the VWF website. (Though they do seem to emphasize the presence of the fairer sex at the festival - although honestly, why shouldn't they?)

The photos did remind to sign up to be notified when tickets become available...

-P.
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Postby Wendy » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:07 am

Hi Photon,
Whatever publicity the Victoria Whisky Festival receives will be "great for the cause." It was a very memorable occasion for me and if you can attend next January, I hope it will be the same for you.

I can only assume that you already have Issue 55 to have seen the VWF pics? Is that true?

Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby Photon » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:35 am

Wendy wrote:Hi Photon,
Whatever publicity the Victoria Whisky Festival receives will be "great for the cause." It was a very memorable occasion for me and if you can attend next January, I hope it will be the same for you.


Hi yourself, ;)

I agree. There's (almost) no such thing as bad publicity. I will try and get to next year's fest, but I can barely make concrete plans a week in advance, let alone 8 mos. My wife wants to get to Victoria too, but I don't think January is what she had in mind...

Wendy wrote:I can only assume that you already have Issue 55 to have seen the VWF pics? Is that true?

Cheers,
Wendy


Yep, picked up a copy in at Park Avenue in NY this week.

-P.

Edit: punctuation
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Postby WestVanDave » Sat Apr 29, 2006 3:26 am

Photon wrote: My wife wants to get to Victoria too, but I don't think January is what she had in mind...


FWIW - last January in Victoria was near sun-tanning weather - great for walking along the water or resting under a "palm tree" - probably very similar to a sunny January weekend in Oregon... we're all crossing our fingers for the same in '07... (but then we are praying for snow in Vancouver in 2010!!!).
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Postby Frodo » Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:31 am

WestVanDave wrote:I won't be able to see it until I get back from Italy (June)


Hope you can pick up some upscale grappa when you're there Dave!
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Italia

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:11 am

WestVanDave wrote:I won't be able to see it until I get back from Italy (June) -...
Are you going to Firenza? "David" is spectacular at the Academicia if you have the chance, well worth the entry fee. (Note:I struggled three years in Art school). Musky Pete
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