I attended this event on Friday evening with my good lady and it was another excellent event. We popped back in on the Saturday for an hour or so to partake in some of the cookery demos and a cocktail class.
The variety of local produce on offer - from fruit to yoghurt, cheese to jams and beef to salmon was awesome and represented a great celebration of all our national produce. There is so much more to great Scottish food than haggis that we can be proud of.
Irrespective of how much Tesco are purported to 'squeeze suppliers' this was a fantastic illustration of a successful retailer fully supporting fresh, local produce from, in the main, the small-scale producers. Good PR for Tesco I guess.
The various beers and foodstuffs I tasted were simply sublime but on to the more serious matters of whisky......
First up, Benromach - a wee taste of their Organic, just great for such a youngster and fully exemplifies the effects of virgin oak. Hot news from G&M was the very recent release (that day!) of their new 'heavily peated' expression, at 46% and peated to 55 ppm!
I'm not a fan of the peaty Speysiders such as Benriach and the new Ballantruan from Tomintoul but this one hit the spot for me, a huge smack of peatsmoke and a mouth-feel not too dissimilar to the Ardbeg young-guns! Will sure watch out for this one to hit the shelfs.
Next up Diageo were there - a glitzy bar promoting their trendy cocktails but also plugging the Talisker 18 recently winning the 'Icons of Whisky' best malt in the world. Very nice couple of drams from a plastic tumbler rather than the wee thimble size taster normally on offer. Much appreciated. I took mine straight rather than in a 'Talisker sour'! Wise chioice even by the barman's admission - boy what white teeth he had
Then on to Old Pulteney, only the 12 on offer and when I enquired on the 17 they said I'd have to come back Sunday, fair do's.
After some food I steered along to Glenmorangie with their standard 10, 15 and various finishes - the 15 was nice and again the new wood finish adds some bite and depth. Followed this with the 1990 Arbeg beast which was nice enough but I still prefer the TEN, especially at it's price-point!
Finished off with a particular favourite bottler/blender/distiller of mine Ian Macleod - pushing their Isle of Skye 8yo, such a decent blend for little over a tenner with apparently the malt content being much older than 8yo. Also there was the Glengoyne 10yo - pure malty goodness and Smokehead - pure smokey goodness at the other end of the peat-scale. Managed to sample a wee bit of rum too. Ian Macleod bottle a great range of products and all are very competitively priced, and to me bucking the current trend of premiumisation to offer consumers far better value for the quality.
Earlier in the afternoon I attended the Ian Macloed tasting masterclass, featuring the aforementioned whiskies and was lucky enough to win a bottle of Smokehead in their blind tasting challenge - although it wasn't too tough to differentiate the blend from the un-peated from the peated. Very good of them to give away a few bottles.
All in all - a very good event and even better considering it was free