We can't blame it all on the cost of the event, because Diageo didn't bother to turn up and I'm pretty sure they could afford it. In fact they went to the Good Food Show in another hall and I suspect that other whisky companies were there too. The word was that they knew if they came to WL that they would just see the same old faces and that they thought they had more chance of getting new custom elsewhere. Why it hasn't occurred to them that their existing customer base might be EXTREMELY PISSED OFF at being ignored I don't know. Certainly Diageo's products have been scored off my list of things to buy for the forseeable future.
As for the companies that did turn up I have nothing but praise. They looked after us well despite the stands being crowded on Saturday afternoon, because there were so few of them. The masterclasses were excellent and great fun, but I ended up attending 4 masterclasses instead of 2, because there was so little going on the main hall. The upshot was that the entrance fees for the event cost me £86 for the two days (I was kindly given a ticket for the Ardbeg masterclass by suffolkwhisky, (many thanks John), or it would have been £99). Add transport to this and its well over £100 for the two days. If there had been more stalls then I would have spent £26 less and felt it was much better value. I suspect that like Rosebankfan I may seek to spend elsewhere next year. (No doubt I will have forgotten all about it and will be back. I'm so shallow.
I would just like to say a special thanks to (in no particular order):
Glengoyne (for the drams and the craic, thanks Robbie)
and the lads on the Independent Bottlers Challenge stall who, despite their dilligence in ticket collection, had some of the most interesting drams of the show.
The folks on the Laphroaig/Ardmore stand looked to be doing sterling work also, but I never went there as it was really busy every time I passed
Apologies to anyone I have missed.
The master classes were great fun with the highlights being the 1974 cask at Dalmore, Cask 1375 from Ardbeg, Everyrthing that Rob Allanson gave us in the Silence of the Drams tasting and everything that Noel Sweeney gave us in the Connemara tasting.
All in all I had a great time, but as usual it was because I had great company. Thanks to all the folks I met for the first time and to old friends too of course for making it such fun.