After a hiatus last year due to lockdown restrictions, The Whisky Show returned over the weekend as the first major whisky festival worldwide to hold a physical event in more than a year.
Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, the sold-out event brought together more than 750 whisky enthusiasts and lovers across the country to sample and buy over 100+ whiskies from 42 brands, over two epic days.
There was a great vibe at this year’s location, the Sir Stamford Hotel in Sydney CBD, as whisky lovers tasted, learned and mingled with whisky distillers, master blenders and brand ambassadors.
“We’re absolutely stoked with the positive response over the weekend,” said David Ligoff, Founder of The Whisky Show. “Everyone was just so excited to attend a whisky show after so long, even with all the NSW Health additional COVID restrictions in place, requiring everyone to be seated while drinking. We made sure we provided additional seating to meet these requirements. Feedback from both exhibitors and visitors indicates that this format worked quite well, and created a convivial, intimate atmosphere.”
Oliver Maruda (pictured main), co-founder of The Whisky List (digital partner of The Whisky Show), added: “During the physical show on World Whisky Day, we transformed the hotel’s bar into a TV set which ran a two-hour livestream in our app, Youtube and Facebook as part of our virtual whisky show kit offering. This was the first time we ran the hybrid show model combining both virtual and physical shows, with engagement by viewers at home high throughout the broadcast. A testament to the quality of the hosts, guest speakers and interesting content, including interviews with Aussie distillers on the couch and sampling of select whiskies from the virtual kits.”
Attendees had the chance to sample whiskies from a selection of single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, bourbon, rye, Tennessee, Japanese, Canadian, French, and a larger focus on Australian craft-distilled whiskies.
Due to the size of The Whisky Show this year more than 100 whiskies were on show across three dedicated rooms. There was a dedicated room for Australian distillers, with major award distilleries Archie Rose, Starward, and Belgrove in attendance, alongside some brand-new distilleries attending their very first public whisky tasting.
In addition to a dedicated room for Australian whisky, the main hall played host to Scotch, Irish and British whisky brands, with a number of brands sampling some rarer age statements alongside their core range offering.
The third room was split between brands representing US whiskey, with a focus on bourbons and ryes, plus some newer Japanese whisky brands thrown in for good measure and even French whiskies on pour.
Drinks Digest was fascinated to sip three French whiskies from Roborel de Climens, one matured in sauvignon blanc casks, one in merlot casks and one in semillion casks. They were unlike any we have tried previously and the sauvignon blanc aged whisky – with a palate of green apple and grassiness – was superb.
As bourbon aficionados we also enjoyed sampling a few of the special Woodford Reserve bottlings.
We were also thrilled to finally meet David Ligoff after attending a number of virtual tastings with him in recent months. David was recently awarded 2021 Communicator of the Year for Australia by the UK’s Whisky Magazine in their annual Icons of Whisky Awards and is passionate about sharing his whisky knowledge.
The Whisky Show is also becoming increasingly hi-tech – two years ago it went paperless, replacing a tasting guide by launching a dedicated app built in partnership with The Whisky List, which allowed whisky show attendees to quickly view what whiskies were on taste, rate their favourite bottles and watch videos recorded by each distillery and brand which provides useful facts about each whisky at the show.
“Thanks to feedback from previous years, we added the ability to leave your own tasting notes for each whisky, these will stay with your account as your rate each whisky, across multiple taste variables – it’s a really exciting feature,” Ligoff explained.
Maruda added: “We’ve had a fantastic relationship working with David and The Whisky List crew the last few years helping them go paperless. The app provides another layer to the overall experience for attendees with some really useful features with tasting notes, ratings, videos and more.”
Drinks Digest was urged by Maruda to sip the show’s exclusive whisky, the world’s first single cask BenRiach to be released with the new branding and label. All 310 bottles, bottled at cask strength 53% ABV, are exclusively for Australia and were launched at The Whisky Show. It was an excellent recommendation and a superb way to conclude our session in the main hall before heading downstairs to the Australian whisky room for a Starward Old Fashioned nightcap.
The Benriach Moscatel Cask is available to TWL members to order from Thursday, May 20. A link to purchase will be emailed at 7.30pm AEST, Get your free account: wsky.me/members. Member special price of $159 + delivery.
Sipping five of Starward Whisky’s finest