Bringing together whisky and good friends

FNB Whisky Live Festival 2012 Preview Q&A with Karen Fullerton

Whisky Live wouldn’t be the same without the influx of the international whisky VIPs that grace our shores to participate in this massive event. One such person is Glenmorangie’s elegant and vivacious global brand ambassador – Karen Fullerton. When the opportunity arose to ask Karen what visitors to the 10th FNB Whisky Live Festival could look forward to I seized it with both hands. Read and enjoy…

FNB Whisky Live 2012 with Karen Fullerton

WTF: Hi Karen. You’re no stranger to SA & Whisky Live, having been out here in 2010 to launch Glenmorangie Signet and again in 2011 for Glenmorangie Pride 1981. What are your impressions of the country and its people?

KF: I have to say I absolutely love South Africa with a passion. It is without question one of the best markets to work in. Everything from the genuine friendliness and fabulous energy level you feel from South African people, the sparkle you see in their eyes and the pure spectacular beauty of this county.

WTF: More specifically, what is your take on Whisky Live SA and the SA whisky community?

KF: From all the whisky festivals I work at around the globe I would certainly say Whisky Live South Africa is within my top two. What I really enjoy about this festival is the fine balance of engaging workshops (i.e. 101 scotch whisky, food pairing and whisky cocktail ideas) whereby people can learn more about their favourite whisky but also the fun social experiential areas there is within the venue whereby friends can relax and enjoy their favourite dram in a cool environment.

It seems to me that South Africa has a sound appreciation for the sophistication and complexity of Scotch whisky but made it their own.

WTF: Are you coming out to represent Glenmorangie only? Or Ardbeg too?

KF: This year the focus will surround Scotland’s favourite single malt whisky, Glenmorangie

WTF: What will you & Glenmorangie be doing at Whisky Live?

KF: For the most part my time will be spent hosting private Glenmorangie tastings, training sessions, manning the stand at Whisky Live South Africa in both Durban and Johannesburg along with various media interviews.

Glenmorangie global brand ambassador, Karen Fullerton WTF: Which of the festivals will you be attending – Cape Town (already happened), Durban and Johannesburg?

KF: I will be working at the whisky festivals in both Durban and Johannesburg this year.

WTF: Which Glenmorangie whiskies will be available for visitors to the festival be able to taste?

KF: Original, Quinta Ruban, Lasanta, Nectar D’Or, 18 Years Old

WTF: And what about any of the Private Editions (Artein, Sonnalta PX, Finealta)?

KF: Unfortunately these are not available in the South Africa market yet.

WTF: Tell us a bit about the latest Private Edition release, the Artein.

KF: Glenmorangie Artein is the third release in our award winning Private Edition range that consists of rare and limited edition whiskies carefully selected from what is said to be the “cabinet of curiosities” of Dr Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation.

For me this is classic Glenmorangie as it really showcases the fine art of extra maturation whilst maintaining the true house character. Each tranche has been separately extra matured in Super Tuscan casks before being assembled. It’s bottled at 46% ABV and is non-chill filtered.

The name “Artein”, is Scots Gaelic for stone – something which has a special significance for Glenmorangie; the ancient Pictish standing stone “The Cadboll Stone” which has become the emblem for Glenmorangie and our water source, the Tarlogie Springs, which filters through layers of limestone and sandstone bedrock adding rich minerals that eventually give Glenmorangie its complex layers of fruity aromas. The rugged Tuscan hillside, stone also plays a key role. The vineyards where the elite category of Super Tuscan wines are cultivated lie on the most improbable of stony grounds.

Glenmorangie Artein has a fabulous bouquet of sweet honeysuckle, red berry fruits and the freshness of mint. On the taste you discover rich baked stone fruits such as apricots, peaches and plums, creamy vanilla notes intertwined with cherries wrapped in milk chocolate. It has a wonderfully long well integrated finish

WTF: Can we look forward to seeing you launching any new releases to the South African market while you are here?

KF: Unfortunately not this time but perhaps on my next visit?

WTF: How closely do you work with your South African counterparts and how often are you in touch?

KF: Over the years we have come to know one another very well and always look forward to the opportunity to work with my fine colleagues in South Africa.

Karen Fullerton examines her dram of Glenmorangie

WTF: Thinking about your favourite drams, what stands out? What is it in a whisky that wins you over?

KF: The thing that I love about scotch whisky is the pure, amazing complexity and the fabulous explosion of flavours you discover, certainly from a single malt whisky.

Pure in the sense single malt whisky comes exclusively from a single malt distillery in Scotland made with the finest ingredients (fresh spring water, barley and yeast), the fact that each distillery will have a unique character pending on how the barley has been malted (peated or non-peated); length of the fermentation time that will encourage various fruity and floral esters and aldehydes, the character of the spirit influenced by the unique size and shape of copper pot still and finally the oak in which the spirit is matured in (American Ex bourbon, Spanish or French oak) and for how long? There is definitely a single malt whisky out there to suit someone’s taste and pending what they are in the mood for.

WTF: Following on from that, what is your favourite Glenmorangie whisky, and why?

KF: It’s a difficult question to answer because for me it really depends on my mood and the occasion. If I’m wanting something refreshing I would definitely say a Glenmorangie Original Zest (Glenmorangie served on the rocks with a twist of the zest of orange) or the luscious and delicious Glenmorangie 12 year old Nectar d’or, which is Glenmorangie matured in ex bourbon American white oak casks for ten year then extra maturated in the finest the Sauternes barriques for two years. This two year extra maturation in the Sauterne barriques perfectly complements the classic style of Glenmorangie (fresh citrus notes of mandarin orange, ripe peaches and toasty creamy vanilla) with an extra additional layers of lemon, white chocolate and a hint of ginger spice on the finish. Fabulous!

WTF: An in conclusion, what is your favourite non-Glenmorangie whisky and why?

KF: It would have to be a single malt from the Islands region of Scotland. Something that is rich, deep and slightly spicy. I love this explosion of flavour and textures from some Island single malts. Especially after dinner.

WTF: Thanks for your time Karen. SA is looking forward to hosting you!

And there you have it folks. Another peek into what you can expect at this year’s Whisky Live Festival. Glenmorangie have a really solid line-up of whiskies in their range so be sure to swing past their stand and say hi to Karen before having a dram.If I had to pick just one of their whiskies on offer to taste I would recommend that you taste the 18 year old – it’s liquid gold!

I’m counting the days until the festival reaches Joburg. Until then…

Sláinte!

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