The 2018 Whisky & Spirits Live Festival in Sandton, Johannesburg kicks off in a few days time, running from October 31st to November 2nd. As always, there will be a wide selection of whiskies on offer (and quite a few spirits too), and this handy guide aims to help you navigate your way through the 130+ 160+ (updated 29/10/2018) whiskies that will be on offer. And that’s not even counting the IBC and WWA whiskies that will be at the show too (around another 100!).
The complete list of all whiskies that will be at Whisky Live is presented by exhibitor and shows the number of vouchers you’ll need to taste them. Remember, you only get 16 vouchers with your general admission ticket, so you’re going to have to pick carefully. To help you out, I’ve highlighted in red the whiskies that I am keen to try this year. Some have been around for a while, some are new, and some that are simply firm favourites that I keep going back to. Be sure to let me know what you tried and what you liked!
Pernod Ricard are going big this year! With a whopping 24 whiskies from their stable, there is plenty to choose from. I like a good cask strength sherry bomb, so Aberlour A’Bunadh gets my vote. I’m curious about the Chivas Ultis, but at 4 tokens, it’s an “expensive” blend to try. I’ll look to dip into The Glenlivet core range too, probably The Glenlivet 18yo which is such a nice drinker. And then we have to throw an Irish whiskey into the mix too don’t we? If you haven’t tried Red Breast before, give it a taste – Irish Single Pot Still goodness in a glass. But I’m going to go for Yellow Spot this year just to mix things up a bit.
|Aberlour 12 YO||2|
|Aberlour 16 YO||3|
|Aberlour 18 YO||3|
|Ballantine’s 12 YO||2|
|Chivas 12 YO||2|
|Chivas 18 YO||3|
|The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve||2|
|The Glenlivet Nadurra First Fill American White Oak||3|
|The Glenlivet Nadurra First Fill Oloroso||3|
|The Glenlivet 12 YO||2|
|The Glenlivet 15 YO||3|
|The Glenlivet 18YO||3|
|The Glenlivet 21 YO||4|
|Red Breast 12 YO||2|
|Red Breast 15 YO||3|
|Jameson Select Reserve||2|
RGBC are back with their usual brands – Glenmorangie and Ardbeg – and have also brought along GlenDronach and BenRiach to the show this year. This makes me very happy as I’ll be able to relive my memories of my recent trip to Scotland where I got to spend time at both of these fine distilleries! (Read about Day 1 – GlenDronach and Day 2 – BenRiach.) The BenRiach Curiositas and GlenDronach 18yo Allardice will be my picks there. And then I’ll throw in some Glenmorangie Lasanta which takes me back to my first Whisky Live, way back in 2011. The Glenglassaugh drams are also interesting to try too if you’ve never had them before.
|Ardbeg 10 Years Old||2|
|Ardbeg An Oa||2|
|BenRiach 10 YO||2|
|GlenDronach 12 YO||2|
|GlenDronach 18 YO||2|
|GlenDronach Peated||3||GlenGlassaugh Torfa||2|
|Glenmorangie The Original||2|
|Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban||2|
|Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or||2|
|Woodford Distillers Select||2|
|Woodford Double Oak||2|
Isle of Raasay
Raasay and Tweedale is a “must try” for me! Situated on a remote island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, with less than 200 residents, this fledgling distillery (opened in 2017) will only release it’s first single malt in October 2020. That’s 2 years away still! But in the meantime, they want to showcase their product, so we get the Raasay While We Wait. This is a whisky they’ve created with the help of another distillery that they believe will showcase the spirit style they’re aiming to produce: peaty and fruity.
Kevin Liu from Raasay will be doing a masterclass on Wednesday night (31st Oct) all about the Isle of Raasay distillery and on the whiskies they are planning to produce.
|Raasay While we Wait||2|
|Tweeddale Grain of Truth||2|
Bacardi will be showcasing their blended whisky – Dewar’s – and a single malt they have in their stable – Aultmore. They’re also flying their global brand ambassador Georgie Bell out to South Africa for the show and she will be hosting three master classes – one per night – on their Aultmore and Craigellachie single malts. Craigellachie is being launched in SA, so expect to see it on the shelves soon. I’ve already booked my seat at Georgie’s masterclass, it should be a really good one. My pick out of what’s on offer at the Bacardi stand? I would go for the Aultmore 18yo.
Loch Lomond Group
Two other distilleries that are close to my heart are Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia. I visited them both back in 2016 and was fascinated by the Willy Wonka chocolate factory style that Loch Lomond has (read about Loch Lomond here). With so many different stills, they can produce any kind of whisky style they like, all under one roof. It’s an amazing place and produces some really fine whisky.
And Glen Scotia in Campbeltown stole my heart (read about Glen Scotia here). I’m keen to try the Loch Lomond Open Edition which was launched to celebrate their sponsorship deal of the British Open golf tournament. And then I’ll opt for the Glen Scotia Victoriana – such an elegant whisky, with so many layers to peel back and discover. A real beaut.
|Loch Lomond Single Grain||1|
|Loch Lomond 12 YO Single Malt||2|
|Loch Lomond Open Edition||2|
|Loch Lomond Signature||1|
|Loch Lomond Original||1|
|Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 12yo||2|
|Loch Lomond Inchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish||2|
|Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 18yo||4|
|Glen Scotia Double Cask||2|
|Glen Scotia 15 YO||2|
|Glen Scotia 18 YO||3|
|Glen Scotia Victoriana||3|
Universal Beverages is bringing us a slew of Kavalan whiskies this year! Kavalan, a Taiwanese whisky, has been around for a little while now and produces some solid whiskies. The pricing is a bit on the steep side, but when you consider that they lose 10-12% from their casks each year due to evaporation (known as “the angel’s share”), as opposed to Scotland’s 2% per year, you can see why! I’m a fan of port cask whiskies, so I’d probably do a side-by-side tasting of the Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish and Kavalan Solist Port Cask.
If you’re keen to taste your way through 8 – yes, eight!! – Kavalan expressions, you can join Kavalan brand ambassador Kaitlyn Tsai on Friday night (2nd Nov) for a Kavalan master class where she’ll dive into the distillery’s location, the water used to produce their whiskies and the processes that go into producing this award-winning range of whiskies.
|Kavalan Classic Single Malt||3|
|Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish||3|
|Kavalan King Car Conductor||3|
|Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask||4|
|Kavalan Solist Bourbon Cask||4|
|Kavalan Solist Port Cask||4|
|Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Cask||4|
Paul John Distillery
Keeping with the theme of “new world” whiskies, we move onto India’s Paul John distillery located in Goa, near the west coast of India. Michael D’Souza, the Master Distiller / Master Blender of Paul John will be on hand to talk you through the range and all that goes into producing it. He is also hosting a master class on the Wednesday night (31st Oct) if you want to dive in a little deeper. The Paul John Xmas Edition 2018 would be my choice at the PJ stand.
|Paul John Brilliance||2|
|Paul John Edited||2|
|Paul John Bold||2|
|Paul John Classic Cask||3|
|Paul John Peated Cask||3|
|Paul John Xmas Edition 2018||3|
Campari have the Glen Grant core range available for tasting. How I wish they’d bring the Glen Grant Five Decades back for a special tasting! I’d happily pay 4 vouchers to try that again. Seeing as that’s not an option, the Glen Grant 18 yo is the one to go for. It’s picked up several awards over the years too.
|Glen Grant The Majors Reserve||1|
|Glen Grant 10 Year Old||2|
|Glen Grant 12 Year Old||2|
|Glen Grant 18 Year Old||4|
It’s sad not seeing Glenfiddich and The Balvenie at the festival this year, but I guess Edward Snell have their reasons. Instead, the Bushmills Irish whiskey range is yours for the tasting. I fell in love with the Bushmills Black Bush many years ago – such a great drinker, with a nice hint of smoke – and would most likely taste it again at the show. Or the Bushmills 21yo? Decisions, decisions…
|Bushmills Black Bush||2|
|Bushmills 12 YO||3|
|Bushmills 21 YO||4|
Well, this is rather disappointing… Diageo have come to the party, but they haven’t brought along any of their Classic Malts or Special Releases whiskies, not even the Talisker 8yo which I was looking forward to trying. Instead, we are left with the Johnnie Walker range, the Singleton range and Haig Club. I’m not sure why they’ve opted to go that route this year? Feel free to pick something from their offering if you want to, but I think I’ll just keep on walking.
|Johnnie Walker Red||1|
|Johnnie Walker Red Cocktail||1|
|Johnnie Walker Black||2|
|Johnnie Walker Black Cocktail||2|
|Johnnie Walker Green||3|
|Johnnie Walker Green Cocktail||3|
|Johnnie Walker Gold||3|
|Johnnie Walker Gold Cocktail||3|
|Johnnie Walker Blue Label||4|
|Johnnie Walker Blue Label Cocktail||4|
|Johnnie Walker Mentorship Session||4|
|Singleton 12 YO||1|
|Singleton 15 YO||2|
|Singleton 18 YO||3|
|Haig Club Cocktail||2|
Truman & Orange
Truman & Orange are back with some good ol’ US of A bourbons and their own blended Scotch whisky, called Bannerman’s. I would go for a head-to-head comparison here between the Blanton’s Single Barrel and the Blanton’s Gold Edition. Who will emerge victorious?
|Blanton’s Single Barrel||2|
|Blanton’s Gold Edition||2|
|Eagle Rare Single Barrel||2|
|Bannermans with Craft Cola||1|
|Bannermans with Ginger Ale||1|
Brand-it Marketing, a regular at Whisky Live, bring several whiskies from The Dalmore, Glenbrynth and Jura ranges along this year, along with the Shackleton whisky and a liqueur. I’m not the biggest fan of Dalmore or Jura – it just doesn’t agree with my palate – but that’s ok. There are bound to be a ton of people out there who do enjoy them. That’s the beauty of whisky. If we all enjoyed the same stuff it would get a bit boring, wouldn’t it?
Shauna Jennens, the Dalmore distillery ambassador, will be around to answer your questions and pour you a dram or two. She will also be hosting a Dalmore master class on Thursday night (1st Nov) if you’re keen to explore the range a bit more. The Dalmore King Alexander III will be available in her class.
|Dalmore Cigar Malt||3|
|Dalmore 15 YO||3|
|Dalmore 18 YO||3|
|Glenbrynth Single Malt||1|
|Glenbrynth 12 YO||2|
The List Goes On
Phew! More whiskies to go! But you know what, I’m going to let you discover these for yourself. Pick the brains of the brand representatives manning the stands, learn more about what’s in your glass and report back to me. What did you like? What didn’t you like? I’m keen to hear your thoughts!
|Boplaas Single Grain Whisky (brandy finish)||1|
|Boplaas Single Cask Whisky (Bourbon finish)||2|
|Boplaas Single Grain Whisky (Tawny Port finish)||2|
|The Pogues Irish Whiskey||2|
|West Cork Irish Whiskey Single Malt||2|
|West Cork Irish Whiskey Blend||1|
|John Barr Finest Neat||1|
|John Barr Finest with Mixer||1|
|John Barr Reserve||1|
|John Barr Reserve with Mixer||1|
|Quiet Man Blend||1|
|Quiet Man 8 YR||2|
|Quiet Man 12YR||2|
Liquor On The Run
And there you go! Congratulations on making it all the way down to the bottom of the list.
And Now For Something Special…
I’ve heard that there is a late entry to the list of exhibitors. And the stock they’re bringing through might not clear customs in time for the show. And that would be sad… Really sad! Because from what I’ve seen on the list of whiskies they’re planning on bringing in for the show, it would be mind blowing. I’m talking old, old grains. And 50 year old malts. And lots of really interesting stuff! Fingers crossed for all our sake’s that they make it to the show floor on opening day.
UPDATE (29/10/2018): The whiskies have cleared customs! So now I can finally share the list with you. Here goes:
How’s this for a spectacular list of whiskies? Stilnovisti are entering South Africa with a bang! There are so many choices here, so many unknowns… Scanning through the list the following caught my eye: a 37yo Tamdhu, a 17yo Ledaig, and then some oldies in the form of Invergordon 30yo and Port Dundas 46yo. Then a mysterious 27yo sherried Islay malt and an intruigingly named Young & Old that’s spent its time in 3 different casks. Finallly, let’s wrap it up with a 28yo Bunnahabhain and then a 50yo Macduff and a 52yo Carsebridge!! Exceptional stuff.
|Clynelish 1996 21YO 1st fill Koval Bourbon||2|
|Glen Grant 1992 25YO Refill Bourbon||2|
|Tamdhu 1987 31YO 1st fill Koval Bourbon||2|
|Aberlour 2009 9YO 1st fill Oloroso||1|
|Caol Ila 2011 7YO Grand Cru Classé St Emillion||1|
|Deanston 1996 21YO 1st fill Koval Bourbon||1|
|Ledaig 2001 17YO Jurançon Wine||1|
|Macduff 2007 10YO Sherry Butt||1|
|Eòrna • Lòin II 1997 20YO 1st Fill Bourbon||1|
|Ìle • Mòine 2008 10YO Refill Bourbon||1|
|North British 2007 10YO 1st Fill Bourbon||1|
|Invergordon 1987 30YO Refill Sherry||2|
|Port Dundas 1971 46YO Refill Bourbon||2|
|Bùrn • Toabh 1991 26YO Bourbon hogshead||1|
|Coinnich 1995 22YO Refill Bourbon||1|
|Malts of Islay – Àlainn 1989 27YO Sherry Butt||1|
|Peatside 2011 7YO 1st Fill Pedro Ximénez||1|
|Rìgh Seumas I 2007 11YO Bordeaux Red Wine & Bourbon||1|
|The Speysiders 2009 8YO Bourbon/Sherry/Wine||1|
|Air Leth 1988 29YO Bourbon hogshead||1|
|Coinnich II 1996 Bourbon hogshead||1|
|Rìgh Seumas II 2007 10YO Bourbon/Sherry/Wine||1|
|Young & Old 2011 7YO Bourbon, PX, Oloroso||1|
|Glenlee Blended Scotch 1/2000 bottles||1|
|Smoky Scot Islay Single Malt Whisky||1|
|Parkmore 7YO Single Malt Whisky||1|
|Glen Cooper Teaninich 5YO Single Malt Whisky||1|
|Puffin Whisky 21YO Glenrothes Single Malt||1|
|Bunnahabhain 1989 28YO Single Malt||2|
|Glen Keith 1995 21YO Single Malt||2|
|Carsebridge 1964 52YO Single Malt||4|
|Clynelish 1997 15YO Single Malt||2|
|Aultmore 2008 7YO Single Malt||1|
|Ledaig 2005 9YO Single Malt||1|
|Macduff 1962 50YO Single Malt||4|
Want to know more about Stilnovisti? Check out this interview with Michał Kosior from Stilnovisti who is in SA for Whisky Live.
Learn More About The Master Class Presenters With These Insider Interviews
Master classes at Whisky & Spirits Live are always a great opportunity to dive deeper into a specific brand and learn more about what’s in your glass and the people behind it. These interviews shine the spotlight on the people presenting the master classes this year.
Insider Interview #1: Robert Gray
Insider Interview #2: Georgie Bell
Insider Interview #3: Michael D’Souza
Insider Interview #4: Kaitlyn Tsai
Insider Interview #5: Kevin Liu
Whisky Live Festival Event Details
The festival is taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Joburg again this year. It runs from Wed 31st Oct to Fri 2nd Nov and starts at 6pm, ending at 10pm. With so many whiskies to discover, get there early! Tickets start at R260 and are available from www.ticketpros.co.za (just search for “whisky”). This includes a bottle of still water, 16 tasting vouchers and, of course, a tasting glass.
If you want to book for one (or more) of the master classes, this can be done through TicketPros as well at a cost of R160, or you can purchase a ticket at the door for R170. I recommend buying your ticket in advance, as these sessions are limited to 40 people only. Of course, strictly no under 18s at the festival and most importantly, drink responsibly! This means making sure you’ve organised a lift home folks.
I look forward to catching up with you at the festival. Until then…