Last weekend marked the 14th time that the Woudenberg Wageningen Whiskyevent was held. Hosted in Wageningen’s theatre, the event was organised by Wijnhandel Woudenberg (who seem to be big fans of alliteration). Woudenberg is an Ardbeg embassy, so in addition to being my go-to place for tastings, they also organise events whenever Ardbeg chooses to release a new bottling (usually during Ardbeg Day). Anyway, back to the event, which had the classic setup of a whisky festival. With 22 stands, each showcasing a fantastic selection of whiskies, there was plenty to choose from. While most drams were free, the older and rarer bottlings often required a small extra payment, but in return you’d be rewarded with a generous pour of liquid gold.
Of course all the usual suspects were there (Diageo, Pernod Ricard, LVMH, etc). What sets the Wageningen Whiskyevent apart though is the large contingent of international whiskies on offer. Whereas last year I sampled the likes of Langatun, Danica and Millstone, this year Gouden Carolus and Mackmyra received a closer look. Gouden Carolus is a famous range of beer from Belgian brewer Het Anker, whose Tripel I’m especially fond of. Seeing as though the exact same mash is used for making the Gouden Carolus Single Malt, I was very eager to give this whisky a try. And it did not disappoint, with the Gouden Carolus Muscad’Or being an even more interesting dram. Neither could compete with Mackmyra though, a distillery for which I admittedly have a soft spot. Their latest release Skördetid blew me away, and was definitely one of the highlights of the day.
As a long-time fan of the distillery, of course I spent a decent amount of time at the Isle of Arran stand. While stalwarts such as Arran Amarone Cask and the 18 year old tasted as good as ever, there was also the exciting Trebbiano Cask. Strangely, Arran 14 year old was nowhere to be found. The Arran ambassador told me they’d been asked not to promote it, since the distillery is apparently struggling to meet demand, with their stocks of 14 year old running low. This led him to share some other news which I wasn’t aware of yet: Arran is due to open a second distillery on the south of the island in 2018! Located near the cliffs of Lagg, the new distillery will focus mostly on producing peated whisky. Given the quality of Arran Machrie Moor, I am very excited at the prospect of being able to try more peated Arran bottlings, so this is something I will definitely be keeping an eye on.
A last honourable mention should go to Highland Park. Although I was decidedly unimpressed with their Dragon Legend, heavily peated (for Highland Park standards) Valkyrie more than made up for this. I think I might look into buying a bottle of the stuff…
I had hoped to get a taste of Jura’s new range, but unfortunately they weren’t present at the event. All the more reason to seek out another whisky festival sometime soon, or to come back to Wageningen next year 🙂
You find out more about the Wageningen Whiskyevent here.