Birmingham Festival 2016

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In November I attended The Whisky Lounge’s Birmingham Whisky Festival 2016. The Whisky Lounge run similar festivals up and down the country but this was their first time in Birmingham which already has a history of whisky festivals run by The Birmingham Whisky Club and recently played host to the Midlands Whisky Festival. Their festivals are open for anyone (aged 18+) to attend.

Venue:

The festival was held at the Birmingham Council House located in Victoria Square – a very grand location for a festival and easy to get to.

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Cost:

General Tickets came in at £30 + booking fee and provided:

  • Entry to the festival.
  • Glencairn tasting glass.
  • A bottle of water (for obvious purposes).
  • The Festival Guide.
  • ALL WHISKIES SAMPLED IN MAIN HALL (not including ‘under the counter’ drams).

What’s an ‘under the counter’ dram you may ask and how much extra will that cost me? ‘Under the Counter’ Token drams simply allow you access to some of the rare and more exclusive whiskies in the festival. There are two tiers of tokens available which can be purchased on the day:

  • White Tokens £2.50 each.
  • Black Tokens £5 each.

They also had two Masterclasses:

  • ‘A Guide to Whisky’ (FREE):

“A whistle-stop tour of the various and exciting whisky styles available at our shows. 5 drams, one expert and 45 minutes to really get to grips with what makes whisky tick.”

  • ‘The Blending Workshop’ (£10):

“Create your own blend! It’s not all about the Malt Whisky here at The Whisky Lounge. We love ALL whisky, including (good) blended whisky. Long ago we recognised, having dabbled in it ourselves, that blending is an art-form and is also a lot of fun.”

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The Main Event:

As with other whisky festivals I’ve attended there was a wide range of people attending, showing once again that whisky is ‘open for all’. The exhibitors were all as friendly and accommodating as ever and very happy to give advice and guide you through their selections. Those not using measured pourers also seemed happy to dole out a decent sized sample.

There was a wide range of exhibitors and a wide range of whisky on offer and even a few rums. At previous festivals I’ve tried my best to make at least some tasting notes as I’ve made my way around, this time however I decided to just enjoy the moment – particularly seen as previous attempts at note taking hasn’t gone that well. Not having to worry about making notes certainly did allow me to enjoy the festival…. maybe a little too much.

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Overall:

A total of 31 whiskies and 3 rums and I can tell you I certainly felt it the next day! The festival was great fun, with a wide selection of whiskies and friendly exhibitors and staff. The only let down from the day? No real food on offer! Crisps and chocolate bars are all well and good but I could have used something more substantial to keep me going throughout the day – especially after how much I drank.

The Whisky Lounge run festivals up and down the country as well as other tasting events. You can check out their upcoming events here.

If you decide to attend I would give 3 pieces of advice:

  1. Book on their blending workshop masterclass. I didn’t attend it but I had attended a blending workshop a few weeks previously by them and it was great fun. You can read about it here.
  2. Buy some of their ‘under the counter’ dram tokens – but don’t rush your decision – have a look around and see what’s available before choosing.
  3. Take something to eat with you! I can’t stress this one highly enough! Snacks and water are all well and good but if like me you try and sample pretty much everything then you’re going to want something more substantial to eat otherwise you’ll feel like death the next day!

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