On April 1st and 2nd the Single Cask Collection hosted the Austrian Whisky & Spirits Festival in Linz, just like the years before. The Single Cask Collection is Austria’s first and biggest independent bottler of Whisky. Well, mainly Whisky as they started to incorporate Gin, Rum, Grappa and other alcoholic beverages in their portfolio. I took the train from Vienna to Linz on Saturday, the second day of the venue to get news and other interesting stuff for my blog. I can’t tell if the venue hit the breakeven point for the vendors, as I had the feeling there were not that many people. But I was fully satisfied with my visit.
I’m going to write a whole series of articles about the venue as I gathered that much information that it would be impossible to fit it into just one article. I’m going to start my series with a brief overview over the venue. The following parts will cover the Masterclasses I attended as well as everything else I encountered there. It may be a good idea to follow me on my Facebook page as I’ll post the link to every article I write here. Then you won’t miss any article and it helps me grow – on Facebook as well as on my site here. And some news I just post over at Facebook, they don’t even show up here.
The Masterclasses covered everything, from interesting to funny. Alexander Huprich from the Single Cask Collection presented five Whiskys as well as one Rum. Of course he told lot’s of additional information and stories about the Single Cask Collection and Whisky. Special thanks to Marcel Schuster from Beam Suntory (he’s the Rare Collection Manage Austria) for the almost “private Masterclass” as there were just two people attending – if you count him too, we were three people in the beautiful “Kepler Suite” at the 12th or is it the 13th or even 14th floor? Well it depends if you count the ground floor as first floor or not. Anyway, it was the topmost floor and we had a beautiful view upon Linz and – of course – the Whiskeys. Finally – last but not least! – I attended the Bruichladdich Masterclass with – the one and only – Ewald Stromer. Everybody who attended a Masterclass with him will know, you get ton’s of information and it can – no will – be very funny! I haven’t had that much laughs in a Masterclass lately. And his demonstration how to make a “better” Whisky <irony> because: darker = older = better = more expensive <irony> only with a “Port Charlotte Scottish Barley” and some drops of E150 (aka caramel colour) was terrific!
Beside the Masterclasses I had some time which I spend roaming the venue meeting new and old faces, talking about the probably best spirit there is – Whisky. There were lots of encounters with numerous people of which I do not recall their names, but there was Wolfgang Turnhofer, at the booth of the Single Cask Collection I talked with about the probably first Irish Whiskey ever bottled at cask strength (Teeling 13yo). Then there was Rüdiger Jörg Hirst – founder and owner of the Alba-Collection publishing house. He was nearly as excited about my business card, which looks like a Glencairn glass, as I am of his great Whisky maps. When he showed me “The Elements of Scotch”, which looks just like the periodic table of elements I had to buy a bit one and a small one, as I’m a chemist and I like the idea! Oh, he is currently working on the Whisky map of the United States (with its over 800 distilleries)!
I met Ewald Stromer, Bruichladdichs brand ambassador DE/AT/CH and Thomas Breitwieser (TopSpirit), as well as Marcel Schuster (Beam Suntory, Rare Collection Manager Austria) and Arthur Nägele, who offers WSET approved lectures. At the booth of Bevanda, I tasted the “Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask”, a wee dram! I also met – after we “found” us at Facebook some time ago – Saskia Konz. You can call her the “Bagpipe Lady” and that’s exactly what she did there. Playing the bagpipes – very well I have to say – which I was able to hear even at the top floor during the Beam Suntory Masterclass (well, the window was open, but nevertheless). I know not everyone likes bagpipe music, but I never met a Whisk(e)y lover who doesn’t like this particular style of music. Right before I was leaving Detlef Sommer from the Säntis Malt distillery (Swiss) poured me a dram of one of their special Whiskys which are quite hard to get!
Sometimes it seems that time flies by – as it was in Munich – and this venue was no exception. I could have stayed there for several more hours, but I had my ticket back to Vienna already booked and the vendors also were about to leave to have at least parts of the Sunday for them and their families! But I discovered that the hotel was offering special prices for those attending the venue. I’ll probably book a room next year, take the Friday off and use both days at this nice venue. As I wrote earlier, please head over to my Facebook site and follow me there, so that you won’t miss the following articles of this series!