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Whisky and Music, Zurich, 24-25 November 2023


For the photo gallery, click here

Since the Whisky Schiff Luzern, I had not the opportunity to attend to any Swiss whisky Event. So, I was eager to return to Zürich for a whisky event. Locating at circa 20 walking distance from the main train station, it is rather well located and easy to access.

The Volkhaus in Zurich, where the event took place

After a first tour of the main exhibition hall, I made my first stop at Acla da Fans, to discover a large selection of new whiskies, including the Classic range rang for Acla Selection, as well as their 10 years anniversary selection.

Most of the new range of Acla selection for their 10th Anniversary

My first whisky was a young, clean, slightly spicy and aromatic Glen Garioch from the Classic Selection, followed by a spicier, more complex and intense Distilled At A Secret Highland Distillery (likely to be another Glen Garioch).  The Glen Garioch from their 10th Anniversary Selection was a rather spicy and gingery expression of Glen Garioch, with some beeswax, old furniture and humus.
 Talking to Jens, the man behind the independent bottler Sansibar, I tasted the Glen Ord 10 YO Classic, a very fresh Glen Ord, on hops, fresh orchards fruits, vanilla and some grassy flavours. Very different and more expressive than the official bottling of that distillery.
The Auchentoshan 24 YO  JD personal choice from Sansibar was mellow, rich, rather fruity, with nice mellow grassy flavours and yellow fruits. Very good.
My second malt in their 10th Anniversary selection was the fox, a secret highland single malt, mellow, matured, waxy, fruity, slightly smoky, with sweet fruity flavours and honey. Very good and most enjoyable to drink. The Glen Grant 10th Anniversary was round, oaky, floral, on vanilla and some light round fruity flavours. Moving to the peated whisky, I started with Classic Secret Islay 15 YO, a smoky, peaty, round Islay single malt distilled at Lagavulin distillery, on fudge cake, rubber and peat smoke, as well as some smoke bacon. Good, but too much on the rubbery side to my liking. The Caol Ila 10th Anniversary was a clean, intense, maritime, rather medicinal whisky, on hemp rope, some citrus and a touch of spearmint. A nice one.
I changed of style with a Cooley 21 YO for the Whisky fair, a slightly green, spicy and oaky Irish single malt, with some orchard fruits. Looking at their rarity cask, I could not resist tasting again the Ardbeg 1966 cask 2445 The Birds from Moon Import, an excellent old style of peaty, maritime, complex and citric Ardbeg, with a lovely old fashioned type of peat smoke.

A dark sherried version of Cardhu at Offen Bar, probably from the 1960s

Bernhard and his friend had a rarity stand, called Offen Bar, where I tasted a dark sherry Cardhu over 8 YO white label. I really enjoyed the old white label Cardhu, but never tried a dark version. This version was deliciously thick, fruity, rich, intense, on raisins, dried fruits, cocoa and honey. A very good surprise! I was then offered two undisclosed whiskies labelled “NOT FOR YOU”, starting with a delicious grassy, fruity and complex Irish single malt. A stunning whisky. The second one, was a sherry Bowmore from 1998, rathe smoky, with a round sherry flavours on dried fruits, cocoa, dates, some tar, seaweeds and soot. Very good!

The new Springbank Palo Cortado and the Hazelburn 15 YO Oloroso cask

It was then time to taste the just released Springbank 10 YO Palo Cortado, a rich, thick, intense Springbank, slightly salty and smoky, with rich fruity flavours, mainly dried fruits, with some dry and mineral flavours from the final maturation in Palo Cortado. A Springbank that I enjoyed much better than the 2022 PX edition. The new Hazelburn 15 YO was a sherry bomb, very thick and chewy, on toffee, fudge and rubber, as well as brambleberries. Too rubbery to my liking. For the sherry freaks. The Port Charlotte MC1 heavily peated was a rather light, smooth, maritime and peated whisky, which tasted rather young and not as peated as the label would suggest. The Octomore 14.1 is a bourbon matured super heavily peated whisky, very smoky, maritime, smooth, light and rather young. A very youngish expression of that distillery.

At Glenfahrn, there were no new releases from Old Pulteney and the new range of Murray McDavid was available. The new labels and bottles looked great, but they were all wine finished whiskies, so I skipped them.

The Hearach, the single malt from the Isle of Harris

There was a stand with the Hearach, the first expression from the Isle of Harris distillery, matured in different sherry, bourbon and ex-rhum casks. The whisky was smooth, malty, slightly sweet, on vanilla and light sugary flavours. A rather young whisky, but rather well-made.

The Malthound selection at Whiskyhood

At Whiskyhood, I tasted from Brothers in Malt, the new  Glen Elgin 2009, a rich, fruity, rather intense single malt, with nice malty flavours and some yellow fruits. Very nice. From the Whisky Hound, I tasted the dark sherry 15 Secret Speyside, a very rich floral whisky, with lots of dried fruity, round malty flavours, toffee, fudge and cocoa, without any rubbery off notes. Very good. Finally, from the Whisky Cask, I tasted the 1994 Sherry Caperdonich, a rich, complex, malty, floral whisky, on dried fruits, leather, cocoa, round spices and with some ripe exotic fruits. Very pleasant and more fruity than the Secret Speyside.

The Springbank from Japanese Liquid Gold

At Liquid Gold, I could not resist tasting an old Springbank 57% from the 1970s, a heavy style of old Springbank, with lots of dates, figs, and dried fruits, combined with some old fashioned tarry peat smoke, orange, sea brine and some flintstone. Reminds me strongly of the old sherry 1965 Springbank. And yes, it is excellent.

The Floki from Iceland and Bivrost from Norway at Nordic Drinks

At Nordic Drinks, I tried the Floki, an Icelandic single malt, very clean, smooth, with lots of juniper berries, green spices and various oaky flavours. Very young and very original. A whisky on its own. So, if you want to try something different, try this one or the Bivrost Alfheim, a Norwegian single malt, very malty and gristy, on Juniper, heather, humus, green and floral flavours.

The Single Minded selection at Worlofwhisky.ch

It was time to move to World of Whisky and to try their new Secret Speyside M (like Macallan) 18 YO for the 40th Anniversary of Bernasconi Waldhaus am See, a very good, rich, intense, spicy, single malt, on cocoa, orange, leather, berries, spices, sultanas and dark chocolate. A very good whisky that should available for resale at the end of this year. The St Moritzer 11 YO for the 40th Anniversary of Bernasconi Waldhaus am See, was a very nice, complex, round malty whisky, with lovely round sherry and fruity flavours, on leather and orange. St Moritzer is not a distillery per se, but a whisky produced in an alambic installed some years in front of the Waldhaus am See Hotel and the production is limited to a few casks only. A well-made whisky. As part of the collaboration of between the World of Whisky and the Swiss imported from Douglas Laing Haecky, a series of 3 bottles of Single Minded Single single malts have been produced, with a 5 YO Secret Islay, very peated, intense, smoky and maritime, on seaweeds and phenolic flavours. I liked very much this single malt distilled in the South Shore of Islay and distilled at the Ardbeg distillery. The Bowmore 9 YO is mellower, more maritime and medicinal, but also less peated. The last one, the Talisker 12 YO is a nice and gentle expression of Talisker, with some sea brine, smoke and spearmint. It shows the soft side of the distillery, like the old 12 YO Talisker white labels. The Allt-a-bhainne 2000 22 YO from Signatory is a lovely rich, floral and very round expression, with nice herbal flavours, dried fruits, dark berries, toffee, cocoa and vegetal flavours. The 2007 Caol Ila from Signatory for the 40th Anniversary of Bernasconi Waldhaus am See was an intense, thick, chewy, maritime and slightly rubbery version of that distillery, with dark fruits, cocoa, orange and leather. The rubber is on the edge for me, but the mouthfeel, intensity and complexity of this Islay single malt was very enjoyable.

The two new releases at Whisky Bibliothek

At the end of the stand was Whisky Bibliothek, with a peated Finish Filey Bay, giving a light smoky twist to this Yorkshire single malt. It had a final maturation in an ex-Islay cask from the K. distillery on the North Shore. I enjoyed more the 15 YO Linkwood from Signatory for Whisky Bibliothek, a surprisingly rich and fruity expression of this malty single malt, without the dry hay and straw flavours often found in the malt from this distillery. It is not just a very easy drinking whisky, but complex, rich and with nice juicy fruity flavours. One of the nicest recent  (post-1980s distillation) bottling from Linkwood. The Caol Ila 12 YO from Signatory for Whisky Bibliothek was a peaty, smoky, maritime Caol Ila, intense, dry, tarry, with hemp rope, vanilla, tar, seaweeds, medicinal flavours as well as a touch of mint. Nicely made.

The first commercial release of Roseile as part of the Annual Releases from Diageo

At the entrance of the building, there was a stand with the Diageo Special Releases 2023. Many of these new releases were whiskies made in special finished, thus I focused mainly on the whiskies without finished. I started with the first commercial release of Roseile, a 12 YO: rich, intense, spicy, nutty, with a combination of some humus, oak spice, dried fruits, orang, vanilla and light vegetal flavours. I liked it very much. The Glenkinchie 27 YO was a mellow, malty and slightly grassy Glenkinchie that seemed slightly tired. The Clynelish 10 YO offered a very strong contrast, with a sharp, intense, rather waxy and mustard single malt, on vanilla, citrus and some rather fruity yellow fruits. Very good! The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami will need to reviewed later, as it was a very mellow, rich, complex, with precious spices, and some humus, but seemed rather weak after the blast received by the Clynelish 10 YO.

The new Highland Single malt distilled at Clynelish from C. Dully and the new Holyrood Arrival, sold out within minutes

After a couple of glasses of water and a short break, I went to House of Single Malts to taste the new Highland Single Malt  22 YO from Christian Dully, which was distilled at Clynelish distillery. A very waxy expression of that distillery, rich, spicy, with lovely fruity flavours and some ripe citrus. A delicious expression of that distillery. Then I tasted the first edition of Holyrood, the Arrival, which is good, well-made single malt, with a lovely old style of “dirty” whisky,  reminding me of the old Campbletown whiskies.

Most of the Collaboration range at Whisky Shop Neumarkt

I moved then to Whisky Neumarkt and Reto Stöckli to taste the new releases, starting with The Collaboration 9 YO Caol Ila, a lovely round, peaty and maritime Caol Ila, rather elegant, with a discreet influence from the sherry cask, giving a nice light fruity side to this matured Islay single malt. I tasted then 3 elegant single malts from the Italian independent bottler Hidden Spirits for their 10th Anniversary, with a very good 10 YO Ardmore, slightly dirty, spicy and aromatic, with a nice light aromatic peat smoke, followed by a fresh, rather spicy Clynelish, with nice waxy and slightly floral and candied citrus flavours and a surprisingly round Bunnhahabhain heavily peated, as there was very intense, dry and tarry peat smoky flavours, but at the same time, the whole was elegant, smooth and rather clean, making it nicely drinkable.  I could not resist tasting the Port Ellen 1982 40 YO Eidolon, a very complex, rich, mellow and peat Port Ellen, with a complex and lingering maritime peat smoke, seaweeds, iodine and light medicinal flavours. A great example of old Port Ellen.

The new Dramcatcher specially bottled for Whisky & Music

It was already past 22.00 but fortunately, the organizers were rather flexible, so I could have a stop at Dramcatcher to sample their North British 32 YO and to taste their delicious Blair Athol 14 YO for the Whisky & Music bottling. I usually struggle with the single malts from this distillery with its hops and bitter flavours, but here I was very pleasantly surprised to taste a rich, sweet, juicy expression of that distillery, with nice floral flavours, dried fruits and honey flavours. A very good surprise indeed!
With the event closing, it was time to take my train home after more than 8 hours spent at the event.

It was very nice chatting with all these whisky retailers and whisky connoisseurs during this fair, and finally, I managed to talk more than 5 min with Jens D. and to taste some his  great forthcoming Speyside M. single malts.

With the exception of missing spittoons, the event is well organized, spacious, with lots of choice, so we don’t miss too much the old Whisky Schiff Zurich. I am looking forward to come to the next edition!

Patrick, 25 November 2023

Patrick, 26 Nov 2023