Angels’ Share Glass headed out of the office and north to the Spirit of Speyside Festival at the weekend. Here Managing Director Karen Somerville gives a personal account of the trip.
GLASSBLOWING AND WHISKY-TASTING AT THE SPIRIT OF SPEYSIDE FESTIVAL
On Saturday, we enjoyed a rather short visit to the whisky region that is Speyside.
For four years now we have visited the five-day Spirit of Speyside Festival which not only celebrates our national drink but showcases Scotland and its Distilleries in an exciting, lively catalogue of unique and special events and experiences.
The Festival has some 500 events all inspired by the water of life - from Guinness world record attempts to Glassblowing displays. Some are booked months in advance and people are eager to experience a never-done-before event, whilst enjoying and delighting in Scotland's hospitality and all its awesome food and drink.
This year, we were delighted to join our fantastic customers The Whisky Castle and form part of their programme of events. The Whisky Castle is a treasure trove of spirits and much more besides.
A warm welcome awaits from owners Sam and Scott at the shop which sits proudly on the main street of the postcard village of Tomintoul.
The name is pronounced "Tom-in-TOWEL" and in Scottish Gaelic this means "Hill of the Barn."
We joined many other eager clients to attend the Tomintoul Masterclass, hosted by Iain Forteath - Global Brand Ambassador for Angus Dundee Distillers and third generation of the Hillman family. Iain is so passionate and knowledgeable and made everyone relax and get the most out the array of fine whiskies including a sneaky surprise dram from his hand-made copper dog.
There were six outstanding whiskies to sample from a very easy and smooth 10-year-old through to a very robust and luxurious 25-year-old and finished off with an unexpected peated blend The Ballantruan. Tomintoul is tagged "The Gentle Dram" and we certainly agree in every aspect of its production and its taste.
Sister Distillery Glencadam in the North East is also part of the company’s portfolio - they certainly are the quiet Brand. Angus Dundee Distillers is little known in the global whisky scene and the third-generation family-owned company are certainly making themselves known. Iain is certainly helping with their plan and you instantly warm to the history and heritage of the distillery, the estate and master distiller Robert Fleming.
The outstanding winner from the Masterclass for me was The Tomintoul 16-year-old, a delight to the palate and most definitely the overall favourite of the evening. Superb food and hospitality from Whisky Castle was perfect to accompany the drams.
The evening was finished in the Richmond Hotel with new friends and lots of conversation. There were guests from Austria, Seattle, Germany and Slovenia amongst some locals and some Spirit of Speyside pilgrims. Stories were traded and all agreed it was an excellent evening.
The following day we popped in on another of our great stockists The Glenlivet.
It’s always a joy to visit the Chivas Pernod Ricard Distillery and see that our products are still delighting customers and selling well.
Boosted by our hearty full Scottish Breakfast, we headed off to Tomintoul Distillery for a VIP tour of the distillery which is not normally open to the public. We were met by Master Distiller Robert Fleming and had a long and awe-inspiring chat over a coffee in the tasting room. It was great to hear how things are evolving for the family and its growing workforce. The values and the loyalty from staff and the involvement of the Hillman family is reassuringly cementing the ideals of this growing brand.
Then it was back to Tomintoul to set up our Glassblowing masterclass with another choice of outstanding whiskies exclusive to The Whisky Castle. After a minor panic about our new portable oxygenator, we were set up and ready to show the public that glassblowing isn't all technical and mundane. It’s actually creative, fun and really, really interesting especially when it is integral to drinking and enjoying your whisky. So, we set about displaying our craft and telling our own story about our journey from a small home business to a growing global business.
We explained our initial connections to the whisky making industry and our own passion for the whisky movement. My Dad - the firm’s Master Glassblower Tom Young MBE - had the audience’s attention held throughout.
Then our guests were able to have a go and try their hand at glassmaking. It’s not as easy as it looks and many tricks and `wow’ moments were had. It is hugely important to us to take our talents out to people who wouldn't otherwise be able to come and visit us in our studio in Central Scotland. The fact we can be mobile and take our displays to events means we can share our passion and mix it with our other passion – for whisky. We cannot wait to be back next year and we are already planning our venue and displays for #Dram18.