OK, that’s it. The first weekend of this enormous whisky and beer extravaganza / spectacle is at an end. I have already shared with you my first impressions from this year’s festival. Today I thought I would share a few more details from the first of the two weekends. It has been three days filled to the brim with new impressions, great whisky, sake, prosecco, vodka and wine, as well as lovely, passionate people.
This year I was granted press accreditation based on the Whisky Saga blog. As a result I was invited to attend the press briefing at 11 am on Thursday. We were presented with all the facts, the history of the festival and the anticipated highlights for this year. Much of this is already detailed in my previous article.
It was then time to walk through the three big halls making up the festival area, making notes on what to come back to, and saying hi to friends. With a festival this big, I have to have a plan. There is no way I can manage to cover everything, not even a small fraction of what is on offer. This just adds to the fun, it all becomes an adventure, a treasure hunt. And I certainly found treasure!
I mainly focused on Nordic whisky this first day, and found some really good drams.
I am currently serving on the board of the recently established Federation of Norwegian Whisky Societies. We have had a lot of good help from The Federation of Swedish Whisky Clubs (SWF) when setting this up, and SWF invited me to attend their annual convention.
The convention is held in conjunction with the festival. They served a lot (14!) of drams, presented prestigious awards, and finished with a dinner. It was both an honor and a great experience to be able to attend this happening.
After the convention it was back on to the festival floor. Having sampled quite a few whiskies already, it was time to explore beer and wine instead. We ended up tasting some fabulous prosecco, champagne and white wine.
On Saturday it was time to explore more, and learn more. The focus was now more on older whiskies and peated whisky. I came across at least three drams that I rate at 90+ points. Reviews will of course follow shortly.
I also had time for a masterclass this day. My friend Tobias and I signed up for the Ardbeg masterclass, hosted by Mickey Heads himself, the master distiller at Ardbeg. This is the first time I have had the chance to attend one of his masterclasses.
Saturday evening is by far the most popular part of the festival. Lots of people, everywhere. There’s also live music. In one of the smaller halls Elvis was entertaining, or at least someone looking like what I imagine Elvis would have looked like had he still lived… In the main hall a cover band was playing a mix of popular songs from the past 30 odd years, including songs by A-ha, U2 and Rage Against the Machine. More party than whisky festival towards the end, but still fun.
The festival is very well organized, it has a fantastic range of product on offer, and it is simply a great place to be if you want to learn more and expand your horizon. The only drawback is really that it is very, very popular. In the evening, especially on Friday and Saturday it does tend to get crowded. A lot of people hovering around the most popular stands do create “traffic jams”.
Well, there is one additional, minor gripe I have. I wish there were more seats available. My lower back and knees are starting to hurt real bad after three long days. On Saturday the festival was open from 11 am until midnight! Of course, I should plan for this. I should take longer breaks. I shouldn’t have to stay from they open the doors and until they close – but I do not want to miss anything!
Now it is back to my real job for three days, then on Thursday I am back for the second weekend of the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival 2014. Hope to see you there!
PS! To everyone that are slightly (or greatly!) disappointed that I am here at the festival without my wife (the good looking half of Whisky Saga), I can only say that we will try to both be here next year.