Are you a whisky lover who would give your eye teeth to taste the finest single malts ever produced but can’t quite make the four figure price tag for a bottle of the best?
Now you can try the dream drams that you may think are the exclusive indulgence of oligarchs and oil barons. The Midlands Whisky Festival, Friday 18th and Saturday 19th September 2015 at Stourbridge Town Hall, provides an opportunity for ticket holders to taste the finest rare whiskies, some of them from distilleries long closed down but whose historic stock has been acquired by other distilleries and collectors.
And if you’re muddled by your malts or puzzled by peat, then the festival’s Masterclasses by experts from the likes of Laphroaig, celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, and Nikka, the award-winning Japanese distiller (International Spirits Challenge 2015 Distiller of the Year) will teach you all you need to know about the world of whisky. There will be around 40 exhibitors over the two day event including artisan chocolatier Matthieu De Gottal (@gottalchocolat) whose speciality is, of course, whisky chocolates, and a chance to take a break from whisky-tasting with food provided on site by local bistro, French Connection.
The Midlands Whisky Festival, established in 2011 is the brainchild of Nickolls and Perks, an independent wine and spirits merchants in Stourbridge which dates back to the 18th century. Still occupying the same timber-framed corner building on Lower High Street, which was leased to William Nickless in 1797 for an annual lease of five shillings*, Nickolls and Perks, owned by the Gardener family since 1945, boasts an extensive inventory of some 2000 whiskies and spirits as well as wines and champagnes from all over the world.
Now in its fourth trading century as wine merchants, Nickolls and Perks is one of the finest specialist shops in the UK with customers from all corners of the globe sourcing the rare and special releases that it procures through its unique and historic associations with producers. Whiskies range in price per bottle from a modest £17 to an eye-watering £43,000, the price of a Macallan Lalique 50 Year Old 1st Release 46 %, which has just been sourced on behalf of a collector client.
The atmospheric ‘corner shop’ with its historic cellars is the perfect setting for regular wine and spirit tastings and it was the phenomenal demand for whisky tastings which gave rise to the Midlands Whisky Festival, now a twice yearly event in March and September to showcase the new Spring and Autumn releases. Tickets for the festival, priced £30 to £150* can be bought in advance at www.whiskyfest.co.uk
Colin Dunn, from Diageo, a regular attendee and exhibitor at the festival said:
The Midlands Whisky Festival owes its fast-growing success to the expertise and passion of the team at Nickolls and Perks who want to create the best possible experience for whisky lovers. Through their associations with major whisky producers and their in-depth knowledge of the subject, they put together an event which inspires and educates, and steeps the visitor in the magic and history of the world of whisky. It is one of my favourite Whisky Shows of the year and if I wasn’t exhibiting, I would be attending!
Tim Robbins, Marketing and Events Manager at Nickolls and Perks said:
We’ve seen a marked increase in interest in specialist and premium whiskies and spirits; this has led to the Midlands Whisky Festival growing from one day per year to two days twice yearly, making it the largest event of its type in England outside London. The Festival offers a great opportunity to everyone to explore the diversity of whiskies and spirits on taste from Ireland, the US, Japan, India as well as, of course, Scotland. You don’t have to be a die-hard enthusiast – there’s a lot to see and taste, for newbies and experts alike, backed up by industry professionals from the distilleries offering lots of friendly advice and information. I think people will be amazed with the whiskies they will be tasting at the event. We can promise a fun, passionate and informative experience – people will go away with a new perception of whisky and much more confidence about their whisky knowledge.