Festival Thoughts

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I was having a little think recently… actually I’ve been doing a heck of a lot of thinking about what I have been up to this year, the where and the why… and what it gives me. And I hope that when I am doing this, that I bring some joy/pleasure and fun/amusement to those I meet?

You never know, stranger things have happened!! What I know is, I need it.

I’ve been thinking about festivals too.

So, if you have taken the time to read the other posts I have written this year you will have seen some of the festivals that I have attended so far Bristol, Newcastle, Stourbridge, Stoke etc.

In more recent months I have been to Elgin, London, Liverpool, York and Manchester.

Distilled 18 was held on the 31st August/1st September, was most enjoyable. I had the pleasure of meeting Andy (Amateur Drammer), and we sat together at Graham (Coull’s) Glen Moray tasting. I particularly enjoyed the 1988 Sherry Finish and it will be interesting to buy a bottle (if and when it is released.)

I also bumped into Justine (kaskwhisky) who was on the first floor… it was a warm day.  Who else? Paul from Spey, always nice chatting to him, as well as Graham and Fay Coull. Oh and I can’t forget to mention Chunky . It was nice seeing you and having a little chat/catch up.

Also James Campbell of course. And thank you…you know why.

Liverpool Whisky Lounge, Saturday 22nd September. This was a fun one to get too. What an austere building, but my trip was to visit Lutyens Crypt, a mix of red brick and concrete.  A nice place nonetheless… I managed to get there in one piece (nearly got run over by an Audi on my way there – my fault as my mind was elsewhere.)

A lovely day… a happy day (and one that had my cheeks glowing…)

I have to admit, I spend more time chatting to people at these festivals, as opposed to drinking. And that’s okay. Really, it’s okay. It’s good to talk. Had some lovely drams and saw some lovely friends… even bought some Boutique-y Whisky which is most unlike me!! Ha ha ha. Met a few new people too. And the lovely Lawra (TWL) has a wicked sense of humour and a great hugger. Sometimes we all need a hug, especially ones before we head home.

My next escape, I mean trip (do I??) away was down to London, laden with boxes of whisky fudge and whisky I headed down to the Whisky Exchange Show 29th – 30th September. A chance to catch up with some other pals.

I dare say this could have been more than what it was, but it was lovely to see Jason B Standing, Jon, Steve, Kieran, Chris (Borrow) and Jamie. Also, Martin and Anna, David Sinclair and many more… Ben, Iain, Ibon (nice chap), Matt and Alistair and Heather, Vin and Tom too. Met Dave (Wessex Whisky) and also Mark (Black Country Whisky) nice chaps. Oh can’t forget Jess! It was lovely to finally say “hello!”.

If I haven’t mentioned you, please don’t take offence.

And if I missed you. I missed you.

Lots of delicious whiskies passed my lips, I guess the most memorable was the 1971 Invergordon from Berry Bros. & Rudd. And no matter what question I asked, the answer was no… “can I get?”… no, “is this availab…” no, “but”, no… this was a true “dream dram” and rightly so, some whiskies are just like that.

Where to next?

York Whisky Lounge Festival. This was held on the 6th October. I love going back to York, a lovely city and a few damn fine whisky memories have been created there. I treated myself to a couple of delicious whiskies the night before in my hotel room, I’d taken some Glen Moray from Boutique-y Whisky and Claxton’s 19 year old Glenrothes with me. (I thought I had booked myself into Fawlty Towers!! thankfully my room was lovely though.)

I spent the day between Boutique-y Whisky and Talisker… it felt familiar. Sorren was trying to avoid flying objects… The lovely Colin was table banging with his bottle and was as happy and engaging as ever. And although it was a slightly cold day, I got warmed up at lunchtime.

It always surprises me when I hear “you’re the fudge lady (even without fudge in my hand) or you’re Smiley. I like that too. Always nice to meet people. I spent the day giving away samples of my whisky fudge and answering lots of questions about it. It was nice to see Adrian (mynameisgone) and he stood and chatted to us for a while. A few more familiar faces were spotted among the gathered whisky fans, namely David and Wendy, Alistair and Heather too.

It was a busy day though. I think I spent most of the evening ensuring that a pillar remained in an upright position (people watching from the sidelines.)

Sorren who was manning the Boutique-y Whisky table was very busy, (a very popular stand) and it’s so interesting from my viewpoint to see people love the whiskies that you yourself own. You might have had an “ooh moment” on trying something new, but seeing someone else asking for a sample, raising questions, having them answered while allowing a whisky to open before that tentative first sip, then the “ooh moment”, well that’s nice to witness. It made me smile.

Then all too soon it was that time to give farewell hugs… again. After a gorgeous sunset heralded the end of the day.

Last one to mention was Manchestaaaaa…

This was another Whisky Lounge Festival an it was held on the 26th/27th October. Sadly I was packed for weather North of the border, bugger me that was a chilly couple of days. Wish I’d packed better. Ha ha…

I was invited along to the Manchester Whisky Club by Anna and Martin. An absolutely lovely treat at the Briton’s Protection, an evening where we sampled whiskies from Berry Bros. & Rudd. Rob gave us an informed and somewhat humorous insight into the drams we tried. A lovely evening and another “you’re the fudge lady” comment. Nice to catch up with a couple more familiar faces that evening also and the evening finished up late with a visit to Brew Dog. Thankfully they had cider for me to drink.

The next afternoon after spending the morning rummaging around Manchester for a tricorn hat for the guv’nor, and avoiding happy monsters (you had to be there) I waited for the early session to start. Lots of happy Whisky Lounge faces before making our way in!


What a gorgeous setting. That would have had you crying “oh God!” Yes, this festival was being held in Manchester Cathedral. The lighting and the architecture went hand in hand.

My first port of call was to see Dave aka the “guv’nor” …well I had to see if he had got his tricorn. And he did! It fitted him like a glove (or a hat) and it was nice to say hello to both him and Sorren (ocdwhisky) and see what boutique-y-ful delights they had to pour!! And they had a few. Which goes without saying.

Saturday was another nice day, tried a few more drams. Finally had a chance to try Auchentoshan “The Bartenders Blend”, and it is nice…it’s a bit like Ronseal “it does exactly what is says on the tin”. It serves the purpose for which it was created and that’s that! Also Efva from Mackmyra and a chance to say hello to Alex. Had a nice Glen Moray from the Single Cask and also the Port Dundas from TBWC, and I bought a bottle once I arrived back home.

Bumped into several people I knew and a few chats with new people. Interesting iron work, and that thought will make me smile for years to come!!

All far too soon it was time for hugs and time to head back to the 70s (it’s a hotel room thing)… and then home the next day.

These trips away mean so much to me, the moments and memories created give me something to look back on and smile about when I need them.

England… I miss you!!
Sarah x


  1. I think one of the best things about the festivals is the people you get to meet – either to catch up with or new people and potential friends.

    Obviously the whisky is important too 😉 but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun with the people to make the atmosphere!


    1. Thanks for your comments and what I meant to say was… exactly, we visit to try something new, but there is also the friendship side. And for me and countless others too, there is also a networking side to things.


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