So Sunday 5th August 2012 was a great day for me, not only did I spend a few hours at Whisky Fringe but also it was my first time making it through to the The Scotch Malt Whisky Society members rooms on Queen Street in Edinburgh.
Whisky Fringe, if you let it, can be a monster event that you can get very ill with, think child in a sweet shop, but if planned correctly it can be a great experience, so we try to ensure we had a great plan. Our plan was Breakfast at a local Lloyds; then train to Edinburgh; then a quick couple of drams at SMWS Queen Street; then some chinese food before heading to the fringe.
This plan would have given us a good lining in the stomach, an eased us into the whiskies. Our plan was actually very successful as we completed Whisky Fringe still feeling good and having had a good selection of whiskies.
The plan had allowed us to visit the SMWS members rooms at Queen Street and we were all glad we did. Arriving at around 11:30am I signed myself and my 3 guests in at reception and we made our way up the beautiful spiral staircase to the members room where we were greeted with a huge smile by Georgie and an stunning array of lovely green whisky bottles.
Georgie was very welcoming and apologetic about the issues surrounding Scottish licensing laws meaning we couldn't actually have any whisky until after 12:30. Not a problem was the result of our discussion and we ended up with some teas and coffees to keep us going whilst we relaxing in stunning surroundings, read through the August Out-turn and chatted about how pleasant an environment it is in the members rooms.
Richard and Paul enjoying the atmosphere in the members rooms.
Just before 12:30 I rocked up to the bar area for a better look at the array of numbers available and had a great chat with Georgie about the fact we were going to try 4 whiskies (one each) and just let each other have a wee sip of it to try. Being that neither Richard or Paul had previously tried any big peated whisky and David doesn't enjoy peated whisky we discussed options for some to try.
I was over the moon to find a small selection of distillery 31 bottlings and ended up with a 31.23 (sugared almonds in a Mattress Factory) which was better than i could ever have imagined. David had the 9.65 (Minty Sweets at a Fairground), Richard the 4.163 (Soaring Sweetness and Ocean Spray) and with Paul being a big fan of bourbon whiskey we opted for a G1.5 (Corn Fields and Oak Forests) for him.
All of the guys were suitably impressed with their whiskies and the discussions about whether or not to add water were fuelled when Richard had to go get a glass of water for himself, not being used to cask strength whisky he felt it quite anaesthetic to begin with, but a touch of water added really opened it up for him.
For me the 31.23 was stunning and my pick of the bunch and the G1.5 was a brilliant whisky and one that I could easily find myself sitting sipping of an evening. The others were also great whiskies but i feel the 31.23 and G1.5 really shone.
We then said our goodbyes to Georgie and the members rooms and made our way to Whisky Fringe, via a chinese buffet. The topic of discussion the entire time before we arrived at the doors of Whisky Fringe was the welcoming, friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the members rooms, the guys all want to go back and visit again and there is talk of them wanting to join up and experience more of it for themselves.
All in all a great experience, with friendly knowledgable staff, and a relaxed atmosphere, what else could you ask for? (well actually you could ask for brilliant whisky... as they have that too).
I can't wait for my next visit.