Tag Archives: Highbury

“Pure”ly Brilliant

28 Sep

Things have been rather manic over here at Gwiltypleasures! As such, I have much catching up to do on exactly all the loverly events I’ve been heading out to in Londontown that have been really floating my pleasure boat.

Last weekend I was delighted to finally attend the Pure Festival which I wrote about a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure how exactly a music and whisky festival would be pulled off, but I’m glad to say I was very pleased with the result.

The Garage in Highbury was absolutely buzzing when I arrived with “the boy” in tow – the queue stretched along the side of the building and the most exciting bit: everyone was young! Now, to many people familiar with North London bars and events, this may not seem such a big deal. But, to someone familiar with older, stuffier whisky tastings (where I normally feel like I could be the child of most attendees!) this was a big deal.

Upon entering the event, it proved to be just the same – loads and loads of 20- and 30-somethings mulling around in checked-shirts and skinny jeans, drinking and learning about whisky.

People mull around the Seventy% stand, waiting to try pairings of whisky and chocolate

The boy and I got down to tasting just as soon as we could fight our way through the throngs of people at each stand – heading first to taste some rather delicious whisky from a distillery I’d not heard of before called Stonedean, which produces the Tweeddale Blend. Director Alasdair Day told us about how he inherited his Great Grandfather’s recipe book and how he established the company in 2009 to start reproducing it!

Next we headed off to try out another newbie to the whisky world, the Isle of Mull blend, brought to the festival by founders Neil Morrison and Calum Maclean. The company, which only began in August last year, has a beautiful blend made of Highland malts and grain whiskies, and I was impressed with its intensity and flavour.

After trying out some “edible peat” at the Ardbeg stand (a mix of hazelnut, cocoa powder and sugars), and a few shots of single malts at the fabulous Seventy% stand (which demonstrated how perfectly chocolate and whisky can be paired together), we tried the always favourite 10-year old Talisker – brought down by the guys from The Whisky Exchange – and continued with a rather special 30-year old bottle (hidden below the counter) at the Whyte and Mackay stand.

Finally, we finished up the day by sneaking in a couple of tasters of 12- and 16-year-old whiskies from Ancnoc (another new one for me), and had a chat with Darren Rock (aka: The Whisky Guy) who told us about his upcoming project for Movember, in which he will sell bottles of single malt in aid of prostate cancer. Stay tuned for updates on this soon!

All in all, after all of these rather delectable tipples, the boy and I wobbled out – unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the music, which was a shame because I heard great things afterwards about the headlining bands. Regardless, it was a great event filled with a young, fun crowd keen on becoming knowledgeable about my favourite tipple! And I must say a big congratulations to the chaps who pulled it off! Bring on the next one!

Pure Whisky

5 Sep

I have recently returned to London after 3.5 months away travelling around the Americas. I was eager to catch up on all I had missed in my favourite city during that time, and was ecstatic when I learned of an exciting new festival celebrating my most beloved drink – whisky – to take place at the end of September here in London.

Titled the “Pure Festival” – the event will celebrate both whisky and music. And with the moniker: whisky not wellies, it sounds like my kind of happening.

During a press briefing for the event at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society near Farringdon, I met some of the chaps – all young, north-London types – who have brainstormed this exciting new venture.

“What we’re about is trying to bring whisky to a wider audience,” explained Perre Thiebaut, host for the evening and also director of website Whisky Connosr.”It’s about bringing whisky kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The industry is ignoring the younger generations a bit. But there is a younger audience for it.”

The event will take place on the 24 and 25 September at the Garage, near Highbury and Islington in north London, and will feature bands such as The Ravonnettes and Electric Soft Parade on Saturday, and James Yorkston and the Smoke Fairies on Sunday.

Best of all: the whiskies. There are 10 distillers confirmed, including Ancnoc, Whyte and Mackay, Cooley and Talisker. Famous whisky critic Dominic Roskrow will also be on hand to doll out some very special drams from the World Whisky Master medal winners.

The hope, the organisers say, is to take the festival on the road, bringing good tunes and better tastings to others. New York and Dubai are rumoured to be interested in hosting versions.

“The reason we call is Pure,” added Thiebaut, “is that whisky is about three things: grain, water and yeast. This is really pure stuff. It’s like really good music. Pure and simple.”

That sounds like the perfect Gwilty Pleasure to get this whisky lover back into the swing of London life.

The Pure Festival takes place on the 24 and 25 September at the Garage in Islington from 4-10pm. Tickets are £28.50, and include 8 tastings – allowed to be done from 4-7pm only – and entrance to the music festival.

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