WTF Utrecht ( Whisky Tasting Festival )
On 18th September Torsten and I attended the Whisky Tasting Festival (WTF) at Werkspoorkathedraal, Utrecht, hosted by Norbet of Whisky4ALL. As the name suggests, it is a gathering where distributors, bottlers and brands meet enthusiasts and fans-to-be.
The festival started with a series of masterclasses and noting that there were about 20-ish participants on our side, Torsten split the class and pulled me in to host half of it. Torsten had the idea to showcase exclusive bottlings that could not be tried elsewhere, to give the participants an unforgettable session. We bust out a 9 Y.O. Linkwood and a 5 Y.O. Whitlaw Taiwan exclusives, as well as a 10 Y.O. Deanston bottled for WTF ‘21 and the 15 Y.O. Kildalton that I’ve hand carried into the Netherlands.
The session was intimate and I was making rounds between the participants in the subgroup, essentially treating it as a tasting workshop in the bar itself. By the second half of the session, I basically took an idea inspired by Teo and had the participants taste the whiskies blind to understand one of the methods that bottlers would use to determine whether the whiskies are ready for bottling. With the age, distillery, abv and cask type of the whisky withheld, one can truly taste the whisky without subconscious suggestion, and truly judge the liquid as it is.
While I have yet to partake in many whisky festivals in my life, once again I am absolutely impressed with WTF. The participants were of all ages (except for minors) and they were focused on having fun and engaging in targeted conversations. There were no binge drinkers and everyone made the best of the tickets, heading to as many booths as possible and soaking in knowledge from the vendors. We were situated behind the check-in booth, with waves of participants flooding us, but we made it out with the great help from Anna and Nick.
A big thank you to the team behind Whisky Tasting Festival for having us!
With the conclusion of TSC x WTF, that marks the official work “duties” of my time in the Netherlands. But with time on my hands at 9pm, I couldn’t help but make another trip down to The Malt Vault, especially since it's a 5 minutes walk from my accommodation in Utrecht. This time it was a privilege for me to be seated on a saturday full house and watch the team waltz around, serving trains of cocktails and flights without compromising their quality of hospitality. Giusi poured me a 1989 Glenturret from The Ultimate Whisky Co., which culminated in a good 5 minutes of chills and goosebumps! The atmosphere mellowed and intensified everytime I went back to it. Giusi checked back on me and told me, “Right?!”.
I ended the night with a De La Louisiane - Rye whiskey, Vermouth Rosso, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s bitters and sprays of Absinthe. I watched as they proceeded with flair, the cocktail was batched with the core components, poured out into a Absinthe laced glass with a block ice, 5 exact stir of the ice and misted again with Absinthe. While I’ve tried the cocktail before and even attempted one myself, I believe this is one of the best iterations of a De La Louisiane, the ice being a contributing factor as the cocktail is not served at perfect dilution. The first few sips was cold, but not super chill, allowing the main characters (Rye and Vermouth) to shine while the concoction reaches a balanced flavor equilibrium towards the middle and ends on a herbal and sweet cherry pleasant taste.