Maltstock Whisky Festival 2019 review
Maltstock is one of the most unique events in the whisky calendar. It is an entire weekend of rare drams, excellent food, expert masterclasses and great company. Last year saw The Single Cask in attendance for the first time, as Ben and I brought along some of our favourite bottles to add to the almost overwhelming collection assembled every year, as each guest contributes something to share that they consider special. The event has now been running for eleven years, and this time it was our colleagues Brendan and Torsten who made the trip through the Netherlands to join in the festivities.
The concept of a relaxed whisky weekend was first envisioned by Teun Van Wel and Bob Wenting, who went on to find the perfect venue in the form of a quiet retreat set in the midst of a beautiful nature reserve, complete with plenty of accommodation, open air and the perfect space for masterclasses, campfires and the infamous Maltstock whisky quiz.
Over a decade later, Maltstock is a special date in the calendars of familiar guests, distillers and brand representatives from around the world, all coming together not so much to promote their latest products or make another dent in the market, but to relax and get away from it all with some great drams. I asked the guys to give their impressions of the weekend (after they’d had plenty of time to recover!).
“The event itself was an intense two and a half days of drams, tasting sessions, interactions and conversations with friends, fans and potential collaborators. Since it was both Torsten's and my first Maltstock, it made it even more special as we were experiencing it with fresh eyes.
Seeing familiar faces such as Derek and Fiona Mather of Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw (The largest collection of Bruichladdich in the world), Billy Abbott (The Whisky Exchange) and Bruce Farquhar (DramFool) made us feel more at home and we also got to connect with many people that we hadn’t been able to spend time with at previous events.
The whiskies were of a superb quality and diversity, the sessions were fun and informative and the campfire was simply mad fun, filled with great drams, great banter and many laughs (especially from me.
“First off a big thank you to Teun, his lovely wife and all the volunteers that made this event possible.
This being my first ever maltstock it was an amazing experience like no other. Three days of fun and sharing whisky with passionate people; meeting new friends and seeing friends that you talk to online but hardly see in real life or have never met in person.
Maltstock brings people together in a relaxed fashion with banter and off course lots of great whisky. Be it speed tastings, the quiz (which was a lot of fun!) or the masterclasses, you can’t help feeling like you're on a mini family vacation. You leave with a slight hangover and new friends, looking forward to next year.”
My colleagues both noted the same thing that I loved about Maltstock last year; that the weekend immediately feels familiar thanks to all the friendly faces. With whisky lovers from all corners coming to relax and enjoy some new (and very old) drams, it provides an excellent opportunity not only to catch up with old fiends and colleagues, but also introduce people that wouldn’t normally have the chance to find themselves in the same room.
One of the best ways to get to know some new whiskies (and people!) is by sitting in on one or two ‘speed tastings’ such as those hosted by our own team. Intended to be more relaxed and informal than the more conventional ‘masterclass’, these quick introductions give speakers just a few minutes to introduce their brand and a couple of whiskies, before a quick tasting that puts the emphasis on letting the drams speak for themselves. This is just the kind of efficiency that such a short weekend needs, and it makes for a fun change of pace from the typical tasting events.
We’re sure to be in attendance next year for more relaxed whisky (and of course some new material for even speedier tastings). If you’d Like to come along and see what makes Maltstock so special, tickets for 2020 are already available!