Wei De's Journey: Maltstock Part 2
Breakfasts at Maltstock were prepared meticulously by The Hielander Scottish restaurant, a terrific combination of black pudding, haggis, sausages, baked beans, sunny side up, back bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. The breakfast for Maltstock champions before a long day of tasting begins again.
“Drinks With” is a program that runs for 7 hours, at 3 rotating locations, 20 minutes per session with different bottlers and distributors. It was the time everyone brought out their big guns, casks samples, bottles yet to be released, whiskies that were bottled exclusively for other markets, you name it. All that to celebrate the gathering and be grateful for loving the same thing - whisky.
It was a delicate situation, as we were fitted into 2 different time slots, with the preparation time needed and the time consumed beyond each 20 minute session, we tried to maximise the best of the time we had on our hands and attend any session that we can get into. This is also a good time to see Teo in action. This public speaking veteran is backed up with years of experience working with Diageo and Bacardi, also whom I call, the Dram Hunter - he picks out the best drams on the Sharing Table gracefully and meticulously.
One of the memorable moments during “Drinks With” was a mix up in the programming, in which the chapel was starting to fill up late in the evening with relaxed people in wait for another session with The Single Cask! The volunteers came up to us and requested that we do one last session so the wait is not in vain, to which we agreed that Teo and I should helm the last impromptu session, picking one each of our favourite TSC pours.
Teo suggested that we do “rockstar tasting”, to which I was clueless but decided to go ahead and play to my strengths. I picked our Linkwood 13Y.O. joint bottling with The Swan Song, and Teo picked our sherried Aultmore 8 Y.O. and got on my mark. 5 minutes into introduction and as I began explaining about the Linkwood, Teo pulled a fast one and mentioned that he poured out the heavier and higher octane Aultmore, to which I realised that we are about to dive into an anti-textbook tasting! We shared our stories and our experiences with these two distilleries and welcomed our guests into the conversation, keeping it casual and raising the spirits higher as the final night draws closer.
WIth a hearty BBQ dinner filled in our tummies (having seconds and possibly thirds), we headed to the grandiose event of Maltstock, the campfire gathering. The atmosphere was lively, e-joined by Jason & Joshua of The Single Cask Nation, Yumi of Chichibu and hosted live by Jess Lomas, Global Sales Manager of The Single Cask Nation. It was a spectacular scene with the witty banter between the Triple J’s, many laughters and drams were shared.
Lighthearted and enlivening, the organisers Teun and Bob spared no expense and invited Riverflow to perform Irish Folk music.
To which at this point, a peaceful stream of euphoria filled my heart and tears welled up my eyes. Maltstock is romantic indeed, people of all walks coming together to spend a good 3 days together, where it doesn’t matter where you come from and what you do, but all it asks of is to be present, be yourself and partake in this enigmatic and communal spirit which is whisky.
At that point, I felt the glass wall breaking, the prospects of why I do what I do at The Single Cask is clearer once again. While I believe my time with whisky is short, I still have much to contribute to the ecosystem and I hope one day every current and yet-to-be enthusiast out there will have a chance to experience what I did in Maltstock.
It is definitely easy to slip out of our minds that any independently bottled whisky is just, another small batch whisky from another distillery. What I’ve appreciated, having spent time understanding the history and ethos of certain IBs, is that behind the glass bottles, there are many stories to be shared and many interesting figures that are driving the appreciation for the spirit.
I hope that this post has given you a peek past our double-walled glass bottles, into part of my adventure with The Single Cask in the Netherlands.
Maltstock has been truly revitalising.
Here’s a big thank you to Teun, Bob, the volunteers and especially to the great team with me at The Single Cask, Slainte!