This was our third time going to Alkmaar to visit the Hielander Whisky Festival and we were loving the relaxed feel it has to it all. At this event, the people behind the tables still have some time to talk to you about their whiskies, and it is great seeing people again from the Dutch whisky scene.
The Hielander Restaurant organised and (thus) provided the event once more with some great food. We decided we should really plan a visit to the restaurant soon, since we have not done this until now [shame on us]. Great drams, food, people, music and a relaxed atmosphere is the main feeling we got again from this festival. Wullie Macmorland did another great job with this years festival!
There was a good variety of stands available to the visitors again. The bigger producers and many lovely independent bottlers mixed through each other, all had comparable sized stands, so no brand was more present than another.
We always try to do one “dry” round through the event without having something in our glass, but that is just almost impossible. Great conversations and discussions with people about whisky, the market, and just about everything that has – or has nothing – to do with it…
Looking at what we tasted in the end and enjoyed the most were some of the latest expressions the independent bottlers such as the Ultimate, the Maltman and some Wemyss Malts had brought with them.
The biggest hits for us of the day were some older grain expressions from the Exclusive Malts range we tried. Learning more and more to appreciate the beauty of a good grain whisky.
Some Blackadder Raw cask expressions or the always nice 15 year old Balvenie Single Barrel (remember to write down the cask number next time) did very well, just as some of the Highland Park Dark Origins that went down very nicely with the fantastic Islay Stew from Wullie’s restaurant. Topping the day off with a highly ppm-ed Octomore while walking to the exit and chatting to the people en route to the wardrobe.
From sipping the “usual” suspects, via learning about other whiskies outside Scotland – again a promising Swiss discovery, to some exceptional new high-levelled (and priced) drams, it all was great fun, and we just have to come back next year!
In the meantime we are going to see Wullie again with his crew from the Hielander Restaurant at Maltstock for their great and relaxed breakfast, and as mentioned, a possible visit of the restaurant before that.
Some pictures we made can be found on our Facebook page.