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Whisky in Leiden 2017 - Review

By April 03, 2017 ,

The 6th edition of the whisky in Leiden festival took place at the weekend. Every year this festival gains in popularity and the tickets sell out within months of issue. This years edition was sold out within a mere couple of months and had a very long waiting list for any tickets that might become available.

This years festival took place at the picturesque venue of the Pieterskerk church in the historic centre of Leiden. It is a well suited venue for this festival giving the attendee the space to move around and sample the wares of the various stall holders. All stalls were nicely spaced out, so there wasn't too much hassle to peruse the whiskies on offer. As per tradition we were heralded in by a traditional piper in full Scots regalia, always a nice touch to start the festivities.

As with every year there are two sessions; an afternoon and evening which is a good way of splitting up the capacity for the festival. It also means that you don't have to fight your way through heaving crowds to taste from the stall holders.

I've been lucky enough to attend every festival bar last years, I did have tickets for last year, but sadly couldn't make it in the end. It has been interesting to see how the festival has evolved over years, not just from a venue perspective but from the selection of whiskies available. Earlier iterations showed a preference for older, more select whiskies as well as the more popular selling varieties. As the whisky market has changed so too has the festival, the focus being on quality and diversity and not quantity. 

In the last 5 years we have seen a change in the market, with the likes of Ryes and Japanese whiskies ousting the Scots at the top of the whisky lists. Ireland seems also to be experiencing its own renaissance with a revival of many old long forgotten distilleries. Taiwan, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales are also making their presence felt on the market too. Even the Netherlands is making a mark on the whisky market with Zuidam's Millstone. These were all well represented in the festival with some really good selections from various importers. As well as the diverse markets, there was also a good selection of Scottish malts, with private and rare bottlings also available to sample. 

I was really pleased to see the large selection of Ryes and Bourbons on offer as I find them very interesting. For me it was also great to get the opportunity to try some rare Japanese whiskies too. 

A big thank you goes out to the organisers and their volunteers as the festival ran like clockwork, no hold ups, no queues. Every year the festival gets better and better, this year had a great vibe to it and I really liked the selections on offer, all reasonably priced so there was ample opportunity for me to sample a diverse range as well as those hard to get hold old bottlings.

All that's left for me to say is. Can I pre order my tickets for next year now please?

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