The ‘Zman Amiti” Yearly Whisky Event
‘Zman Amiti’, or in free translation, Real Time, is one of the leading bartending schools in Israel, and it so happens that they have a yearly whisky event held at their main branch in Tel Aviv. This year’s event was held just last Friday, and I was sure to attend. I needed a bit whisky out time being very busy lately with my 3 months old son, new job, new entrepreneurship I’m part of and quite a lack of sleep.
The “Zman Amiti” Tel Aviv branch, is located in a very large basement divided into several halls, each has one or more bars where bartending students study and practice, and the whisky booths were located at these bars, and grouped by importers. There was one exception which was a caravan used by ‘France Israel’ the importer for The Famous Grouse, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Highland Park. That caravan was set at the entrance to the basement (ramp) and acted as the booth for these whiskies I just mentioned.
Before I begin to describe my whisky tasting tour around that basement 2 things that were a bit of a disappointment and then onto the fun and good stuff –
1. The glasses given by the organizers for the tastings were not copita nor Glencairn shaped, but rather regular tumblers with the logo of ‘Zman Amiti’. (Luckily and thanks to two importers, I managed to taste my drams in a copita and a Glencairn).
2. No water for drinking was offered at all.
I started my whisky tasting with an expression I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while. I saw BlackFace double malt whisky on sale at the Israeli duty free shops several times but got to try it and didn’t find anything about it that could really explain to me what it’s like. So, when I was directed by a young stewardess to the bar where the BlackFace booth was I was very happy for the opportunity.
The BlackFace bar had its back wall filled with BlackFace bottles and boxes and in front of it were several tables with specially printed Black Face logo tops. On the bar stood several wine decanters filled with smoke, each holding a leaflet and between them stood BlackFace bottles. You could tell someone at Caspi Spirits (AKA Isbeco), the importer, had put an extra thought into presentation.
Using a wine glass (and later a copita), I was glad to find a very interesting, thick and tastes filled whisky (see my tasting notes below), and I actually ended up buying a bottle. By the way, each BlackFace dram poured was chilled by what seemed to be hydrogen. Kind of cool to see a smoky whisky.
Next I went to the bar by HaCarem Spirits LTD, importers of Glenfiddich, Grant’s, Tullamore Dew and Balvenie, all organised in a very nice setup behind the bar, lit from beneath. Literally shining whiskies (or to be a bit more detailed – Glenfiddich 12, 15, 18, 21, 30; Grant’s 18, 12, Ale cask, Sherry cask, regular; Balvenie 12 Double Wood, 17 Peated, 21 and Tullamore Dew; very nice selection). HaCarem also placed 2 foosball tables where couple matches were held, winning team getting a free whisky dram.
As you might know, I’m not a big fan of Glenfiddich, however I’m quite a fan of Grant’s blends and of Balvenie. While trying the Grant’s 12 (I have the 18, Sherry cask and Ale cask at home), I had a very interesting whisky chat with Ilan Avitsur, Spirit Dept. Manager at “HaKerem”. It was he who pampered me with a Glenfiddich copita shaped glass, which assisted me with all other whiskies to come.
The Grant’s 12 is a very well made blend. Fruity and chocolaty and festive on the palate. I actually had to compare the 12, and the 18, to another blend family I’m very fond of, Cutty Sark. In my opinion there are many similarities between both brands’ 12YO expressions and also between their 18YO. But that’s just me.
Moving forward, I entered the main hall, where a live band was playing and 3 booths were placed. The first was Jeam Beam’s with 2 young cow girls poring out drams. As I wanted to focus on Scottish whisky, I took a picture, said hi And continued on.
Next booth belonged to Binyamina Spirits, importers of GlenTurner, GlenDronach and Springbank (you might recall we had a joined Springbank tasting evening with them a while back). Thankfully, Binyamina brought with them several Glencairn glasses, which helped me to enjoy, out of a variety of – Glen Turner 8, 12, 18; GlenDronach 12, 15, 18 and Springbank 15, CV, Longrow CV – a tasting of the Glen Turner 18YO (very nice surprise, see notes below), GlenDronach18 and for the soul a Springbank 15. The Springbanks, mind you, were presented with a background of the presentation that was used during the tasting evening WI had as well.
Third booth was by AGAT&D, importers of Tomintoul, William Riddel, GlenCadam and Lauder’s. I can’t even begin to list the display AGAT&D had on, but it was quite large and very impressive.
As I never had a William Riddel I tried the 12YO fine champagne cognac wood finish. Sweet wine, fruity and mellow whisky. Nothing astonishing, but with it’s raisins and long fruity finish an enjoyable dram. I then discovered on the shelves a Tomintoul Peaty version. Being an Islay head (well known fact), I just couldn’t not try this whisky and boy was I in for a peat treat. I really enjoyed that one (see notes below), and was happy to find another non-Islay peat-smoke expression, that I’d be happy to add to my cabinet.
At the other side of the main hall, there was a draped entrance, with huge ‘The Glenlivet’ banners hanging from its sides. Being a proud Glenlivet Guardian Ambassador, I had to step in. I must be honest and say that as I have at home all the range offered at the bar in that draped room (12, 15 French Oak, Nadura 16, 18), I only stayed for few minutes and didn’t notice the importer’s identity. I asked for a 15FO dram, and then went out of that room.
You might recall that about a year ago, I wrote about a Japanese whisky tasting event held by our friend Yonni Ishai from the Israeli Whisky Society and the importer of Nikka and Yamazaki to Israel, ‘The Scottish’. Over the year, that particular tasting had quite a demand, and Yonni conducted it several more times, including at the current ‘Zman Amiti’ event (this time pouring Nikka’s pure malt, super, from the barrel and Yoichi 10YO). Three sessions in a row to be exact. I didn’t attend my self, but I did go over to say hi, and get a pour of one of my most favourite non-Scottish whiskies, Nikka from the Barrel. Always a treat.
Just before I headed out towards the caravan I told of earlier, I went to the largest bar of all which hosted I.B.B.L. Spirits Ltd, the DIGAEO distributor to Israel. I.B.B.L. had split the long bar into two sections, the one hosting Irish whisky, more particularly Bushmills (white, black, 10 and 16). The other side hosted Scots whiskies – Talisker 10, Caol Ila 12, Singleton 12 and Cardhu 12. None of the above were new to me, but Dudi from I.B.B.L., whom I know for quite some time (from one tasting event to another), convinced me to give the Bushmills 16 another try. Indeed a very likable and tasty dram it was.
The two hours I told my I’d probably spend at the event had long passed at this point. I was quite tipsy and spent almost four and a half hours in the event so far. Now I headed to the last stop; The “France Israel” caravan. Bottles of Famous Grouse, Famous Black, Ardbeg 10, Highland Park 12, Macallan 12 and Glenmorangie Original, Nectar D’Or, Quinta Ruban and Lasanta were placed neatly on a table before the caravan window.
I decided to make Nectar D’Or my last dram for the day. As I was sitting at the table I got into a nice friendly chat with Assaf, the caravan’s driver who I found out is also a Chinese medicine practitioner, and with Hagar the lovely stewardess who poured me the above mentioned dram Glenmo dram.
Asking nicely, I was also invited into the caravan, where I found a ‘relaxation’ room with sofas and atmosphere and some nice company.
As I round up this post, I need to also mention that there was also a food stand which made mean hot sandwiches and of course a ‘mini-shop’ where all the whiskies tasted could be purchased with special even discounts.
All in all, after spending a total of about five and a half hours at it, I must say the ‘Zman Amiti’ whisky event was very nicely done. Good whisky, great atmosphere, nice people and lots of fun. I managed to meet many friends I didn’t see for quite some time and raise a dram with them.
I want to thank Amit from ‘Zman Amiti’ for pampering me with admittance and tasting coupons, and Eyal, a friend from work and a former student at ‘Zman Amiti’ who told me of the event. Also many thanks to all of those who made the event such a fun venue.
And now to the promised tasting notes:
BlackFace, the black sheep of Scottish whiskies, double malt, 8YO, 46%
Nose: Most defiantly smoke. Some iodine, peat, brine. Sweetness of fruits hiding in the background. Vanilla is felt as well as oak.
Palate: Alcoholic bite covered with smoke! Creamy feel in the mouth. Some orang peel and dark chocolate.
Finish: Long, smoky and chocolaty!
One hell of a dram! It is obvious this ‘Pure highland Malt’, or according to the new regulations this blended malt, has with in it an Islay malt. For 200NIS at the event (~34GPB) I think this one was a great purchase.
Mind you, as part of trying to present this whisky as ‘the black sheep’, the bottle is brown, has a square shape and on the label there is a portrait of a Scottish blackface sheep.
I couldn’t find any online shop selling this whisky, nor any site providing detailed information about it.
Nose: Fruits, raisins, gentle oak. Some vanilla and all in all a flavoured and sweet nose.
Palate: Fruity, some oak, raisins, wine, sherry?. Vanilla very notable.
Finish: Medium with strong grapes/raisings sweetness.
A nice and enjoyable dram. with some drops of water the flavours are
enhanced. I can see my self enjoying this as a desert maybe.
Nose: Distinctive baby vomit (trust me, I father a 3months old). Peat in the classic way accompanied by gentle smoke.
Palate: Peat, smoke, iodine.
Finish: Long and smoky.
If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought this is a Islay malt. Well made!
By the way the notes a re a bit short, as I was tipsy and also, didn’t have time to go in depth into the flavours. But I want a bottle of this stuff!
Thanks for reading,