I doubt many of you, either inside or outside of the Netherlands, are familiar with the Ypenburg Whisky Festival. The name doesn’t ring bells or generate press the way popular outings like Fèis Ìle, Limburg Whisky Fair, or the Victoria Whisky Festival do. While it may not be as large, glitzy or well funded as the aforementioned events, it’s almost certainly every bit as fun.
Earlier this week I was contacted by a gentleman named Ruud, who had stumbled across The Whisky Mafia and quickly ascertained that not only am I a whisky enthusiast, but also currently gallivanting in and around the area of Den Haag. Ruud is the founder and fearless leader of Whisky Club Ypenburg, a shadowy collection of extremely enthusiastic and fun loving Dutch whisky aficionados. After a brief e-mail exchange, my wife and I found ourselves invited to the Ypenburg Whisky Festival, which took place last night at Ruud’s home. A combination BYOB bottle share and BBQ, Mrs. Whiskymafia and I carted along our Kilchoman Sanaig and Signatory Vintage Glenlossie to share with the group (our tales of acquiring those bottles can be found here and here).
As pictured above, the selection on hand was positively bananas. The roughly 25 attendees each brought along at least one contribution, making for a mighty pile from which everyone was free to pour over the course of the evening.
Pictured above are some of the most notable bottlings I came across. There was an Old Pulteney hand filled at the distillery specifically for this event, one of the 2017 Fèis Ìle Bowmore releases, a shockingly old grain whisky from Invergordon (1972!), and one of the most amusingly named SMWS bottles I’ve ever laid eyes on.
The real draw however, apart from the spoils of whisky, excellent snacks and abundant barbecued delights, was the warm and friendly atmosphere created by the attendees themselves. Highly engaging conversations (whisky-centric and otherwise) sprung up at every turn, and there was a genuine sense of community and friendship that permeated the proceedings. The power of whisky to serve as the catalyst to bring people together, no matter their language, culture or background, never ceases to amaze and inspire me.