Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pure Festival, London

Last weekend saw the inaugural Pure Festival take place in London.  The event was organised by our good friends Jean-Luc and Pierre Thibault, who are the brains behind the hugely popular whisky social media website Whisky Connosr.  They teamed up with band promoters Brand New Music to bring a fresh, new event to the whisky calendar.  The concept was simple - to try and introduce new people to whisky and to showcase up-and-coming music acts.

The event was held at cult music venue The Relentless Garage in Highbury Corner.  It is not everyday that you get to have a whisky festival on your doorstep, so we offered to help Jean-Luc and Pierre for the two days.  It wasn't glamorous, but someone had to do it!  The whisky tasting took place in the main venue, while bands performed in the intimate upstairs venue.  Once the whisky stands were cleared away, the music switched to the main venue for the evening headliners.  It has to be said that The Garage has been tarted up a bit since we last visited, while still maintaining its cool vibe.

Ardbeg love peat and women in denim ... apparently!
The exhibitors covered a broad spectrum of the whisky world.  Big names such as Ardbeg (who win the award for most creative and interactive stand, pictured above) and Whyte & Mackay rubbed shoulders with smaller boutique producers such as the new Isle of Mull blend and The Tweeddale Blend, who were exhibiting their new second batch.  One of the most popular stands at the event proved to be that of SeventyPercent, a chocolate company that matched a different whisky to a chocolate in their range. The music also covered an equally broad spectrum.  Mercury Music Prize nominee Tom McRae and former Gene frontman Martin Rossiter were performing alongside up-and-coming and highly rated acts such as Kassidy and Smoke Fairies.

Dominic on his World Whisky stand
While working at the festival we met some great people, both whisky people and festival goers.  Amongst the whisky glitterati that supported the event were Sam Simmons (AKA Dr. Whisky and current Global Brand Ambassador for Balvenie), Gregg Glass of Compass Box, whisky journalist Dominic Roskrow and Chris & Lucas from The Edinburgh Whisky Blog.  Dominic was manning a stand (pictured, above) that had a great selection of whiskies from around the world including some rare beauties from Lark's in Australia and Amrut in India.  Likewise, Chris & Lucas were also working on a stand, bringing AnCnoc single malt to the masses.  Both were consistently two of the busiest stands at the show.

Lucas & Chris spread the AnCnoc love
There seemed to be many positives at the Pure Festival, but our main observation was that the demographic of the people attending was very different to any other whisky related show that we have been to.  Most that we spoke to were new to whisky but interested in it and Pure seemed to help break down some of the perceived barriers or snobbery that the festival goers associated with the subject.  The addition of the music to the event made it feel fresh and vibrant and clearly brought a new type of person to the show.  Many of the whisky brands also commented to us that it had made so many new potential customers aware of their products.

So congratulations to Jean-Luc and Pierre for pulling off a successful two day event.  Please be sure to check out the Connosr site over the next few days as they will be uploading a number of video clips from the weekend - this includes interviews with the bands and exhibitors, whisky reviews and exclusive acoustic tracks recorded by some of the artists. We had a great time helping out with everything and hope that the Pure Festival becomes a permanent fixture on the whisky show circuit. It offers something different and brings whisky to the attention of a new audience - that can only be a good thing.

Jean-Luc & Pierre relax with a well earned dram after Pure

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