Last evening, Bruce and I attended The Grand Tasting event at the 16th Annual Hopscotch Festival in Vancouver, held at the PNE Forum. This festival has grown from a one-day event that served only scotch and hop-based beverages, to a one week celebration of whisky, beer and spirits that features 65 booths, 250 products and is attended by over 4000 people!
The Grand Tasting opened with a piper piping in the festival-goers in true Scottish fashion. The doors then opened and the throng entered the “tasting hall” lining up to sample scotch, spirits and beer from distillers around the world.
The hall quickly filled up and there were line-ups at most of the booths. I didn’t realize how popular scotch had become in the Lower Mainland! To tell you the truth, I don’t like scotch, but, I wanted to accompany Bruce to the event, because of his new found love of the amber elixir and there were a few beverages that I knew I would like to try.
First stop – food! We threaded our way through the throng and found the the Chau Veggie Express booth that was showcasing delectable spring rolls — one fresh and one deep fried. I tried them both and they were delicious!
As luck would have it, one of the liquour booths that I wanted to try was right next to the food place — Xfour Xoxolat! I rushed over to sample the Chocolate Martini! Mmm…this cocktail is ready to enjoy and made from handcrafted vodka, cocoa, espresso extract, honey and vanilla. It is rich and decadent — definitely worth a try!
Next, I found the Hpnotiq booth, where I sipped a Hpnotiq Liqueur spritzer, which was delightfully fresh, and light. Hypnotiq is made from French vodka, exotic fruit juices with a touch of cognac. And it’s a gorgeous blue colour!
My final tasting was at the Khortytsa booth, where I had tried the Pepper Honey Hot vodka – just add Clamato juice and it’s a Caesar! It was so good — just the right spicy touch!
The hall was getting packed – we had to push our way through to the other exhibitors and Bruce had to wait in line for most of his samples. I guess that makes sense, since the focus really is the scotch!
We made the rounds to the tables of the distiller’s whose liquors Bruce wanted to try — he had a list of must-sip scotches and we found them all. For more details of his experience, check out his blog.
One of his first stops, was the Highland Park table, where he sampled their 18 year old. The expression on his face as he tasted the offering, enticed me to ask him for a tiny sip. I fully expected to detest this taste, as every other scotch that I have dared to try. But this was different — it was smooth and it was flavourful, strong, yet pleasant. It piqued my taste buds and warmed my belly — I truly think that I would enjoy a glass of this! And hey, it’s only $150.00 a bottle! I guess it’s not that I don’t like scotch — it’s that I don’t like cheap scotch!!
Since the hall was getting so crowded and we had both tried all the brands we set out to, we decided it was time to go home. I had a great time and would definitely go to the festival again — probably not the Grand Tasting, but some of the satellite events, maybe one of the Master Classes or even one of the Distiller Hosted Dinners… Who knows, I might become a scotch drinker yet!
Oh, and ladies, the Hopscotch Festival is a great place to go if you want to be where the men are in Vancouver. The men definitely outnumbered the women at this event. If you are looking for Mr. Right, you might try Hopscotch 2013, he just might be there!