It’s like a posh Bluewater for booze, situated at the end of Borough Market in London (where, by happy chance, you can get a great Caribbean curry for £5.00).
Actually, the Bluewater analogy is a little misleading, as Vinopolis is all about tasting and education, rather than mindless consumerism.
It is a large, sprawling building with areas set aside for the various wine companies to offer sampling and tasting events, and recently, spirits companies have been getting in on the game.
Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Brothers are the newest tenant, and BarLifeUK were fortunate enough to be invited to the first press tasting session they have held since moving in two weeks ago.
The History Wall
The Chivas area of Vinopolis is very conducive to tasting whisky. It is a red brick, softly-lit domed archway that encourages you to concentrate on the task at hand.
Chivas Brothers UK Brand Ambassador, Phil Huckle, took us on a journey through Chivas’ fascinating history using the ‘history wall’ as a prop.
This wall holds photographs of distilleries, significant characters and old advertising posters, dating from the brands formation, through WW2 and the great depression and into the present day.
The Aroma Wall
On another wall are glass jars that contain the significant aromas of each of the three Chivas blends that we tasted. This is a great mechanism, as when we sat down for the tasting, the individual flavours were much easier to pick out, having previously identified them with our noses.
During the tasting we were given samples of the 12, 18 and 25YO varieties, the latter being cradled in Phil’s hands like a new born baby, due to the fact that only 500 bottles are released to the UK each year.
The 18YO came across as slightly smoky, with lots of dark chocolate on the tongue. Phil swears by this in a Blood and Sand and we could certainly see why.
The 25YO, when tasted with a splash of water to open up the flavours, was exceptional, with notes of peach and milk chocolate. Perfect for sipping with a cigar, should your wallet stretch to the £199.99 price tag for a bottle.
The Chivas area of Vinopolis is well worth a visit, both for Phil’s obvious expertise and also the chance to sample some very palatable whisky. A most agreeable morning spent, by all accounts.