Q&A – Olaf Meier of SMWS – Part 1
A couple of months ago we posed a few Whisky related questions to some of our friends within the Scotch Whisky industry… We tried to choose questions that would show you the fabulous personalities behind our best export. Please feel free to post your answers to these questions in the comments section at the bottom.
We had an outstanding response to our Q&A’s, but the hard part now was to decide what order to publish the fantastic answers…
I am still not too sure but we unanimously thought that Olaf Meier – Malt Whisky Ambassador at SMWS would be wonderful going first …
See Olaf’s answers below :
When did you first get involved in the Whisky Industry and why…. maybe it was a calling from the angels, or your family were already involved?
A. I did become a member of the SMWS in 1992 and organised with their help every year a number of events. When I moved to Edinburgh in 2001 I was even more closely envolved with the Society and started to host tastings for them. In 2005 I became officially a Society Ambassador which includes hosting tastings in Edinburgh and around the country as well as regular trips to Switzerland to host tastings for the SMWS there.
If you weren’t in this industry where would you like to be and what would you be doing? Remember you are in the real world you still need to be making an income.
A. Next to my love of single malt whisky I do love rum from the Caribbean. This summer I was able to visit a very good friend of mine in Barbados and during my visit I had a chance of meeting the Master Blender of Mount Gay Rum. Sitting in his office and being in his lab overlooking the Caribbean sea, with palm trees waving in the wind on the beach I thought to myself I do have a dream job but there is certainly another one in the world – Rum Ambassador.
So far what has been your proudest moment in the Whisky Industry?
A. That is a hard question to answer but I have to say that each time I am hosting a tasting and I am able to share some of my enthusiasm for Scotland, the landscape, the people making the whisky, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and of course the whisky itself. If I recognise some of that enthusiasm in the faces of the participants it leaves me with a real sense of achievement. People come from all over the world to visit Edinburgh and hopefully following a tasting with me they take in their heart a little bit of Scotland home with them.
Do you have a favourite Distillery, which one and why?
A. Working for the SMWS which bottles single cask whiskies I have the pleasure of trying whiskies from so many distilleries on a regular basis and therefore it is very hard, indeed impossible, to answer that question. My usual answer when people ask me which is my favourite dram, my answer is ‘the next one coming’.
Where is your favourite bar / pub for drinking your favourite Dram, and who would you choose to be with you?
A. My favourite bar will always be the Vaults in Leith, the members room from the SMWS. It has a wonderful atmosphere and the beauty is that you can go there on your own and within minutes you will be talking to a fellow member discussing the drams you have. it is a great venue to meet like minded people from all sorts of life with one common passion: single cask malt whisky.
Has there been a Whisky recently that has surprised the hell out of you?
A. Again a difficult question as so many single casks throw up surprises and we in the Panel of the SMWS are always looking out for these special whiskies for our members. A couple of these exceptional single casks from recent bottling lists nevertheless spring to mind, but as we do not disclose from which distillery our casks are I mention here the number and the name; 18.30 ‘Hippie dram’, 41.45 ‘Audrey Hepburn in a ball gown’ and 4.131 ‘An artists’ retreat’.
We hope our mini series of Q&A’s with some of the industries well known faces will go some way to help us understand why the Scottish Whisky Industry is simply fantastic to be involve with.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week… who will it be?