All Things Whisky – Some of My Favourites

While sitting and sipping on a SMWS 13 year old Caol Ila (Molotov wellingtons) I thought that I would put down on paper some of my favourites from the world of Whisky. Here is hoping that as things begin to get slightly back to normal I can get back to enjoying some of my favourites that so far are out of bounds.

Favourite Distillery – Bruichladdich. A big favourite of mine, I simply love their Whisky and the warm welcome you receive when visiting. I also have many fond memories of Bruichladdich open days during the Feis Ile. Enjoyed many a mini chat show/concert by Jim McEwan and Robin Laing, a great duo.

Favourite Warehouse – Warehouse no. 1 Glen Moray. Old style dunnage warehouse and with many casks open to experience the aromas from a dozen or so different casks. The selection of whisky casks on view is wonderful, including Bourbon, sherry, cognac, cider, red and white wine, rum and IPA to mention just a few. Glen Moray is an all-round favourite of mine.

Favourite Distillery Tour – Strathisla. A grand old distillery and the home of Chivas Regal with the quirkiest still room I have ever visited. Strathisla has a fully stocked shop and various tours are available. The tour guides are knowledgeable and very enthusiastic.

Favourite Master Distiller – Graeme Cruickshank. The Master Distiller for Aberlour and is now in charge of selecting the casks to produce the fabulous Aberlour A’Bunadh. I have taken many foreign SMWS Ambassadors up to Islay for a 3 or 4 day tour and together with Glen Moray, Aberlour is a must visit distillery.

Favourite Master Blender – Sandy Hyslop. The Master blender for Chivas Brothers. He is responsible for the blending Chivas and Ballantine’s blends to mention just a couple. Sandy is a collectaholic from watches to paperweights. His enthusiasm is very infectious when he is talking about his blending team. I can sit and listen to his chat all day long.

Favourite Whisky Reference Book – Malt Whisky Yearbook. This publication is by far my favourite; it is full of distillery details, current and new. At the rear is a complete section on Whisky statistics.

Favourite Single Malt Whisky – The one in my hand. I am often asked what my favourite Whisky is, I love A’Bunadh, Glen Moray, Cider Cask Project and all drams from Caol Ila and so many more. My usual answer now is “the one in my hand ” . This is the one I have poured or selected from a pub gantry, therefore is my favourite Whisky.

Favourite Blend – Campbeltown Loch. This is a very easy drink and takes me back to my early years of drinking Whisky and makes me feel like a boy again (and that is no mean feat). It has an old fashioned taste and mouthfeel of years gone by.

Favourite Whisky Character – Charles Maclean. I have known Charlie for many years, been to his tastings, read several of his books, and loved him in the movie ‘Angels Share’. A year or two ago Nicola and I were at a Glengoyne tasting in Edinburgh and also present was Charlie. After the tasting the three of us went to a local pub for a dram or two. While sitting in the bar chatting about all things Whisky, Charlie invited us back to his home and into his tasting room for a wee impromptu tasting, great day and a great privilege.

Favourite Whisky Shop – Good Spirit Company. Based in Bath Street Glasgow. They have a vast selection of Whiskies and other spirits. They also organise regular tastings from Whisky to Champagne. This is a Whisky shop I have visited on many occasions and have done tastings on behalf of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and have always recommended them to friends and family.

Favourite Whisky Bar – The Vaults, Leith. The ancestral home of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This members bar excels in atmosphere, food, outstanding staff and some of the best Whiskies in the world. I worked at the Vaults for several years and have great memories of drams gone by, meeting new members who became friends,Check out SMWS and become a member, you will not regret it.

Favourite Cocktail – An Old Fashioned. In the Rogano Restaurant in the heart of Glasgow They make one of the best Old Fashioned I have ever tasted. Also in the Rogano I get the best poured pint of Guinness. I also love the food and the Rogano Cafe downstairs has a reasonably priced and delicious menu. They also make a great Bloody Mary, go on try one. Here is hoping that they open soon, Jacqueline misses her glass of Champagne.

Favourite Drinking Glass – Thistle Glass from Edinburgh Crystal. A great glass to sip your favourite dram from, it is also very tactile. I have had a pair of these glasses for almost 20 years. My son (Mark) and daughter (Nicola) bought me one each for my 50th birthday. Delightful to drink out of.

Favourite Non-Whisky Spirit – Gin. My go-to spirit instead of a Whisky is gin, some of my favourite gins include The Botanist, Martin Miller’s, Kintyre and Harris, but the list is not exhausted. When we get a lovely summer day in Scotland, sitting out in the garden with a large gin and tonic loaded with ice and lemon is hard to beat.

Favourite Press TripChivas 2018. I was invited to a three-day press trip to Speyside by Chivas Brothers. This grand trip included visiting four distilleries not usually open to the general public. They were Tormore, Braeval, Allt-A-Bhainne and their newest distillery Dalmunoch, certainly a trip to remember. Also as part of this trip we were taken to Ghillie Basans farm where we enjoyed a wonderful selection of food for lunch. After lunch we had a wee tasting session which included a dram from the four distilleries we visited. A great experience.

Favourite Place to Sip a Whisky – Port Wemyss. This little village sits just south of Portnahaven in the Isle of Islay. In Port Wemyss at the sea edge is a bench that overlooks the sea with the waves crashing against the rocks, so peaceful. There is such a romance about Islay. One of the sayings on Islay is “and it is goodbye to care’ The minute you arrive on Islay the pace of life automatically slows down, great distilleries. Fabulous food and some of the best beaches in the UK.

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