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14 • INTERVIEW My whisky world


Doctor Who?


WORDS: JIM BYERS


Sam Simmons is the malt whisky devotee behind the highly entertaining and enlightening Dr Whisky blog and its inimitable ‘malt missions’, which provide a review of a new dram (almost) every day. For his ‘day job’, Sam also


travels the world as the global ambassador for The Balvenie. Originally from Toronto, he is now based in London. Prior to that, he lived in New York and Edinburgh. While in Edinburgh, Sam formed a close link with the Society – first as a member of The Tasting Panel and later in a roving role as an ambassador.


When not enthusing about malt whisky,


the father of two plays various musical instruments and likes riding his bicycle.


HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER WHISKY – WAS IT ‘LOVE AT FIRST NOSE’? I have played music since I was young and have toured Canada and the US playing guitar, cello, flute and singing like a girl. People would sometimes buy me a drink after a gig and throw a ‘Scotch’ in my hands. I would say thank you by gulping it down in one go and trying to hide a grimace. When I moved to Edinburgh, the first single malt whisky I had was a


Laphroaig 10. It tasted like it was giving me cancer. I later joined The Edinburgh University Water of Life Society, where I learned how to appreciate whisky, started reading books about the history of Scotch whisky, all the while conducting as much ‘field research’ as possible.


HOW DID THE DR WHISKY NAME COME ABOUT? I moved from Toronto to Edinburgh to pursue a PhD in literature and, as most of my friends heard me wax poetic about whisky more often than about poetry, the nickname ‘Dr Whisky’ was born.


WHEN DID YOU START THE DR WHISKY BLOG – AND WHAT WAS THE PLAN? I first posted at 1.38pm on Tuesday 11 July 2006 and I have to admit there was absolutely no gameplan. While I was living in Edinburgh, I


had become a ‘go-to guy’ for a whole community of whisky ‘geeks’, both in my adoptive home (Edinburgh) and in my hometown (Toronto). When I moved to London, I lost


regular contact with my malt enthusiast brothers and sisters in Edinburgh, but I was receiving regular emails from


THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY


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