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16 • INTERVIEW


no, not Johnnie Walker, but “Scotch whisky”. Ezra Pound because I want him


to understand how whisky was the only way I got through researching and writing a dissertation about him. He drove me to whisky! My brother because we’ve lived far


away from one another for nearly a decade and, although I have given him several bottles over the years, I don’t think we have ever just sat down and enjoyed a few drams together.


WHICH ‘WHISKY PEOPLE’ DO YOU TURN TO WHEN YOU WANT TO READ REVIEWS OR GOOD WHISKY WRITING? I hope he won’t mind my choice of words, but Serge Valentin is the ‘old guard’ online authority on malt whisky I turn to most. Of the more recent folks, Joshua Hatton’s [founder and president of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society and blog of the same name] notes inform and entertain in technicolour while Ruben’s Whiskynotes.be continues with a consistency I failed to achieve, with bottles that continue to impress. For my money, Dave Broom is the best


journalist writing about whisky today. His prose brims with honesty and passion. Charlie Maclean is a living encyclopedia on all things Scotland and whisky. The amazing thing is that nearly all of the above can be found in one place, The Malt Whisky Yearbook – so Ingvar Ronde needs to get a nod from me here as well.


See Sam’s musings on malts – take a hop, skip and a click over to


As a guest, when a tasting ceases to be about passion, fun, and personal enjoyment, and more about listening to brand propaganda, science and/or competitor criticism, I swear that somewhere a little orphan cries whisky tears.


WHAT IS THE STRANGEST COMMENT YOU HAVE HEARD AT A WHISKY TASTING? Two great ones from last week in New York: “Oh, Balvenie… yeah, not a big fan. Too peaty” “So (pointing to bottles of single malt Scotch whisky), are all of these cask matured?”


IF YOU COULD BE A ‘DR’ IN SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHISKY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? This is the hardest question I have ever received. Love, perhaps? I don’t know if I would deserve the doctorate, but I figure I would enjoy the research!


THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY


drwhisky.blogspot. com


IF YOU WERE A DOCTOR WITH A ‘PATIENT’ WHO DOESN’T LIKE WHISKY – WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE THEM TO TREAT THEIR ‘CONDITION’? Alphabetically – Aberlour 10, Arran 14, Balvenie DoubleWood… Approaching whisky for the first time


can be so intimidating because we all bring baggage with us of what we think Scotch whisky means – what it means to drink it, rules of degustation, age, alcohol strength, status, luxury, etc. Like when a GP puts a cold hand on a patient’s testicles and asks them to cough, I would advise new whisky drinkers to distract themselves, set their minds free before first approaching whisky. Let it surprise you.


IF YOU COULD SHARE A DRAM WITH THREE PEOPLE – ALIVE OR DEAD – WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE? Alexander Walker [son of John ‘Johnnie’ Walker of the whisky brand] because he truly was a commercial visionary in instilling one of the world’s most lasting and powerful brands into the minds of millions:


A SHORT BUT PERHAPS TRICKY QUESTION TO END WITH… WHY IS MALT WHISKY SO GLORIOUS? It is the most complex spirit in the world tightly woven into the cultural history of nations (not just Scotland)… but it is so much more. Whisky is a warm embrace when


we’re cold, an easy conversation between complete strangers, a friend when we feel alone, a reminder that we are all part of a much larger story than our own individual experiences.


PHOTOGRAPHY: CHRIS RENTON


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