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HOTEL DU VIN AND MALMAISON • 33


Unfiltered meets up for a chat and a dram with Johnny Walker, Hotel du Vin’s wonderfully named spirits expert


CASK NO 73.44


‘OLD FRIENDS REMEMBERED’ “One of the finest bottlings


I’ve ever tasted was a 30 year old from this distillery and this Society bottling is yet another incredibly impressive dram.”


A ‘spiritual home’ beyond the Members’ Rooms


PHOTOGRAPH: MIKE WILKINSON


Stepping into Hotel du Vin’s dramatically furnished function room from the frosty Edinburgh street, Johnny Walker is all warm smiles and handshakes. A director of wine and spirits for the hotel group, he has an easy charm and talks with obvious enthusiasm about his job, the hotel and the Society bottlings behind his bars. Johnny has a broad role, from ensuring staff


can talk knowledgeably to guests about the hotel’s full range of drinks, to managing its extensive list and checking the cellars of its 15 hotels and two Bistro du Vin restaurants. He also works closely with the Society on the partnership under which Hotel du Vin has offered Society drams to its guests since early 2010. Johnny pre-empts an awkward question by making his rather striking name the first item of business. Over a long and illustrious career in wine and spirits, it has been “a bit of a ‘boy named sue’ scenario”, he admits.


A former craftsman cooper, Johnny went


on to become a hugely respected sommelier, winning the coveted UK Sommelier of The Year award in 2010. He is also a member of various world-renowned institutions, including the Champagne Academy and the Ecole des Cognacs. “Like the Society, we take pride in being


For more information about the Society’s partnership with Hotel du Vin and Malmaison, including special rates for members on accommodation and Society drams, visit


www.smws.co.uk/ SMWSspotlights


For more information about the bistros, visit


www.bistroduvinandbar.com


different and curious,” says Johnny. “So if the Society has a spiritual home beyond its Members’ Rooms, it’s here. For obvious reasons, we have to stock really world-class wines, so when it comes to malt whisky, we need to go beyond the usual single malts behind the bar; having the Society here lets us offer guests something unique. “The Society bottles look fantastic too and


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the numbering system is quite mysterious, so guests who aren’t Society members are curious to know more. The key is to explain what makes the bottles special. A lot of the time, they’ll be from distilleries they know, but they love getting something different from the standard expression.”


E Take a city break in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle – and enjoy a splendid Society and Hotel du Vin experience.


Society members can take advantage of a remarkable reduced rate – for the princely sum of £109, you can enjoy overnight accommodation, a £20 dining voucher, a complimentary SMWS whisky and a traditional breakfast.


TO BOOK, CALL 0845 365 4438 AND QUOTE ‘SMWS EXPLORE THE NORTH’ Terms and conditions apply to this offer – visit www.smws.co.uk/SMWSspotlights for full details THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY


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