Think of a whisky snob. For me it conjures up a stuffy, plummy voiced person, bespoke Saville row suit (more Gieves and Hawkes than Kilgour), lots of rules about how you have to do this or do that, they’d probably tell you that if you put ice in your whisky they’ll kill you. They’d probably do something stupid like throw whisky on the floor to “season the glass”. They’d be Robert Paterson. How is he not treated as the clown of whisky? The Ronald McDonald of Dalmore? He gave himself a nickname of “The nose” for God sake. What more does it take?!
It’s three am. Dressed in a bright white blazer I am dancing, alone, on stage, at my local goth/biker bar, to 90s rock legends hole. I guess sometimes you just really need to celebrate!
I have a picture on my phone. It’s of me in an unknown location, wearing an unknown person’s glasses, looking miserable for an unknown reason. This can only mean one thing… Birmingham whisky festival 2017!
I hate innocent smoothies. A multi million pound company, owned by coca cola, with more sugar than coke, wants to be my mate. It wants to talk to me in cutesy cool lanugage. It tells shit Dad jokes and they wore thin years ago. If it was a person it would, without doubt, be a knob. So botiquey whisky company tread a fine line with me. They have cool comic style labels. Some work better than others, but it’s certainly a welcome change from all the standard gumpf we’ve seen a million times. They bottle in 50cl bottles, which is controversial. They say that they bottle mostly in very small amounts and the smaller bottle size enables them to release more bottles. I can understand that, and whilst it doesn’t sit perfectly well with me, I guess I understand that rationale. They also claim that they reduce the price to make up for the missing 20cl. I’ve not done masses of research but a quick search shows that their prices for 50cl are pretty much exactly the same as other independent bottling companies charge for 70 cl (independent arran 19 – botiquey: £77, single cask: £78, hunter laing: £78). So either that claim is bollocks or at 70 cl they’d be circa 30% more expensive than other companies. Are they worth the extra? Let’s find out…
Whisky festivals are without a doubt one of my favourite places in the world. Like a wedding with an exceptionally well stocked open bar, everyone is going to have a
great time. I’ve been to a fair few, learned some lessons (mostly the hard way) and have some advice: prepare, take notes, know your limits, experiment and have an
1) Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Anticipation is always a large part of any great experience. Depending on the festival in question you could have an idea of the distilleries/bottlers attending
(likely), the dream drams on offer (hopefully), and maybe even a full list of everything on show (only happened once to me, but gave me some of the best days of geeky
whisky planning of my life!). Personally I like to research to the nth degree on everything I can find out. I would suggest you at least have an idea of some stalls
that you really want to visit, and maybe a few that you will avoid. If you want to get geeky, write them down (see item 3: take note) so you don’t get carried away and
forget. One of joys of the internet is you can research what everyone’s core offerings are, what their latest releases are and anything new and limited they might
I try to plan my first 10 drams to the letter, then hit them (especially the dream drams) with military like precission. This is when my palate is at its best, my
faculties are mostly intact, and I’ve got the most energy and interest. Once I’ve hit those first few I know I can sit back and relax, the formalities are done, and
its time to have fun. My second ten-fifteen tend to be a bit more experimental, distilleries I’ve not tried before, stuff that people are talking about/recommending,
old favourites to check the current release, looking for a surprise. Finally my final five tend to be anything goes. Bourbon, blends i’ve had before, flavoured things,
rum, gin, anything I’m not going to have to think about or analyse too much, just for the joy of it.
2) Know your limits Continue reading Tom’s Guide To Whisky Festival Winning
“If any of my staff have anything remotely like a cold, they come nowhere near me. If I pop over to the pub, the landlord will tell me if someone has a cold and I’ll walk out. I don’t even have sex during this time because from kissing you can pick up something, so it’s really miserable.”
Really Jim? Do us all a favour and just fuck off. Fuck right off. Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before you disappear up your own arsehole anyway, praise be.
Link here if you think you can stomach his bullshit, I give you 20 lines before you want to smash the screen.