The first outing for the Whisky Squad in February (after a late January tasting with me at the helm which I was too busy talking at people during to make notes – the drams are all listed on the ‘Stuff we’ve drunk‘ page on the Squad website) handed the reins of to Joel for a tour through Speyside. While the region is named after the river Spey there are a bunch of other rivers, with the big ones being the Findhorn, Isla, Deveron, Avon and Lossie. However, despite the session’s moniker the focus of the evening was the whisky rather than any other bodies of liquid…
Since I’ve started helping out with Whisky Squad I’ve not had the chance to contribute a session’s title, but with #48 I dropped a bad pun and the chaps for some reason went along with it. An evening of grain whisky with occasional whisky photorgrapher and evil tempter Philip Storry – The Storry of Grain.
I am not proud.
I’ve known Phil for a few years. He’s an almost constant fixture at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London, comes along to many of our tastings at The Whisky Exchange, and has photographed both those tastings and The Whisky Show for a while. He’s also the reason I’m a grain whisky fan, ‘forcing’ me to try some Port Dundas at a Compass Box blending school, and since then filling my head with knowledge and my hand with random grain whiskies almost every time I bump into him. I approve.
For the first Whisky Squad of October (two every month now, like clockwork. The website almost crumbled under the load when booking for November’s sessions went live…) we were joined again by ‘Squad veteran Mr Robert Whitehead, the most likely person at Berry Brothers & Rudd to use the word ‘delectable’ and get away with it. His theme was unannounced, other than through the title of the session – More Whisky. All would be revealed (actually, worked out by the people in the room) by the end of the session…
Christmas and New Year are approaching. I know this because I’ve received the ‘prepare for the PAIN’ email at work, warning us of the propensity of people to purchase boozes towards the end of the year and the commensurate increase in the amount of work that us booze slinging retailers will see as it approaches. However, we’ve also noticed this at Whisky Squad and to help in the selection of some more thrifty purchases for the festive season we brought in m’colleague Tim Forbes of TWE to go through a range of more affordable, ‘bang for your buck’ purchases.
Rumours that the session was once going to be called “Timmy Wimmy’s Nifty Thrifty Whisky for Chrissy” are entirely true. It was vetoed quite early on by Mr Forbes, as he has a modicum of pride left in his body. I will, however, be referring to my younger brother as Timmy Wimmy for the rest of the year to ensure balance.
I am yet again behind on writing up Whisky Squad sessions. I blame the fact that #43 happened the day before I went to Maltstock, and that it’s taken me several weeks to recover from that weekend of drinking in Nijmegen and it’s follow up day of working at Whisky Live Paris. You know you are tired when you have to wedge yourself between three tables in the Eurostar bar car so that you can have a hand free to hold your beer and still not fall over as the train transitions from smooth French rails to bumpy British ones. Anyways, Whisky Squad #43, as led by Karen Stewart from Wemyss Malts.
It’s taken a while but unfortunately Whisky Squad has now run out of whisky to taste. Over 35 sessions (plus a few unnumbered ones) we’ve tasted our way through everything Scotland has to offer. Rather than curl up and die, like any self respecting society dedicated to the exploration of a specific spirit, the Squad has instead decided to switch allegiances and turn to another spirit – and thusly is it now renamed: Tequila Squad!
Or, you know, it could just be that Andy really wanted to learn about tequila and after attending a tasting session at Wahaca (which I also attended) got chatting with a chap who mainly hid in the darkness all night, making sure things ran right, and got an agreement that he’d run a session for The Squad. Jump forward a year and a bit and it finally came together, with the mysterious man in the shadows revealed to be Matthias Lataille of the Tahona Society, who brought along a friend of his – Stephen Myers from Ilegal Mezcal.
Today is St Patrick’s day, a fact I know due to a) it being the day after my mate Adam‘s birthday (happy birthday Mr A) and b) Diageo having died their lake green. Again. In celebration of this holiday that I have no particular personal attachment to I have decided to live the stereotype to the full and am having whiskey for breakfast (Bushmills Original) while writing up the most recent Whisky Squad meeting – the not particularly imaginatively named ‘Irish Whiskey #1’. The second part of March’s St Patrick’s tribute sessions was this week, Irish #2 – Cooley is Hot, with Cooley whiskey flowing upstairs at The Gunmakers, but as I was sensibly sat on my sofa less sensibly watching the fairly awful, but colour relevant, Green Lantern, this is your lot for Squad writeups for the month. Let the rejoicing commence.
Hello. I’m in Scotland, surrounded by snow and equipped with inadequate footwear, a combination of facts that should make post(s) later this week a beacon for schadenfreude tinged enjoyment. Anyways, as whisky distilleries treat weekends in February with appropriate level of contempt (they’re working but don’t open for tourists, as there are only four of us here who want to come and visit, and we’re all sleeping, going to the pub and bemoaning our inadequate footwear) today is a day for writing things, in this case a quick note (edit: quick was the intention, however it didn’t happen) about Whisky Squad #30 – The Management presents.
It’s the end of the year and it seems that buying booze is towards the top of people’s minds. As such I’ve been hidden away at TWE Towers, poking the website, processing orders, picking bottles and generally running around like the famed blue arse fly of proverb. So, now that I’m sat on the sofa in deepest darkest Somerset, have survived Christmas day, am contemplating having another dram and am trying to work out where the warmest spot in the house is without Coronation Street audible, it’s time to catch up on a touch of blogging. First up – the penultimate Whisky Squad of the year.
I am heartbroken – I missed a Whisky Squad, my first since number 4. Through the inconvenient scheduling of The Whisky Show I ended up late at work preparing for a weekend of backbreaking toil rather than sitting around above The Gunmakers surrounded by whisky. Luckily Alan stepped up to the plate and wrote it up, and while I could not possibly comment on whisky bottled by a rival retailer it looks like it was a good one (…and I may have sought out a couple of the whiskies since just to make sure). Anyways, onwards and upwards!