Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire continues to rule the world of online Twitter tastings. I generally stay out of them to let more real people in, rather than industry shills like myself, but every now and again Steve runs one that piques my interest. They’ve been coming thick and fast recently and one of his November sessions was put on in association with The Great Whisky Company and Berry Brothers & Rudd. Despite Rob Whitehead‘s frequent attendance at Whisky Squad I don’t get to try anywhere as near as much of BBR’s whisky as I’d like, so I pinged Steve and got in on the tasting.
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…
In my constant quest to learn All Things About All Things David from Summer Fruit Cup is my gin saviour. Along with pinging me details of some of the more random gins we have at work he has also run occasional tastings at Graphic and invited me along. The American Gin tasting back on World Gin Day was a bit of an eye opener and I jumped at the chance of attending his most recent one – a walk through a range of navy strength gins.
The tasting procedure was the same as last time – all blind, with David revealing all of the gins at the end after we’d submitted our top three of the night. In addition we’d be asked whether we thought each was from the USA or UK, an attempt to see if there are specific general stylistic differences between the two countries.
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.
Masterclass number three of the Saturday of Maltstock was a whistlestop tour through the latest whiskies from Glendronach and Benriach, presented by the ever bouncy Donald MacLellan. I met him earlier in the year when I tagged along to Benriach with Jon Beach of the the Fiddlers during a day of ‘doing Speyside‘. Donald was helping a chap I later found out to be Bert Bruyneel of indie bottler Asta Morris (a guy who really knows how to choose his casks, as Mr Robson will attest) choose some casks and let us tag along. I owe him many beers.
My second tasting at Maltstock was the one I put at the top of my list – The Balvenie with Global Brand Ambassador Sam Simmons. Sam is a Whisky Exchange alumnus and I’ve bumped into him a bunch over the last year or so, but I’ve only managed to attend one of his tastings, a double header with UK ambassador Andrew Forrester. So, having heard tales of how good his Maltstock session was last year I was rather pleased to get a spot this time.