Your stories, my favourites

Yes, yes, I know. The deadline passed ages ago, then there was a big fat load of silence from me… some of you started getting anxious and all that. What can I say, sorry guys.

I have read through your stories carefully and selected 13 to go up on the blog. You will find them below (in order of submission). The stories are as diverse as our readers, but they all have one thing in common – they made me smile.

I think I know who the potential winner might be but I’m still thinking hard and, needless to say, may still be influenced by the odd comment here, on Facebook or on Twitter. I will announce the winner after the weekend once I’ve conferred with Chris, the Pope, Barack Obama and Simon Cowell.




Great Whisky moments needs 3 ingredients

1. Location
2. Friends – good company is essential
3. Time – it has to be an unhurried moment

I had quite a few of these moments and it’s impossible to pinpoint just one, but I do it. It might not read as very spectular but the moment was spectualr to me

Visiting Benromach at SoS 2009 the event was a distillery tour followed by a wee vertical, very unhurried.

The final dram was a 55yo old Benromach, we were sitting at the distillery in a little group of friends, distillery people and a couple of other guest and the quiet unhurried savouring of this dram, on a sunny day, just made this the dram to remember.


My whisky story, despite it’s humbleness, begins (and whence ends) in The Bow bar. A gentleman sits across from me and we get chatting about whisky, science and marathons (the running kind, not the chocolate bar) when he suddenly asks ‘see if you can guess what I’m drinking!’. Up until this point I’d ALWAYS got the answer wrong, and embarrassingly usually owned the said bottle in question. This time however was different, my literal moment of clarity approached. I eased myself up to the glass and took a gentle sniff, I knew instantly that this was Ardbeg, but I’d never smelled these nuances before. A lovely earthy, tobacco aroma, and hints of pungent espresso – glorious! Since I’d tried many other Ardbeg’s I was stumped, so my educated guess was ‘Supernova’…. I was RIGHT, for the first time ever! my drinking of most other Ardbegs had finally paid off!! I was very pleased with myself, and the gentleman i’d been speaking to thought i was pretty incredible too. Good times!


Vegas. Doesn’t everything happen in Vegas? It had been a long day working a booth at a tradeshow. Of course it was an outdoor booth in the warm Vegas sun, the wind causing havoc and nerves were getting frayed. The walk through the casino back towards the room was long. Aching feet, sore muscles and a parched mouth. We stopped at a little lounge bar and upon examining the top shelf saw my favourite 18 year old single malt, Macallan. At a mere cost of a meal at a nice restaurant the price suggested stay away. However, fatigue and desire won and I placed my order for that magical nectar. To share this experience, I dialed my neighbour back home and detailed, second by second my moment of bliss. Cruel? Yes, of course, but what are friends for? But onward, to that first sip, the warmth starting as it rolls over the tongue, feeling my entire body relax, shedding the memories of the day and focusing every thought, every feeling in that moment. Yes, a dram of single malt is enough to make all the rest of life worthwhile.


A few years ago I contacted a whisky collector I know (Michiel Wigman, ‘Mr. Springbank’) to buy a few samples of some of his open bottles. I was picking them up at his house and we sat down for a few drams. After talking a bit he said he had something special for me. He poured me a dram of the Springbank 50 years old ‘Millennium Collection’. Distilled in 1949, before my parents were even born.
At first I was simply stunned that he would pour me a rare and valuable sample of this magnitude, then I started nosing it. I nosed it, and I nosed it some more. It took a while for the whisky to loosen up and since it wasn’t the first dram, it had to overpower what came before (Macallan Speymalt 1999, if I’m correct). I was very surprised that the references I got were wet cardboard, hardened wallpaper and weathered dry wood. I didn’t like this € 60,- dram at all!
This opened my eyes towards finding great drams and not going for the most expensive stuff I can afford. Not all price tags that glitter are gold!


I’m reminded of a story my father once told about his trying to listen to, and appreciate, Bob Dylan. All of his friends were talking about this protest singer with a gravel-like voice that was telling it like it is. We’re talking circa 1964/65. He picked up two albums suggested to him by friends: “Bob Dylan” and “Freewheelin’”. He listened to these album be could not get into it — he couldn’t understand what his friends liked about him. Be he knew, from all of the praise about Bobby D, there had to be something. So, he listened to them over and over and over again and then realized that he kept playing them because he could not stop listening. He fell in love.

The story near mirrors my experience, from many years ago, with Springbank 15yo. It tasted like no whisky I’d had before and no whisky I wanted to have ever again. Yet EVERYBODY LOVED this whisky. There had to be something to it. I had to come back to it over and over again. It took me about 650 ml of my 750 ml bottle to fall in love. Now, it’s a staple bottle on my shelf (along side many other springers)! The moral is that it may not be the whisky that’s “bad” but our nose or palate that’s not ready for what it has to offer.


I love whisky, especially in the generally available range of peat bastards and sherry casks. In constant search of the perfect dram, my experience is that only one whisky exists which cannot be controlled and baffles you completely. I suspect that even the professional tasting wizards have a problem to grasp the essence of it; Port Charlotte PC6 is a the perfect brute among peat beasts. By my whisky friends it is known to pull down the curtains, and for a good reason. It is often the bottle that gets (re)opened at the very end of the evening. I still have not managed to record a complete tasting note of this beauty. The only recollection I can make of it, though it lasts a lifetime, is the nose. I know it has a splendid body and finish. I just know it somehow, which brings me back to my previous statement. The professionals must be battling with this dram! I strongly suspect Jim Murray only managed to get to the nose himself… Look closer at the review in his Whisky Bible! Most of it is a fabrication, composed the day after, right?

“Port Charlotte PC6 db (96,5) n24,5 ohhhhh… arrrrrrrhh….. mmmmmmmmmm….. oh the peat, the peat…… yessssss…., oh my god……mmmmmmm….. ohhhhhhh…. t24 first you get the smoky… ooooohhhhhhh… arrrrrrrrrr….. then the sweeter mmmmmmmm….. arrrroooohhhh…. f24 it finishes with a more gentle arghoooo…… mmmmmmm….. oooophhhhhh….. arrrrrrrrrr…. b24 not many whiskies have a truly unmistakable nose…. and….., but this is, this…….. is……. this….. mmmmmmmm.., arrrrrhh. Ohhhhhhhh…….. 61,6%”

I have to give it another go!


What started out as my first trip to Islay eventually turned out to change my perception of whisky completely. During the two years I had lived in Edinburgh, I had familiarised myself fairly well with what might be called ‘the standard line of single malts’. I did appreciate whisky, but at that time I felt it was simply a drink among drinks. I thought I knew what whisky was essentially about, and considered the search for the ultimate whisky experience a useless endeavor. Then, one evening in Bowmore I encountered a whisky that sparked a journey still ongoing. I was offered a dram of 1975 Ardbeg as a birthday present by a friend who had invited me to the trip. I walked out to the balcony of the pub to enjoy the view of the sea. Then, it came. I closed my eyes, and felt the pepper and sweet circus dancing in my mouth in perfect harmony. With the gentle breath of the sea at the background, and the seagulls swirling above, the lingering salty finish left me speechless. The moment opened eyes to a new world of tastes and experiences, and it is still something I dearly cherish. It was how my love for whisky came to be.


A Spiritual experience

Those guys talk a bout spirits, angels and their share? That’s what we are talking about? I thought it was just drinking something nice. Well, I got some whiskies that suggested me what they mean when they talk about smell of sanctity. And true, the smell of devil is sulphur, the smell of the bad ones. Should I fight devil at cask strength and at its full proof with some drop of holy water? But doing this I will awake the snake, is it the same one famous in the bible? I feel a bit lost, but I found a world in my glass.


My best story with the whiskey is that I live in now.
1 year ago yet I knew nothing about whiskey, I did not like it. And then a friend, a true friend, made ​​me taste a whiskey I’ll never forget.
He came from the Isle of Skye, he was 10, he joined me and go no more out.
Since I went on this magical island where everything seems to come from another planet, where the atmosphere seems to tell us so many great stories.
Mine has really nothing extraordinary but it is mine and I wanted to share with you who seem to be passionate.
And thank you ….. Slainte

PS : Sorry for my english…


Note – my whisky story is not a one off event in the past.

I am so happy to have been able to be involved in the creation of the Aberdeen University Malt Whisky Society that I help run. Every week people from all walks of life, local students to foreign exchange students, and local Aberdonians to visiting lecturers all seem to share a common appreciation of the Uisge Beatha. Even if they’ve never had whisky before. Even when a language barrier exists between two people whisky can break this down and create new lifelong friendships. International hand-gestures for “good”, “I like this”, “more please” can work wonders. I can’t think of anything else quite like it. I have experienced this first hand and can now say, thanks to whisky, I have lifelong friendships in Costa Rica, Taiwan, Shanghai, Chicago and here in Barcelona all because I shared a dram (or five) with a local. There is nothing quite like whisky.


My first son was named “Kyou-taro” after the famous Japanese blended whisky “HIBIKI” (pronounced also as Kyou,meaning reverberation). May my son’s life be merry and entertaining as its name.


Ok, my ultimate whisky experience:

It was windy morning in March, on my first trip to Scotland, in Bowmore – first distillery I’ve ever visited. I was absolute newbie in whisky, I had tried at most 5 single malts before. At the tour, when we were in warehouse the storm hit the Islay. When the tasting time came, the storm was about to end, and weather became better – sunny and slightly windy.

I’m sure I will never forget the moment I stood on visitors centre terrace with my glass of whisky. It was the best I had ever tried then. Closed eyes, face warmed by the sun, I found in that whisky all the remarkable smells from a distillery matched with wet, iodine air falling into my Glencairn. I remember very well a smell of wet barley lying on the floor, smoke-dried malt from the kiln, the taste of water from the stream supplying the distillery. And lots of aromas and flavors that were new for me – influence of aging in sherry cask. It was the day I realised I will stay with drinking whisky for some time.

Now I have tried many much better malts, but every time I nose the whisky I had on terrace I am almost there.


The sea crossing to Orkney was ‘lumpy’ to say the least but that particular hurdle was long forgotten now that we were sat with a pleasing arc of glasses before us. The main reason for bringing my wife and son (9) this far north was to join a Magnus Eunson tour at the Highland Park distillery.

Having guided us from malting floor to warehouse, James, ushered us out of the bracing Orcadian gusts, on which the smell of peat smoke wafted, and into in the warmth of the tasting room.

Waiting for us were samples to be savoured. So as not to leave my son out of things, James had even arranged tasting glasses of orange juice diluted to different strengths at the place set for Leon.

As we worked our way through the different bottlings, with James to my left providing background, banter and helpful commentary, and my wife and my son beside me on my right clearly enjoying the experience as much as I was, I felt a surging sense of happiness. With the sun coming through the window glinting the remainder of 30 year old in the glass I was holding up, I thought to myself…pure gold!

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