Whisky, for me, was always a trying experience. I used to drink the worst supermarket plonk money could just about buy as a student and until about 18 months that’s shaped how I felt about spirits in general. I wasn’t just drinking shit stuff, I was drinking cheap and nasty shit stuff, so no wonder I wasn’t going to get on that well with it. But as I said, 18 months ago, two things happened about the same time to change my tune.
First up, I did the spirits unit of my WSET diploma. It was the history, production, and range of tastes of the major spirits around the world. In a room full of wine-o’s, there were still plenty of sneers and looks of disgust, but when you come out of a room waxing lyrical about Wray & Nephew Overproof (look it up!) you know you’re a convert.
Secondly I met Colin, one of the UK’s leading whisky afficiandos, and a lovely man to boot. We met on a press trip to Napa, and stayed in touch ever since. He took me under his wing and took me round (and got me absolutely smashed) at The Whisky Show and Whisky Live whenever they’ve been in London. This man knows his whisky, so when he mentioned there might be a spot at the release of Glenmorangie’s new luxury baby and that it’ll be one not to miss…well, sign me up!
I turned up in a suit, which is a bit strange for me, but I wanted to show my respect for these guys and my thanks for the invite. Glenmorangie is owned by LVMH after all! But five minutes with nutcase distiller Brendan McCarron and we could have been sat there in our jocks for all it mattered. The product – a special edition 1989 vintage whisky matured in Cote-Rotie barrels – was very serious, Brendan on talking about said product was very serious, Brendan talking about anything else in the world was not very serious. He was brilliant.
I appreciate fully, especially given my whisky-drinking past, that it can be a drinks category with a barrier to entry from a taste point of view, especially in the entry-level segment. My friend, the drinks creator and author David Gluckman, uses whisky in his analogy about market research reports: “if whisky was a new product, do you think it would get past the taste test in a room of 20 random people?” This stuff would Dave, it would knock their socks off!
Now unfortunately for me, drinking whiskies of this standard gives you a lasting taste for whiskies of this standard. At about £550 a bottle little old me will have to just remember the joys of that night of tasting with Brendan and company. How could I forget it?
Prices start from £550 a bottle at various retailers online, search “Glenmorangie 1989 Vintage”