Some items of note from the past week or so, in no particular order. First, the Guardian gives a brief summary of something we probably already knew, and that whisky is embracing change like never before:

There must have been a time when the whisky industry despaired of shaking off its pipe-and-slippers image. Sales were stagnant; whisky was perceived as something only your grandad drank. It was resolutely uncool. Suddenly, though, in a dream scenario for the distillers, that situation seems to have been reversed. Rare whiskies are fetching insanely high prices, live whisky events are a sell-out (and attracting considerable numbers of women) and new styles of whisky are being launched all the time. And now two sacred shibboleths are being demolished: that only old whiskies and single malts are worth drinking.

I know it’s common knowledge, but it is good to see whisky getting more discussion in the mainstream press. The Telegraph gets ready for Burns Night, and takes a look at pairing whiskies with food. They chat to whisky guru Rachel Barrie:

Whenever Rachel Barrie takes a sip of whisky, she goes on a journey in her head. Smoky whiskies send her sailing on the rough seas; dark, sweet whiskies have her foraging for autumn berries; light, breezy malts have her at a summer garden party. She was given her first job in whisky in 1991, when she identified 20 different bottles by nose alone. Twelve years later, she became the first female Master Blender in history. In short, the woman is something of a savant.

On the subject of Burns Night, Forbes looks at the best places in London to have a dram to celebrate:

Despite all the talk of Scotland wanting to become independent, way down south of the border in the “English” capital of London, you can expect a flurry of tartan this week.

Why? Because Friday 25th January is Burns Night, when the Scottish diaspora — this writer among them — and anyone with a taste for whisky (not Scotch, please, we are talking about the finest single malts) gather to toast the haggis and recite the poems of “Rabbie” Burns, the Highland bard.

And finally, three bottles of rare 19th century whisky that belonged to Shackleton have been laid to rest in ice – or at least his Arctic Hut – once again:

The whisky will be transferred in March from Ross Island to Shackelton’s abandoned hut at Cape Royds and replaced beneath it as part of a programme to protect the legacy of the heroic era of Antarctic exploration from 1898 to 1915.Bottled in 1898 after the blend was aged 15 years, the Mackinlay bottles were among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy buried beneath a basic hut Shackleton had used during his dramatic 1907 Nimrod excursion to the Antarctic.


I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on or Generally, my tastes lean towards ex-sherry cask and ex-wine cask influences on the spirit, but I'm not so fussed as long as the whisky's gone into good wood.

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