Two dreams come true
Firstly, the production people for The Angel's Share, the new film about the whisky industry directed by acclaimed director Ken Loach, approached my publishers and asked whether they could use my book in the film. For me this is dreamland stuff so I went to a preview of the film in nervous anticipation. And sure enough, the book's there. As is whisky writer Charlie MacLean. The film is an uplifting Scottish romp with whisky as its core and its thoroughly recommended.
And then Whisky Shop chairman Ian Bankier, for whom I edit Whiskeria and run The W Club, invited me to watch Celtic V Norwich in Norwich for a testimonial match. Ian is chairman of Celtic so he asked whether I'd like to join the Celtic team for a mid afternoon meal and then - wait for it - travel with Celtic to Carrow Road for the game.
So not only did I get to travel with the mighty Celtic - for whom I have had a lifelong affection - but I got to spend 20 minutes with Leicester City legend, and one of my heroes, Neil Lennon. He is an utterly charming, intelligent, honest and direct man who lived up to everything I wanted him to be.
I'm not sure it gets better than that.
Rest in peace Alan
Since I last produced the World Whisky Review I have quit working for The Spirits Business and launched my own awards. But in February I was in Bangalore when I got an email telling me that my deputy Editor on Spirits Business had had a brain haemorrhage and died. He was 29.
Alan was opinionated, intelligent, talented and a maverick
There are no words to describe how horrific that day was for me, although obviously nowhere near what his poor family and girlfriend had to go through. Alan was funny, passionate, opinionated, intelligent, talented and a maverick. He should have ha an amazing career ahead of him. I think about him every day and am motivated to look on the bright side of life permanently because of him. If nothing else his tragic death taught me that we only have life and we should live it and relish it. He loved Ardbeg so every time I taste one of my favourite drams I toast him. Rest in peace Alan.
And while on the subject of Ardbeg the wonderful Ardbeg distillery manager Jackie Thomson told me recently about a Swedish heavy metal and malt whisky society so I contacted them and they made me an honorary member.
Then Jackie asked me to match her whiskies with rock and Americana music in return for whisky. wow! What an honour. What do you think and what would your choices be? This is what I chose…
ARDBEG and MUSIC MATCHING
Characteristics - Champagne spirit, bubbly, fresh, new, young, celebratory, positive
- Dance The Brilliant Things
- Bubbles Biffy Clyro (perfect as they're Scottish)
- Fire Away Dawes
10 YEAR OLD
Characteristics - Classic big Ardbeg and a feisty bad boy but at its sweetest and on its best behaviour. So classical rock with potentially dark and dangerous undertones
- Sweet Child O Mine - Guns N Roses
- Lonely Boy - Black Keys
- Come Pick Me Up - Ryan Adams
Characteristics - An outstanding Ardbeg, rich full, powerful, complex, bold, luxurious, indulgent. Close your eyes and submerge yourself… so indulgent and hedonistic
- Save Me - Black Country Communion
- Weep Themselves To Sleep - Jack White
- Country Feedback - REM
Characteristics: Big bold bourbon barbecue, husky, smoky, charcoal, wizened, smouldering…
- Ace of Spades - Motorhead
- Things My Father Said - Black Stone Cherry
- Hemingway's Whiskey - Kris Kristofferson
OLD SHERRY CASK
Characteristics: Big, powerful, classic, rich, contrasts, clashes
- In The Evening - Led Zeppelin
- Mistreated - Deep Purple
- Desperadoes Waiting for A Train - Willie Nelson
Characteristics: Upbeat, sweet, big flavours, pure, vibrant, complex, celebratory
- Sine On You Crazy Diamond - Pink Floyd
- Dream On - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
- The Wonder of You - Elvis Presley
What music's cool this year?
It's shaping up to be a great, great year for music but if you're in to retro heavy rock then three albums you have to buy are El Camino by The Black Keys, Blunder bus by Jack White and most of all, The Russian Wilds by Howlin' Rain.This last choice is a classic, firmly planted in the early 70s and dripping in Free, Purple and Zep references. I love it...