I originally got my start writing about whisky talking about the important things. These things were not just tasting notes, or the history of the distillery or the history of the barrel.
These things were the events surrounding the tasting of tasting of the whisky, who I was with, what was happening and even more important, what that wound up meaning to me in regards to the whisky.
For a year now I've been getting whisky samples from distilleries and importers and this is great, there's no denying it. I get the chance to try all sorts of really cool whiskies that I normally wouldn't, but what has happened as a result of receiving all of these cool samples is that there oftentimes isn't a cool story behind me tasting it.
It's just an incident of me receiving a sample, what are the tasting notes and what I think of the whisky.
Because of this I've found that I'm writing less and that when I write I don't take as much pleasure in it as I used to.
It's time to get back to my roots, the people who make whisky special for me.
This story spans 9 months and 2 cities in Australia, Perth and Brisbane.
I try to help everyone in the whisky industry in Australia, and to be honest anywhere else in the world. I figure that the more exposure that good whisky gets around the country and indeed the world, the more selection that myself and other whisky geeks get access to.
In the course of a whisky tasting that I attended I wound up meeting one of the owners of Whisky Live here in Australia. I had purchased tickets for my wife and myself to attend Whisky Live Perth and over the course of the evening myself and the Whisky Live guys got to chatting. They were surprised to find out that I was a whisky blogger, and even more surprised to find out that I'd purchased tickets to the events as opposed to sending them a request for a free ticket or two.
I didn't find anything too special about it, preferring to purchase as much of my whiskies and tastings. I didn't and don't want any special treatment, especially if I don't deserve it.
Over the course of Whisky Live Perth I helped the guys out, making suggestions for next year, giving feed back about the event, and also writing about what would be occurring as I received information, what whiskies would be available and such. Nothing too fancy, but the guys appreciated it.
It wasn't until after Perth that I found out how much they appreciated my help. They said that I could have free access to any Whisky Live in the country and invited me to attend the rest of the cities in Australia.
Exciting as it was, I had something even better coming up, a 4 week trip to Scotland and Singapore with my lovely wife, to be joined by my brother, brother in law and sister in law for a week in the motherland.
You may have read about my journey to the motherland, it was everything that I described and so much more, I honestly never wanted to head back to Australia or the US, trying to convince my wife to buy a house over there in Scotland.
But upon my return I saw that there was one Whisky Live to go, Brisbane.
My very good Connosr buddy, Othmar, who many may know as Systemdown, lives in Brisbane, so I talked to the guys and asked if they'd mind if I went to Brisbane.
Come on down! Bring your buddy!
So I did. I got on a plane on Thursday night and was in Brisbane early Friday morning. I checked into my hotel which was where the Whisky Live guys were staying, met up with them once they'd woken up and chatted about Whisky Live 2014.
After that it was a quick nap while I waited for Othmar to join me in the city. He arrived around noon, and joined me in a few whisky barrel aged beers that I'd purchased from a bottle shop over here, Cellarbrations at Carlisle. Working in the beer industry I thought it might be nice to introduce Othmar to some cool and weird beers.
We enjoyed them, but quickly decided that we wanted to play around with some whisky, at which point Othmar took me to the best whisky bar in the city, Cobbler.
A brilliant bar, where Othmar and I played around with Glenmorangie Signet (totally not worth the hype in my opinion!) amongst other whiskies.
And then it was time for Whisky Live. Othmar and myself snuck in before it opened at which point we wandered around the different exhibitors, chatting like old friends who'd known one another for years instead of guys who'd just met for the first time in person.
We tried for our very first whisky a whisky that I loathe, Hellyer's Road. We made that our first stop as Othmar had heard about my intense dislike for this whisky and found it very odd as normally our palates line up together in harmony. He couldn't understand why I hated it so much, especially considering how he'd tried it at a prior whisky show in Brisbane.
Once we tried it, he totally agreed with me about how nasty it was. I couldn't stop laughing due to his facial expression. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, they lie, it's worth at least a million words.
The evening went well, but with very little surprises. Until we met Laura Hay.
Laura Hay is the Glenlivet Brand Ambassador for Australia.
I'd just had a nip of the Glenlivet 18 year old, when Laura Hay called me over. She told me that she'd been informed that I was a serious whisky lover, a hardcore whisky lover and if I came through a little bit later when it had quieted down a wee bit she might have a special surprise for me.
Othmar and myself shared a quick with one another and said the only thing one says at a moment like that.
Half an hour, 45 minutes later Othmar, myself and a couple of guys that Othmar knew swung by the Glenlivet stand, glencairns in hand.
Laura grins at us and out comes a bottle of Glenlivet 25 year old.
Oh my god!?! That's a $500 bottle!?!?! Our mouths are hanging open in awe as Othmar and myself stare at one another.
She pours a wee nip in mine and Othmar's glencairns which was shared with the other two guys.
And then it began!
Othmar and I stared at one another in amazement, the nose was lovely, the palate to die for, unfreaking believable!
The other two guys just stared at us in confusion, not quite getting why Othmar and I were so excited.
Fair enough, it's all relative.
For both Othmar and myself it was easily the whisky of the show. Mindblowing, special, epic, words wouldn't do that whisky or even the moment in time justice.
And that was that. I never thought I'd get to try the Glenlivet 25 year old again.
Until I met my brother Vinesh.
Vinesh is my Indian brother from another mother to put it simply. I introduced him to great whisky and he introduced me to great cigars. He started out as a customer of mine through the beer shop that I manage, but our friendship quickly grew. We'd hang out every couple of weeks, chatting whiskies and cigars.
He recently returned from a trip to Singapore and having heard me rave about the Glenlivet 25 year old, had decided to pick up a bottle from Duty Free for roughly $325 AUS (What a freaking awesome price!! I'd have 4 bottles at that price!!)
When he'd returned he invited Squidgy and myself to his house for whiskies and cigars and a surprise. Once we arrived he grinned at me, a huge Cuban cigar in his mouth, and held up the Glenlivet 25 year old box.
We cracked the bottle then and there, poured the whisky into three glencairns and then
We all nose the whisky, quietly absorbed in this beautiful little Speyside.
Deep ancient oak, like being in a library full of ancient books, heavy sherry influence, sultanas, figs, cinnamon, nutmeg, tobacco, old leather, dark chocolate, vanilla, pears, honey, almonds, hugely complex and easily the best nose I've picked up off a Glenlivet.
Then the flavors!
Toffee, sultanas, figs, honey, red vine liquorice, pears, citrus fruits, oranges, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, sherry, creme brulee, delicious, so very delicious.
The finish lasts forever, with the fruit, peaches, pears and spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, lasting forever, lingering on and on before finally vanishing with just the slightest wisp of spice.
I love this whisky, if you can't tell, but Vinesh looks at me after his dram and says "I don't like it, at all, totally not my thing, I can't stand it"
Both Squidgy and myself love Vinesh dearly, but this is one area where I disagree with him on whisky. Squidgy and myself have been able to enjoy this whisky multiple times now due in large part to Vinesh and Laura Hay, and a huge thank you goes out to the both of them.
If you can't tell, if I could afford to I'd have two or three bottles in my cabinet at all times. If you ever get a chance to try this whisky, do so.
@Systemdown, hehe like I said my friend, what I used to write about was whisky memories. I'm really weird in that movies and whiskies mean so much to mean, so I can almost always remember who I was with and what I was doing for both of those things. To the point that whenever my wife and I travel I always make sure we visit a cinema while we're in the new city as it really cements the trip for me.
The tasting notes however came off Vinesh's whisky, which I am almost 100% certain was a slightly different vintage/version. Ours was just a tad better. It was such a great night my friend and I can almost guarantee you another taste of it :) I'll ask Laura.
Wow, nice write-up. Can't believe you remember all those details from Brisbane! I don't know if it was because I'd already had several drams at Whisky Live, or if it was purely the quality of the whisky, but it WAS exceptional and I'd like to try it again some time.