2019 Is almost over and I usually have my favourite drams, moments and memories already written down but this year has been a lot harder and that’s not because the standard is so high but more a case of my expectations have risen so much that the standards of the whisky to top previous years just has not been met !!
The year has brought many different obstacles for me and some of the things that happened have hit home and left many un answered questions as well as changing my preconceptions about things. one of the hard hitting topics was a conversation I had with a person at one of the festivals who admitted to struggling with things mentally, he seemed ok, he was smiling and happy, we spoke again over the next few weeks and then silence..
That silence is quite deafening !!
People are only as deep as they want to be and everyone reading this will unfortunately know someone who struggles through life, you might not actually realise that but its true! Anyone who struggles through life very rarely lets any one know, its a matter of pride you know.. Pay attention and eventually you will see the signs and I hope its not too late, people can be screaming for help inside but the outer shell is so hard it contains those screams..
It seems that more and more people are struggling to cope with modern living and a simple hello can make a difference to someone’s life, old people are very much at risk at this time of year too, most are on their own and have no one to talk with, no one expects you to give up anything but just try to be aware of who is around you at all times.
With that said let me get back to the topic..
This year I thought id just put together a few whiskies that have put that smile on my face or have actually managed to alter my preconceptions..
So in no particular order
Glen Scotia 25..
I purchased a bottle very early on in the year and was quite happy with what I taste, the bottle managed to work its way to the back of the shelf until I stumbled across it and re visited it.. The changes were actually impressive, the flavours exploded and I totally fell in love with it all over again.. I have had many expressions alter with time but this was a totally different whisky ! More was bought..
Tripple Distilled – The English..
I have not always seen eye to eye with the releases from Norfolk, I always found the peated expressions far more balanced and flavorsome but that all started to change with the more recent releases and none more so than this Tripple distilled. Its packed full of flavour and impressed enough to buy a few bottles along with the Virgin Oak..
Single Malt, South African 6 year old whisky – That Boutiquey Whisky Company (Three Ships )
This Whisky comes from the James Sedgwick distillery and is the first independently bottled whisky from, its impressive.. Andy Watts introduced me to whisky from South Africa with his Bains creation and that almost made this list but this just nudged it out but an honourable mention was still needed..
Glen Moray 1994 Sherry Finish
Ok so this really should not make this years list again but its just so damn good it had to! The 1998 is good and really should be here instead but it just does not match the 94 due to sentimental reasons, and that’s just how it sits !!
This surprised me too !! A ledaig in my top whiskies ? what the hell is happening to my palate ? But come on, this stuff is superb, it is packed full of flavour and just makes you want to smile when drinking it.. I managed to get this on my bloggers table this year too and talk about flying out, this is the red bull of whisky..
Whistle Pig 10 Rye
This is possibly the biggest surprise for me, from the moment I opened the bottle to the very last drop this didn’t disappoint.. In fact it just got better and better to the point more was sourced.. A superb Rye whisky that hails from Canada and is Top Notch…
Invergordon 45 – That Boutique-y Whisky Company
This is what old grain whisky should taste like.. Ill leave it there !!
There are of course a few more that should make this list but I don’t want to just ramble on about the whiskies I have tasted and bought, 2019 has been more about life around whisky rather than just the whisky itself..
Festivals have evolved for me this year, I have attended festivals on behalf of That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Loch Lomond/ Glen Scotia, The English and Spey! These have been superb fun as always and have enabled me to work alongside the likes of Dave Worthington, who still manages to impress me with his knowledge and never ending facts about distilleries, whiskies and obscure facts.. I also know for a fact I save him a fortune in batteries as he turns the hearing aid off every time we work together !! its my way of saving the planet.. Ibon from Loch Lomond ( I am positive he is an alien as he just never seems to stop, he’s here, he’s there, he’s bloody everywhere !! ) Mike from the English who gave me an opportunity and to Paul from Spey who once again managed to offer advice and support this year.. But like I said things evolved a little and 2019 gave me the opportunity to expand and to take on a new role, I started to do my Bloggers table and thanks to the support from companies and people like Pete from Starward who right from the start backed me with no questions asked along with Andy Watts from Bains, Distell, Jenny at Douglas Laing, Iain at Glen Moray and lastly Ibon ( once again ) who sent a cracking line up for one of the shows.. ( cheques are in the post ) These people all have my utmost respect and gratitude, I really do appreciate all the support you have given this year..
One of the highlights for me at these shows is the returning faces and the smiles they bring, the fact they always remember you and greet you as an old friend, is it the whisky they are after or a simple catch up with old friends and a whisky too ? of course its the latter..
It isn’t as easy working behind the tables, there is a lot of responsibility and knowledge needed, ok I am sure for some this might be just a job and a sales job but those people can easily be spotted, all the above names have a real passion for the industry and that’s why so many memories and moments have been forged around them this year..
The festival scene is a major reason I love whisky today, the endless chatting to people that actually want to listen and share the passion and engage is what drives many of us to achieve our dreams and make a better life.
There are some negatives to the festivals though and it seems one thing that is on the increase is the constant begging for bottles at the end of each festival, of course some exhibitors are more than happy to offer some of the public the small remains at the end of a show but please don’t beg or go from table to table in order to gain as many free bottles as possible, engage with us during the show and you might find we are more than happy to offer them at the end…
On last thing I would like to say as 2019 comes to an end is that I hope to see many of you at one of the festivals in 2020 and if our paths do cross then please drink responsibly, have a good time and be sure to say hello…
Have a great 2020.. See you around..