So here we are hurtling into the second half of the year, those lazy Summer days beckon (well at least in the northern hemisphere), the Summer Solstice has passed and the days will grow longer for a little while yet.
Now is a good time to take stock on how things are going, six months in and how are the aspects of life going, New Year's resolutions, mentally, physically and of course spiritually in both senses.
Let’s not mix politics and whisky too much, but it has to be said that sat here right now, in the final, straw clutching days of the Prime Minister’s tenure, British politics seems to have lost its way and the respect of a nation. No matter what side of the Brexit divide you sit on, the current impasse and lack of movement after having two years plus preparation time are frustrating to say the least. Let’s face it, after the humiliating defeat in the Eurovision Song Contest, can things get any worse? Well here’s hoping not.
Well, how are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions? Still remember what they were? For me things are going reasonably, could always do better, so this half way back into winter moment is a good time to review and renew them. Drink less but better, try to be more supportive and patient, and (being a bass player) practice a lot more, an awful lot more in fact. Generally, it’s just a goal to be nicer and look after myself and those around me; except wasps. I will always catch and release, but I don’t have to be happy with them, I’m fairly sure they are an alien race that will take over soon. Well them and the cockroaches.
Looking at the wider whisky world if you haven’t visited a distillery in a while, now is the time. As Greg Dillon discusses in this issue these are the places where the passion, as well as the whisky, is kept. The people working here are the walking repositories of the brands’ histories, and in some cases where you have workers clocking up 40, 45, even 50 years service, the tales of the distillery and how things used to be.
With advances in technology, distillery tours will inevitably get more immersive and much more informative. With the likes of Diageo investing in its visitor experiences, and others following suit, the so-called brand home route could become very interesting indeed.
That said, there is nothing quite like the thrill of tracking down a cask in a dunnage warehouse, with all its mustiness, smells and darkness. I think it is always a privilege to get the chance to do this, then nose the cask and sample directly. The drama with the valinch or whisky dog, adding to the ceremony of tasting right at the heart of the liquid’s creation. These are the touchstones of memory creation for the whisky lover.
With the market ever increasing in distilleries there has been no better time to pay a visit and support your favourite whisky, or even discover something new.
Of course any growth is going to be sustainable as long as the drinkers are there. Even if people move more towards drinking local, rather than global, it will create a sustainable local base.
On this point, we should all support our local distillery. Chances are if you are reading this, you know a bit about whisky already and are interested in it. So if you don’t know where your nearest distillery is, Google is your friend; then go visit. Whether you are a dyed in the wool Hibiki fan, a lover of all things Lagavulin, or just want to understand more about what’s in your glass, please go and say hello to what might be a one-person operation just round the corner from you.
It takes time, passion and a serious commitment to build a distillery, create a brand from the ground up, physically start making the liquid and maturing it. I know a few people who have done it. These are people with a singular vision and drive; I am in awe of their determination and the guts to have a go.
So if you can, I would say add at least one distillery visit to the latter half of the year, you will enjoy yourself I am sure of it. You never know, we may even meet in a warehouse one day over a dram.