Well by the time you read this the presents will have been well and truly opened, those socks have probably shrank in the wash already, batteries have gone flat on those all important purchases and we are looking forward to the new year and new drinking opportunities.Reflecting back on 2008 there have been some cracking whiskies come out from across the globe to tickle our tastebuds. In fact there are too many to name but it was a great year.Highlights for me certainly come in the shape of, to name but a few, Glenrothes Robur Reserve, Old Pulteney 30 Years Old, anCnoc 16 Years Old, some sumptuous aged bourbons from Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace and Diageo’s special releases (of which I think the Lagavulin is the gem.) I think in terms of travel the real highlight was heading to Tokyo for the first time. Japan, like they say of Africa, really gets under your skin. I am looking forward to gettting back out there and exploring further.There is a real foodie side to me that wants to discover more sushi, sashimi and other mouthwatering delicacies.Mind you it is really the camaraderie when you are on the road. The whisky industry is a great bunch of people to work with, drink with and hang out with. I have had some fun times, and the hospitality of distilleries, bars and friends has been legendary.Now looking into 2009’s diary I have some fun travels already planned – and a very exciting project in the pipeline involving motorbikes, a radio presenter and several distilleries, but more about that later.With this global credit crunch, aka recession, hitting home I was wondering how it would affect the distilleries, but more importantly the drinking public. It is common that during hard times people drink more, but is this financial bump different from anything that has come before? Very possibly.So I would love to hear from you, your thoughts on how it’s affecting what you drink and what you buy.On a different, more indulgent note, I had a great tasting recently which sparked the food piece in this issue.A tiny box of handmade choclates and a sample of The Balvenie Signature turned up in the post. How nice I thought, went home, poured a dram and was transported to a very nice, safe place indeed.This got me thinking, again I know, about matching whisky with chocolate in the house – the stuff you can buy everyday. Obviously high cocoa content goes with most things, but would an orange Chocolate Leibniz?So far Monkey Shoulder and Old Pulteney 17 Years Old are a definite hit, with Thomas Handy close behind. My quest continues, possibly even a masterclass.