By Rob Allanson

Editor's Word

The joy of occasions
Readers of this column will have noticed that it is not often that I talk about what's going on in the magazine, or actually about the magazine, but once in a while I think something is worth mentioning.

Here we sit 15 years old this edition, a joyful occasion and one worth raising a glass to. Doubtless many people, when this magazine first launched, would not have predicted the growing success of this publication, and indeed malt whisky globally. But as we celebrate this milestone of some of the best whisky writing, we are in a strong, independent and authoritative position.

If I make no other promises, it will be that the magazine will continue to offer you some of the best analysis, comment, insights and reports from around the whisky world.

As we stare down the barrel of another year, it's incredible to think of how the love for whisky has grown internationally. Everyone seems to be putting more money behind their brands and upping production, all with the intention of meeting demand.

What a demand this is. Irish Whiskey is on the up, Scotch is being consumed in more countries than ever before and American whiskeys are finding favour and traction in increasing markets. Also new world whiskies (from Australian, New Zealand, Taiwan and Europe) are beginning to find their feet and spaces in consumers drinks cabinets.

To be honest there has never been a better time to be a whisky drinker, the choice is simply breathtaking.

Not only are we witnessing a new golden age in the industry, but we are also seeing it in writing. I feel that we have a staff of cracking writers on board all primed to take you on some great malt and blending journeys into the next decade of the magazine and whisky. Our team is travelling further and wider to bring you the great tales, the new expressions and the stories from the world of whisky.

The challenge, though, still remains how to bring new people into whisky, how to educate, inspire and send them off into this vast world to find their feet and explore.

The learning curve from where you start to where ever it is you want to end up can be a steep but it will be a brilliant ride and there is still much, as there is for all of us, to learn out there.

But sometimes I think we forget one thing, it's supposed to be fun. The experience is supposed to be enjoyable; if the liquid burns because the alcohol content is too high then add water until it is acceptable to your palate. Fun, joyful; not painful and staid.

Also I think its important not to forget those experiences we have with whisky, it is after all an occasion drink more than anything else. You often find that people are converted or always remember that special dram they have had at the distillery and how it never really tastes the same anywhere else.

For me I think that the little collection of distilled, crafted genius in the glass acts as a memory trigger.

No matter where we are, sometimes I think that what we are drinking has a connection to its place of birth, and has the power to transport our minds back to this place through the smell, taste and feeling.

I am a firm believer that whisky is an outdoors drink, its robustness lends itself to warming the body's core. There are certain whiskies, that when I drink inside, remind me of lovely events: drinking late into the night by peat fires or with my dad sailing.

There are times, normally at the height of summer when you can get into Windermere for a dip. A swift dram, while still having that new skin feeling you get when you swim in cold water is just magnificent.

It has to be said that dad and I shared a few drams, including Highland Park, Glenmorangie, Springbank, Macallan and Old Pulteney, at the stern of the boat, late into the evenings putting the world to rights.

To me this is how whisky should be drunk at least at some point during the months, away from the glare and noise of pubs. Nothing beats a contemplative whisky with good company and, especially off my dad's boat which looks up the lake to Ambleside, a great view.

So however you drink your whisky, wherever in the world, just one thing, it is supposed to be fun.