By Mairi MacDonald

From the Editor

The best way to sell booze is, in my opinion, to let people try it. However, because of the potency of our chosen spirit, sampling needs to take place under controlled circumstances. And let’s not forget that the current vogue for whisky events would never have been possible without the
great whisky barons.So to Andrew Usher. Richard Paterson is a man so immaculate and dynamic that a sobriquet such as the James Bond of blending does him little justice. Richard took it upon himself to arrange a lunch to commemorate the life of Andrew Usher, (see pages 28 to 30) a man with as good a claim as any to be called ‘the founding father of whisky blending’. Richard invited representatives from all the Scotch whisky producers to attend. This was possibly the first time that all the rival blenders have gathered under the same roof. The Kyndal boardroom was a veritable Who’s Who of Scotch whisky: among those present were Robert Hicks (Allied Distillers), Ewan Mackintosh (Gordon & MacPhail), Jim McEwan (Bruichladdich Distillery Co.), Jim Milne (International Whisky), John Ramsay (Edrington Group), Maureen Robinson (Diageo), David Stewart (Wm Grant & Sons), Andrew Symington (Signatory Whisky Company), Billy Walker (Burn Stewart Distillers) as well as two exceptional retired
Master Blenders, Ian Grieve and Donald Mackinlay. Not to mention Richard himself, Colin Scott, David Boyd, Dr Nicholas Morgan, Dr Jim Beveridge, Dr Michael Moss, Michael Jackson and even Mark Usher, a descendant of Andrew Usher’s brother, who travelled from Austria to attend.Each blender brought along a whisky sample with a minimum age of 16 years. These were then vatted together to create a unique bottle to be auctioned by McTear’s, the specialist whisky auctioneers, in spring 2003. The money raised will go to the top students at The international Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University on an MSc postgraduate course. The remaining money will go to the
Benevolent Society of the Licensed Trade of Scotland. Congratulations to Richard for pulling off such an ambitious project.The current vogue for whisky shows and festivals continues apace, with Whisky Magazine as guilty as anybody else. We would love to attend each and every one of these events, to support them and to meet all our readers. However, until further advances in cloning are made, it is impossible. Attending whisky events can become a full time occupation, but we must find time to publish magazines in the same way that Michael Jackson has to find time to write books, magazine articles and newspaper columns. Similarly, as Steve Camisa from Buffalo Trace was very keen to point out tome, he needs to make whiskey.From the whisky enthusiast’s perspective, the creation of a whole industry devoted to whisky events is a positive development: you get to sample whiskies that might otherwise have escaped your notice, you get to witness the passion whisky-makers have for their work and, with the proliferation of whisky shows, there is greater competition resulting in better-quality events. Rather than being on the receiving end of another bog-standard product range presentation, you can attend genuinely unique masterclasses.Thierry Bénitah of La Maison du Whisky managed to pull off something that was more than ‘just another whisky event’ in Paris. From the selection of the location (a former distillery on the outskirts of the city) through the detailed planning (minibuses to ferry visitors to and from the métro) the festival was a huge success, with whisky-makers from Scotland, Ireland, Kentucky and Japan in attendance. I would love to have been able to attend the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, especially after the shock of the terrorist attacks of 2001 which, last year, removed much of the gaiety normally associated with the event, as well as whisky shows in Germany, Denmark and The Hague, to name but a few. So many events, so little time. But there is always next year …As I said, Whisky Magazine is as guilty as anyone else for the proliferation of these festivals of whisky. As well as Tokyo in November and London in March, we are planning to take Whisky Live to Scotland in autumn 2003. So, see you there!