By Rob Allanson

Welcome to Whisky Magazine

Well it’s that time of year where I think it’s good to take a moment and reflect on what has been, and to be honest this year has been a bit of a whirlwind.

There have been some stunning drams released and tried. Some of the most memorable are always the ones drunk in warehouses. There is something about drinking from the cask in a dunnage warehouse, that smell stays with you.

The year has also been filled with some excellent trips. Probably the biggest undertaking was the Barnard Challenge, travelling round the United Kingdom with the BBC's Tom Morton. This trip had some serious ups and downs. You'd think you could plan an adventure at the end of July and expect a little bit of decent weather, but no. At one point we stopped at the Ralia Cafe at about 11pm and were so cold Tom had to resort to stuffing his music notes into his jacket. But all in all it was an excellent trip with an affable travelling companion, and the Triumph Street Triple was an awesome bike. Some of the other highlights of the adventure included being greeted by a Morris dancing troupe at the English distillery, trying very young Black Bush, hugging the stills at Jameson, exploring Penderyn and being back on Orkney.

I have also been lucky enough to have been invited on excellent trips by the industry, something I never take for granted and it's always a privilege to be asked. These have included singing U2 at the top of my lungs in Dublin, sniffing oak staves in Jerez, taking my knowledge further with the in depth Malt Advocate's course and watching an independent bottler raise the bar with a seriously old whisky. All in, a stunning year.

This year has also seen me doing a little educating at the Whisky Live shows, this time in New York, LA and for the first time in Cape Town. This part of the job is great. It never fails to impress me people’s passion and eagerness to learn more about not just the liquid, but how its produced and the tales from the various distilleries. A couple of moments really stand out. Telling a woman in LA that it was OK to add water to her whisky to take away the burn. She had told me she never liked whisky because of the taste. Once she started adding water she was off...another convert, so much so I spotted her in a masterclass really getting into it. Also in Cape Town I paired Lagavulin with local biltong. Never tried this before and neither had most of the class. Seemed to go down quite well.

Speaking of whisky festivals, there have been some interesting and thoughtful discussions online about how to organise a whisky festival, what should be on show and what the enthusiast should experience. This mainly comes in the wake of the success a group of enthusiasts had in Glasgow with putting on their first show.

I for one am glad the show was so well received and perhaps it has given some people an insight into the trials and tribulations of organising such an event. It is certain you cannot please all the people all of the time, but great to give some of them some joys once in a while.

As we start looking at next year, I would be curious to hear your views on what you think a whisky show should be, particularly in the UK. Comments to the usual email please.