Over the last couple of months I have been out of the office much more than usual which has resulted in some very late nights ensuring that this issue of the magazine gets to the printer on time. I have just got back from a week in Kentucky attending the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. This involved my attending a very large number of events, tasting all sorts of Bourbons and culminating in my giving out the awards at our Icons of Whisky America event. We managed this time, thanks to the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA), to present the awards at the KDA Gala on Saturday 19 October in front of 1,200 very exuberant Americans. Preceding the awards was a marvellous event with a presentation to the great Jim Rutledge, former Master Distiller at Four Roses and now recently retired.
During the trip I was able to visit a number of distilleries, but more importantly, to meet a large number of people involved in the Bourbon industry. You can email, Skype or even phone but there is nothing like actually meeting the people who we often write about and if you are lucky, which I was, having a bottle of Four Roses Bourbon signed by the great Jim Rutledge.
There have been a number of changes here at Whisky Magazineand after 17 years Dave Broom, our Editor-at-Large, has decided to pursue new ventures. I would like to thank him for all his hard work and commitment over the years. As he points out, he has worked under six different Editors since issue one, a worthy innings indeed. I am delighted to announce that Neil Ridley, one of our existing Contributing Editors, has agreed to take on the challenge of Editor-at-Large and he will start to write a regular column from the next issue as well as writing regular features for the magazine. Please also see a very interesting feature written by his business partner Joel Harrison on page 20 which relates to Neil reaching the grand old age of 40 and a wonderful present created by Gordon and MacPhail. We are also very pleased to announce that Gavin D. Smith is going to take over from Annabel Meikle as our Scotland Contributing Editor and I look forward to working with Gavin over the next year where we are going to cover the Scotch whisky industry in much more detail.
In relation to this I have started to make a number of visits to distillery companies in Scotland and this will culminate this year, in November, with my staying on Speyside for a week, and further visits are planned for next year. If any distillery companies would like me to visit, wherever they are in the world, then please get in touch in the usual way and I will do my very best to get there or send someone else.
I am absolutely over the moon at the reaction we have had on social media to our Battle of the Blends competition. We have sent out samples to over 300 judges and the results will be announced in Mid October. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jake Mountain and Robert Boatwright-Smith at Master of Malt for getting behind this competition and for the huge amount of interest it has created. As I was visiting the United States I was able to take out 20 sets of samples so that some of the readers who contacted me could take part. I also managed to get some samples out to Hong Kong. The new contender will be announced at Whisky Live London in March 2016 and I look forward to the new competition.
It is at this time of the year that I and our Contributing Editors get together, usually over Skype, to work on ideas for features in 2016. We intend to do some regular eight page specials such as we did on Global Travel Retail and Speyside this year. However, if you have any ideas then please do get in touch as there is still time for us to take them in.
And finally I wish to have a rant about the argument for four wheel suitcases. This has nothing do with whisky but more to do with the large amount of time I have spent recently in airports. How many times have I, or others, been tripped up by people lugging their two wheel suitcases behind them. Four wheeled suitcases are the answer. They are not lugged behind the owner but held close and are wheeled in an orderly fashion with no incidents to report. End of rant.