By Rob Allanson

A global community

Rob Allanson dips his toe in the world whisky waters.
There have been several things recently that have brought home just how vast the whisky fraternity is, as well as how passionate and friendly connoisseurs, recent devotees and the industry can be.I helped unload and prepare the samples for the first round of our World Whiskies Awards, and surrounded by box upon box in the tiny kitchen we have here, it was staggering to see the amount of whisky that is out there. And we did not even have to contend with sorting out entries from America and Japan, which were handled and judged in their respective countries.It is hardto explain the pride you feel looking at some hundred odd bottles from the various companies – possibly the only time you see this is in decent whisky shops and the distilleries, but in such a small room it is easy to appreciate one fact. If you say you do not like one whisky do not rule the spirit out altogether…there are whiskies for all palates.To twist an old saying, behind every great product there is a great person and place.The last months have been taken up with organising this year’s Icons of Whisky awards.This is one of those events where the pride of being involved turns to honour as you share a room with some of whisky’s great personalities from around the world.Nearly every whisky producing nation has a shot at winning an Icon and it is impressive once you scratch the surface and see the devotion to whisky round the world.As a journalist I have covered many high profile events ranging from politics to music and found myself face to face with, well I guess you might call them personalities.To be perfectly honest the only time I have ever felt, and this is not a good wordfor it, star struck, was when I interviewed two war veterans who had served in Burma and worked on the Changi Railway, immortalised in the film The Bridge over the River Kwai. Their tales of the experiences were truly humbling, and when one of them thanked me for taking time to chat I was floored – why would you not want to hear the stories from these extraordinary men?Where is this going you may ask, well everyone has a hero and an idol they would love to meet, and can feel equally as awe struck when finally seeing them. I know from reading some posts on our whisky forum, that some devotees cannot wait to spend a few moments with their favourite whisky luminary, five minutes or so just to ask a couple of those nagging questions.The Icon awards give us the chance to shine the spotlight on these people, who more often than not turn out to be as down to earth as you or I, just with a passionate zeal for what they do and create.The final thing that illustrates the global nature of this spirit we all love is the several outstanding websites devoted to it.Whether you read religiously the epistles on the Malt Maniacs site or post comments on Whisky Magazine’s online forum, there is a wealth of people out there who share our love for the water of life.What’s even better is they are all happy to chat and share their experiences, but also they are often happy to assist you in your own voyage of discovery in the whisky realm.Long live fraternity I say, life is too short and there is too much good spirit out there to discover.