By Rob Allanson

Changes, changes, changes

From the weather to politics, there is a shift happening
Well who would have thought it, Whisky Magazine gets to 21 years old and like the cult BBC Radio programme Just a Minute, we have managed it pretty much without any major hesitation, deviation and repetition. No mean feat in my books.

Cast your mind back to 1998; what were you up to that year when the genus for this magazine was being discussed and shaped. It seems like a lifetime ago to be honest, well part of a lifetime. For me, I was fresh out of university and had moved from Glasgow up to Inverness and begun working in a hotel to make ends meet. The big life changing event that set me off on my career to where I am now was still lurking, waiting in the wings for its cue.

In this modern age, where we are forced really to look to the now and near future, bound in by performance targets and other such management-speak, I think it’s good to take a moment to reflect. After all, it has often been said that we cannot understand where we are going without comprehending the past and significant events. What would have happened if you’d taken a different fork in the road?

Before I move on I just want you to stop reading now, go take a glass and pour a dram. We need to say goodbye and thank you to one of the bar scene’s great rockstars, if not the modern era’s founding fathers – Gary ‘Gaz’ Regan, who passed away recently.

Gaz was instrumental in lifting bartending from just a job to a career; a philosophy shift that pretty much created the environment for today’s global bartending phenomenon. As a fellow Rochdale boy we always got on well when our paths crossed. So let’s raise a glass to this Titan of the bar world. Gaz, you will be missed.

"Cast your mind back to 1998, what were you up to that year..."

So, changes… I reckon by the time you read this, the United Kingdom will be facing changes to government – who knows where that is going to lead. I, like everyone else, have hopes this country can move on constructively.

Actually, for election night, I will be away in Greece. Having come from a newspaper background, covering elections is a bread and butter part of the job. I still find the whole process exciting and very fun. I remember listening to that election of 1997 where the UK map turned predominantly red and Tony Blair swept in. I am not going to talk about legacy, just that moment. I was in a rented three-roomed house in North-Eastern Scotland, radio on, fire going, a bottle of whisky open and some lovely company. That was an evening of profound change. I don’t think this election will usher in such a change, but it will be worth watching what happens, not least because of any potential effects on our favourite drink.

As I had mentioned in the last edition, there is a minor tit-for-tat tariff war going on between the European Union, UK and the US that could upset the whisky apple cart. I think for the big producers it will be a tick bite, but I worry for the smaller producers who are looking at export as a way of creating a brand and making a living for themselves. Mind you, I’m not sure why you would want to start a distillery if you wanted to make an immediate living, maybe gin or vodka I suppose, but still…

This time of year my thoughts turn to those sherried monsters

One thing that is definitely changing is the weather. As I look out over the fields where I live, the trees are stripped and at the moment there is a fairly hard frost. It’s time to move on from highballs and light whisky and branch into something with a little more heft and weight behind it. This time of year my thoughts and drinks cabinet tends to turn to those sherried monsters and the variety of peated whiskies out there; also I start to prefer my Bourbon with a little more ABV and wood influence.

At the risk of sounding older than I am, now is the time of year when you should draw the curtains in the evening, light the fire, pour something that is going to warm the body and put the world to rights.

In a time when things change fast, it’s good to know we can rely on whisky makers and Mother Nature to take their time in bringing us a little something worth waiting for. Cheers, and see you on the other side, if not of this looming election, then of the festive season.