By Rob Allanson

Questions and titles

Things get a little existential as deadlines are extended
It feels like that moment where you have had all summer to complete your school assignments, only to leave it all to the last minute before going back to uni. The United Kingdom has had what feels like an age to debate and finalise plans for leaving the European Union, but now it feels like the nation’s leaders have only been looking at matters when absolutely necessary. The sort of, “I know I have homework, I know what it is and when it is due. I can do it later…”

At the time of writing, the UK has been given an extension until the end of October to sort out a deal over Brexit.
It does appear that the leaders in Europe either have become fed up with the near constant crisis negotiations, certainly in the last few weeks; giving the UK time to find a decent deal, or possibly they have a wonderfully dark sense of humour (and actually like newspaper headline writers, cartoonists and comedians). You see the UK is now due to leave on Halloween. Cue apocalyptic jokes and comparisons with Hell arriving on earth – well at least in Westminster.

Quite what all this means for the whisky industry is unclear at the minute. Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, Karen Betts said back in November that the industry had consistently called for clarity over what the UK’s new relationship with the EU will look like in practice, particularly on the continued protection of geographical indications, customs procedures and future trade policy.

On the issue of potentially crashing out without agreements, she added, “A no-deal Brexit would cause the Scotch Whisky industry considerable difficulties and would force cost and complexity into production, distribution and exporting.”

Unlike whisky, this Brexit wrangling and whatever happens in the end is probably not going to improve much with age.
However, enough of politics, and back to some recent happier memories, and especially now we are back
into show territory again.

Whisky Live London is always a great moment in the whisky calendar. Despite all the hustle and bustle of the event, it is a perfect time to catch up with old friends, meet some new ones and of course try excellent whiskies.

If you are a regular visitor to the London show, you might know that during the two days you can find me in a small room upstairs, wittering on about whiskies that have caught my eye in the World Whiskies Awards during the course of the year.

Now I know these classes are called masterclasses, but if I’m honest, I am uncomfortable with that term ‘master’, and it’s the same with expert. Me? ‘Master’? ‘Expert’? No, no, no, I am just someone who enjoys their whisky and is good a spinning a yard. I feel these terms should be reserved for the ones who create the whisky we all enjoy. These people, from warehouse workers to the master distiller and blender are the real experts in the field.

They are the ones who know the intricacies of the science and the liquid, the experiments and innovations. Just to touch on the ‘expert’ word; well I don’t feel that mantle is deserved by me either, and again I find it uncomfortable. ‘Expert’ implies you know everything and when it comes to whisky I am certain there is always more to learn, more to explore, and still so much that remains unexplained.

Now that is one of the fun things about doing classes at show, the questions you get asked. Not the “What’s your favourite whisky” ones, but the ones about production methods, maturation and what’s going on in the glass.

I had a couple of belters at the last show, and as I promised at the time, certainly one of them I will research and answer in time.

To circle back to politics and the future of whisky, sorry, I think there are some big, elephant-like questions lurking: where is this boom going, is it sustainable and might it end?

I think eventually this growth bubble will burst. You just need to look historically; bust follows boom, like night follows day.

One thing is for sure, while the going is good, and we have never had it so good, it’s time to enjoy and explore everything that is out there.