By Christopher Coates

Something ends, something begins

Musing on new starts, old friends and 21 years of Whisky Magazine
It’s a time of reflection here at Whisky Magazine, as we’ve reached the end of our 21st anniversary year and taken the opportunity to look back on more than two decades of this venerable title. Was it the year we had planned for our ‘coming of age’ celebrations? Of course not. However, what the brief pandemic-induced hiatus in our publishing and events earlier this year did allow was some time for introspection and appreciation of all the people who make this magazine possible – our team, readers and friends in the whisky industry. I’ll certainly be raising a dram to all of you!

I’m delighted to say that, as a result of the passion, dedication and support we’ve received from all quarters and in spite of the highly unusual circumstances in which we have all found ourselves, it has nevertheless been a strong year for the magazine. We’ve managed to deliver all eight of our planned print issues; return to online publishing with renewed vigour at; carry out judging (remotely) for the World Whiskies Awards, Independent Bottlers Challenge and Icons of Whisky; and boost our presence on social media.

What’s more, we’ve created an all-new remote whisky tasting experience, Whisky Live At Home, that we hope will keep all of our Whisky Live London 2020 ticket holders entertained and awash with samples until we can celebrate the water of life in person once again. For this special event, we’re delivering immense tasting packs that are accompanied by more than 15 hours of on-demand video that forms season one of Whisky Live TV.

While 2020 has seen the world and the way we all live transformed in big ways, here at our offices the year has also seen some changes not only to the way we work but also to our team line-up. After many successful years at the helm, issue #170 was Rob Allanson’s last as editor and I have the great pleasure of taking his place in the captain’s chair as we forge ahead. From one custodian of the good ship Whisky to another, I’d like to thank Rob for keeping a firm hand on the tiller through both the calm waters and the stormy. Furthermore, I’m delighted to confirm that his insights, tasting notes and stories will continue to appear in these pages for many issues to come.

Of course, though Rob has set off on his own new journey, I won’t be sailing alone and I’m overwhelmingly glad to be joined by Phoebe Calver, deputy editor; Bethany Whymark, production editor; Martha Crass, content executive; and our outstanding crew of expert regional editors and contributors from around the world.

It’s an honour to work with such a passionate and knowledgeable group of whisky lovers and I look forward to welcoming even more on board from every corner of the globe in the years to come.

I’m a firm believer that one of this magazine’s great strengths – and a key reason why it reached its 21st birthday – is its commitment to celebrating all whisky, regardless of where the spirit was made, the identity of the distiller and who is drinking it. There’s a whisky out there for everyone and all should feel welcome to enjoy a dram. Whether the spirit ran from stills in a nation that’s produced whisky for three centuries or three weeks, whether the liquid was crafted by a fifth-generation blender or someone who dropped everything just last year to pursue their passion for distilling, and regardless of whether the brand’s most loyal fanbase is drinking their whisky neat at the fireside, alongside a half of beer in the pub, with cake at afternoon tea, or in a highball at a rave, Whisky Magazine will continue to be there to tell these stories and offer insight that’s valuable to all.

This open and positive philosophy pervades all we do and, most importantly, I feel it is reflected in the voices we amplify through our pages and the diverse audience we seek to engage. Of course, more can always be done to reach further, be better, find new stories and take the time to listen to unheard voices, and that’s something I promise we’ll keep doing. We will continue to celebrate the whiskies of the world and I invite all who have a taste for whisky to join us. You thought the last 21 years were good? Well, that was just the first nip – the next dram will be even better.