By Rupert Wheeler

Spreading the Word

Out and about in Scotland and Kentucky
At Whisky Magazine we are always looking for new ideas to engage our readers. For the first time since the redesign of the magazine in 2013, we have produced a special feature on Global Travel Retail (GTR). Joe Bates, our resident Travel Retail expert, examines this hugely important market for whisky producers and which is now a £40 billion business. I had no idea that duty2free started way back in 1947 at Shannon airport where a wily catering manager, Dr Brendan O'Regan, decided that it would be a very good idea to try and get some additional revenue from his captive audience.

At the end of the article we have chosen a number of GTR exclusive whiskies which two of our regular contributors were given to taste, and the results are on page 52-57. It is our intention next year to follow this up with other specialist tastings. I hasten to add that this has not prevented us from including our usual round up of New Release tastings.

Since the start of the Battle of the Blends, and now in its final round, I have been overwhelmed by the response from our readers who wish to take part in the judging process. I have been approached by readers from as far afield as Hong Kong, Australia and the United States as well as many here in the UK. The samples will be going out at the beginning of September and the voting will be done entirely online. It is still not too late to contact me at the usual address if anyone would like to take part, but you need to be quick. The result will be announced in Issue 132 which publishes on 4 December. We then intend to bring the two combatants together at Whisky Live London in March 2016 where a new contender will be announced. The blends will be deconstructed by the two blenders and there will be samples of both blends available for tasting (as long as stocks last). The plan then is for a new contender to take on the winner and for the competition to start again and rollover until Whisky Live 2017.

Again in relation to reader feedback, we had a superb response to our Whisky Magazine Photo Challenge, and accompanying this issue is a free copy of the calendar which features the top 12 images. If you are intending to get out and about on a whisky related trip, make sure you take your camera with you and be ready to enter our competition when we call for entries early next year. Having been to Scotland on many occasions, I always find the best time to go and take really good photographs is in either the spring or autumn. The light can be superb but also you can get the most fantastic skies with brilliant cloud formations. I will be visiting Speyside in October for a week where I intend to try and visit as many distilleries as possible. I will, of course, be taking my camera. What we are really looking for is unusual shots of the whisky making process as well as portraits of the men and women who work within the distillery.

Part of my role as Managing Editor of the magazine is to be involved in some of the awards we organise and there are a number which I think well worth mentioning. In September I will be returning to Kentucky to present our Icons of Whisky America results and this will be taking place during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival... an event that I have always wanted to attend.

I am also involved in the World Whiskies Awards where we will soon be calling for entries, and the final results will be announced in March 2016. Any producers reading this, I urge you to enter.

And finally, the art of coopering... We recently covered this in the magazine and I was very disappointed to read that Britain's last Master Cooper, making barrels for the beer industry, is finding it very hard to find a suitable apprentice. When I was in Kentucky earlier this year I was fortunate enough to visit the Brown2Forman cooperage and although highly automated in its process, the guys who chose the staves at the beginning of the process were extremely skilled. I sincerely hope that with all the publicity, Master Cooper Alastair Simms finds a suitable apprentice and that the business thrives. It is so important that these apprentices are found and these skills are retained.