Chris Hoban and Lucas Dynowiak aren’t the first people to dream up a way of blagging free whisky and they won’t be the last. What sets them apart, though, is that their modus operandi has given the world of whisky one of its most entertaining and spikiest information resources.
The Edinburgh Whisky Blog (www.edinburghwhiskyblog.com) is an independent, opinionated and refreshingly frank platform which has steam-rollered its way on to the whisky scene. It can be controversial, but it is never anything less than highly entertaining, not least because it seems to suck in some of the whisky world’s biggest names in to its debates. Best of all, though, it is funny, and maintains the sort of healthy irreverent confidence that surely stems from the fact that it is run by 20 somethings who have not been taught to unreservedly praise the Emperor’s clothes.
Hoban and Dynowiak are both 24 year old Edinburgh residents who first met when working part time at a tourist education centre to help fund their education. They were allowed to taste whisky a couple of times a week and fell in love with it.
“We started extensive research in Edinburgh’s many whisky bars,” says Dynowiak. “We read books, visited distilleries and after a year were well too big for our boots. Something had to be done.”
So it was that the idea for the Edinburgh Whisky Blog was conceived, taking shape after a few drinks at Deacon Brodie’s.
“We decided we needed to show our faces and get our foot in the door,” says Hoban. “Why blogging? We knew we could do it for free and we knew there was a niche for us there, because discussion in the whisky blogging world at the time was overall as flat as a pancake.”
At the heart of the Edinburgh Whisky Blog is a view that a new perspective to whisky is needed, a need to take Scottish whisky away from its traditional groupings and open it to new ideas and attitudes. It’s surely no coincidence that Hoban lists Smoke & Coke among his favourite drinks – Smokehead sponsored the Classic Rock Magazine awards recently, served the drink at the event, and had the likes of Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Slash, ZZ Topp’s Bily Gibson and Queen’s Brian May enjoying a whisky that wasn’t Jack Daniel’s.
The reputation of the Blog has grown fast, with some in the industry embracing it and others taking issue with it. But undoubtedly it’s a force for good, attracting a younger audience to the cause. In recent months events have been organised in Edinburgh and further whisky discovery evenings are planned. The site will be revamped with a new design in 2010, new bloggers are being brought on board and there are plans to maximise the Blog’s presence through a range of new media.
With no budget Dynowiak and Hoban have succeeded in making their mark on the world of whisky, and there’s plenty more to come. They are adamant, though, that whatever happens, the fundamental principles will remain unchanged.
“The best thing about all of this is whisky itself and its charm, power and diversity,” says Dynowiak.
“But the independence is important. We always speak our mind and never accept money or expensive gifts. Done. It’s not hard.”
Name: Lucas Dynowiak
Currently drinking/excited about: Yamazaki from the SMWS, Tomatin 19 from Master of Malt, Caol Ila 10 ‘Unpeated’, Jura Prophecy.
Favourite whiskies: Ardbeg 10, Laphroaig 25 CS, Old Pulteney 30, Four Roses ‘Small Batch’.
Favourite distilleries: Ardbeg, Arran, Springbank, Scapa.
Name: Chris Hoban
Currently drinking/excited about: Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX, Spice Tree, Highland Park 18, Smoke & Coke.
Favourite whiskies: Glenfarclas 30, Smokehead 18, Arran ‘Peacock’, Bowmore 1982 cask 85057 from Duncan Taylor.
Favourite distilleries: Glengoyne, Glenfarclas, Dalwhinnie.