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Welcome to the WhiskyReviews.net Blog
I got into whisky by accident. I was attending a funeral in the highlands and a dram of 12-year-old Highland Park was being handed out to attendees of the wake. Not wanting to appear rude, I took one and quickly made my way to a quiet corner to sip timidly upon the glass and hope that no-one saw me retch.
Within a month of that sip there were four or five bottles of malt in my cupboard at home and from there it snowballed. I scoured book shops for whisky volumes and discovered dozens of bloggers and vloggers who shouted passionately into the void, covering every conceivable facet of the industry. I attended as many whisky tastings as time, money and my liver would allow, soaking up as much data as people were willing to send my way. In 2014 I took a course, led by renowned writer John Lamond. Two years later I took the ‘Whisky Ambassador‘ course. It was apparent that what was once a hobby, had become something of an obsession.
I always enjoyed writing and felt like I understood it from a fairly young age. English was the only subject at school that I seemed able to pass without putting any real effort in (and effort was quite low in my list of priorities back then) but the possibility of ever doing anything with it had never really entered my head. My late teens and twenties were mostly spent in a dazed and confused state in the Glasgow club scene with all my resources plowed into that and my passion for DJ-ing.
When I moved into my thirties however, the desire to write returned. I tried to write about club culture but to be honest, my enthusiasm for the subject had started to wane and it came to nothing. Then at 34 I found out my wife was pregnant and did what any man would do: I shit myself. I tried to address my fears by writing about my impending fatherhood but again, the subject never stuck.
Then, roughly two weeks before my daughter was due, I visited Auchentoshan and it struck me that I could write about whisky. Who knows why it hadn’t occurred to me before but I started writing and four years later I’m still going.
The Mission Statement
When I was new to the world of whisky I found it a little disheartening to frequently hear countless online reviewers lament how good the spirit used to be. Many of those critics have more knowledge and experience in their finger than I could amass in a lifetime but I still felt I could offer something different.
I felt I could produce a blog that reflected the enthusiasm of those early days of a new hobby. A blog that would encourage newbies to delve deeper, rather than shaming them for not knowing enough. A blog that kept the cynicism and outrage to a minimum in order to support the reader and champion Scotch whisky. That’s not to say I’m all about blind optimism. If there’s something about a whisky I don’t like, I will say so (price in particular has become worthy of some contempt lately) but I also try to take everything in context and keep any criticism constructive and balanced.
If you want to encourage people to give whisky a try, you have to consider what might be holding them back. To me it seemed there were two main aspects that I wanted to address. First is price. Whisky is expensive. There’s no way around that BUT great value can still be found. I wanted to highlight the diversity that’s out there at a decent price point.
The second thing I think people find off-putting is the pretentiousness that seems to come with whisky. Contrary to popular belief, there is no dress code for whisky events. Tweed and flat caps are not mandatory. Victorian facial hair is not essential. The whisky is just as suitable a drink for women as it is for men and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixing it, putting it in cocktails or drinking it over ice. There is also no need whatsoever to take part in self-indulgent one-upmanship where ridiculous tasting notes are concerned.
That is not to say tasting notes aren’t useful. They are a handy tool for describing a spirit to the reader but I didn’t want them to form the backbone of my reviews. Instead, I wanted the review to act as a jumping off point to discuss the fascinating story of Scotch whisky and the people and places that make it. The written equivalent, if you will, of sharing a dram and a chat in a cosy bar.
Therefore, my reviews tend to focus on the more affordable side of whisky with the vast majority falling around the £40 – £60 price bracket.
I hope no-one takes this introduction as a criticism of other bloggers for their way of doing things. I’m not suggesting that my way is right and there’s is wrong, only that I felt there was room for a different approach. In the end, I just hope that the joy whisky brings me comes through in my writing and that it feeds the same joy in you, the reader.
Thanks for being here.