Inside the Bottle: If You Ask Me…
A little while back I was asked if I would like to take part in a feature, unfortunately this didn’t go ahead as things don’t always go to plan… however, I have been thinking about those questions and my answers recently, so I got in touch and asked if I could share what I had written. Many thanks to Dominic Roskrow for the questions and allowing me to post them here now…
These were from a while ago, but my thoughts and responses remain as they were given, though some might differ if I were asked them again today...
So here goes:
Please tell me about yourself; age, background, sort of person you are:
I’m Sarah, I’m 47 years young and I have lived in the North East of Scotland since 1981. Prior to that I lived in the North East of England in a smallish village.
What sort of person am I? Hmm, I’m the sort who wears her heart on her sleeve and will do anything I can to help people. I’m a little bit shy, but I come out of my shell in the right company…and I do love to talk. I’ve got a daft sense of humour and the innate ability to make the most innocent comment sound iffy… but it’s just me being me.
The past few years I’ve changed a lot, they’ve given me a certain confidence and this in turn has fuelled a feeling of wanderlust and a thirst for change…make of that what you will!!
How did you discover whisky? Please tell me about your personal journey:
I guess I discovered whisky or was aware of whisky as it was something I was familiar with growing up. My late father was a fan of Glenfiddich. My mum made homemade wine, so even from a young age I was aware of alcohol. I’d sometimes be given a little elderberry wine with lemonade as a treat.
My first distillery visit was to Highland Park on Orkney in 1993 I think. In my early working days we’d head out and have a beer and Jack Daniels…but both of those failed to hold my interest.
Then in my thirties, I basically stopped drinking for six years, out of choice I hasten to add… early starts meant there was no point in pushing the extra glass of wine and risking being over the limit the next day. Then when I decided to start drinking alcohol again it happened to be whisky, it was a kind of exploration to see what was out there… Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and also Clynelish and Jura.
I was a massive fan of Jura… eagerly awaiting the latest release and buying the special bottlings. And then drinking them… though that’s changing too. My tastes in whisky have changed too, and I like that. I love that the journey I’m on has opened my heart to new joys…
I’ve gone from whisky onlooker to a fan who enjoys trying and teasing myself with new aromas, flavours and experiences. I’m fortunate to have a myriad distilleries on my doorstep too, and count myself as lucky in that respect.
And what inspired you to write about it?
There are some blogs that I read and they capture me with their words… in the way they engage you, they almost have you sat imagining being there with the whisky in your hand.
Yet a Welsh man said “go for it” and well I did. I wanted to share my thoughts and moments.
Please tell me about your website/blog, what it covers and what you are setting out to achieve from it?
My blog is ilovewhisky.blog (you might notice a common theme…iheartwhisky too) and it’s a place for me to express myself and share my distillery visits, tastings, festival visits and my little whisky fudge business.
It’s given me a place to express myself…an escape, a place where people can visit and read and maybe find something they’re looking for. It’s a reference point for me on a personal level too. My thoughts and feelings are entwined in the words, memories and moments sit alongside recollections of emotions certain whiskies gave me and experiences. In my “Inside the Bottle” blogs there are stories which echo my hopes and dreams and some of the feedback I have received has really touched me.
I guess I’m like everyone else in that we want to have people use our blogs as a reference point…a base of knowledge (not mine I’m sure, but others exist.)
If one or two people get me, or my words resonate with them, then I am happy.
And I use it to promote and sell iheartwhisky fudge too.
So I will carry on.
How have you engaged with the world of whisky – through social media, distillery visits, whisky festivals?
I’ve become more and more involved with the world of whisky since maybe 2011 or so…? I think 2016 was the turning point for me though. Social media has been quite pivotal in my journey and also whisky festivals… I kind of started with “oh flipping heck I’m here by myself…yikes!!” to “flipping heck, what a journey..”
Are there people who have inspired you, or given you great advice, or supported and helped you?
There are a few. And I’m happy to call them friends too. Lucky me.
Sorren (@ocdwhisky / ocdwhisky.com) has given me so much help…and he has a huge amount of passion and knowledge about whisky. He has also guided me along my journey.. with advice, support, humour and friendship. He has stood beside me as a friend, and has been there for me.
Mr. Boutique-y Whisky, aka Dave Worthington has been my “go to” whisky guru for a few years and I always held him in high regard. I actually had the pleasure of meeting him at my first whisky festival, which was at York in 2016. His passion for whisky is quite infectious!
There are a couple of others too, Tom Thomson and Jon Webb. Lovely chaps who have given valuable support and guidance, and friendship and humour.
Tom has also been a touchstone for advice and support and is a good friend too. It’s nice to catch up with him when I can. Jon is responsible for getting me to spread my wings and get myself to Dramboree last year, my shyness was holding me back, but with his encouragement I’ve been trying some new things with his advice and knowledge.
On the whole the majority of the people I have met have been absolutely lovely, they freely give of themselves when it comes to discussing and sharing their love of whisky.
What whiskies/whiskeys do you particularly like and do you have favourites?
Mmm I think some of this depends on the mood I’m in, how I’m feeling or if I want to go back to a certain time and reminisce… but, there’s always a but isn’t there.
I’ve really been enjoying some lovely bottles from That Boutique-y Whisky Company recently, I have the 42 year old Invergordon (batch 15) this is a single grain whisky, a delicious dram. There’s caramel and sticky toffee. There’s a little wood too. The palate is smooth but big! Vanilla and mocha and it’s both sweet and full and reassuringly good. I have kind of moved away from smoky and peated whiskies and am most definitely getting into sherry finished and bourbon cask finishes. My favourite? Yes I have one and I’m on my third and last bottle…and if I can find another…I’ll do my best to lay my hands on it. This is the Glenrothes 1997 from independent bottlers Claxton’s, it’s a rather delicious 19 year old. It just fills me with happy thoughts and hits the spot perfectly.
Why has whisky become so popular in recent years, particularly among women and younger drinkers?
I’m not sure. Maybe it’s become more acceptable to try whiskies? I know that in my working life there are very few who actually enjoy a dram, most are beer drinkers.
I think the media plays a big part in attracting people and encouraging them to give it a go… And we are all aware of certain brands that we perhaps wouldn’t drink ourselves, but it seems to be attracting a more diverse audience.
About women enjoying whisky, well I guess some of us have done so for years. Yet its become the “in thing” to label or highlight certain sectors/groups/demographics, my personal thought is that if you enjoy it, drink it, tell others (if you so desire) and just get on with it.
Do you see any developing trends in whisky?
Erm not so sure how to answer this…
Do you have a bucket list of places to and distilleries to visit, people to meet etc.?
My bucket list…well I definitely want to visit The Balvenie distillery and am hoping this will happen shortly, and to get over to Islay and spend some time there. I’ve got a few in Scotland I still wish to visit. And I’m sure I’ll get there. Sounds daft, but I’m more than happy to meet any whisky loving people. Some have said hello in the past without introducing themselves which I found utterly odd… but as they say “there’s nowt as queer as folk”. I have always viewed my whisky life as a journey, and as long as I keep moving forward while enjoying it, then that’s what matters most.
Finally, what do you think the future for the world of whisky?
I see more automation creeping in, and maybe it’s because I’m a soppy old romantic at heart, but I think it would be a sad sight to see distilleries completely moving away from wooden components to stainless steel, and machines replacing the men and women who know the idiosyncrasies of the distillery… I’m also happy to see more distilleries opening, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future. Then there are those that are expanding too, it can only be a positive thing…and as long as prices remain affordable, I’ll keep buying and keep enjoying the water of life.
Thanks again to Dom for allowing me to publish the questions he had asked me.