A MEETING OF two great minds – that is the apt description being given to one of the most anticipated events taking place in Moray this weekend.
Two of the most well respected men in the Whisky industry have been brought together by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – the Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester and renowned whisky expert David Broom.
The pair will host a talk and tasting at which their audience will be able to sample drams from casks laid down as far back as 1959.
Dave has a long history in the whisky industry, spanning back to a time when, as a student, he worked on the Black & White bottling line. He’s worked behind bars, on the counter in spirit shops and even an Australian vineyard. He has written no less than 12 books on whisky, penned innumerable columns for a host of international publications and regularly hosts tasting events.
“Every whisky has its own story and we’ve had great fun choosing the whisky that we will taste and share at this event – but in terms of planning, that’s as far as it goes,” Dave said.
He continued: “Anything could – and probably will – happen. You can do a tasting in a very formulised way, where you reach a conclusion in a slow and steady fashion, and that’s a very valid approach to some tastings.
“But for one such as this we didn’t want to over-prepare for fear that we might lose a degree of spontaneity. We want there to be unpredictable elements, and for the whisky to dictate how we get from point A to point B.”
Until his appointment as master distiller of The Glenlivet four years ago, Alan has worked at many distilleries during his long career, almost all on Speyside.
He said: “The Festival has really worked to raise the profile of Scotch whisky over the years. People can come to the area and see that whisky plays a very important role in communities – and to meet the folk who actually make it on their own doorstep is an added bonus.
“I’ve done a lot of different events with Dave over the years – on top of mountains and on the edge of lochs – so this will be something a bit more laid back than what we are used to and we’re looking forward to sharing the different cask styles.
“I really enjoy taking part in events like this because it means I get to meet with and talk to whisky drinkers – the people who go out and buy The Glenlivet.
“I’ll be sharing stories from my own career, but also about the history and heritage of distilling and how we have seen this fantastic evolution over the past 50 years that has led to an increased variety within each distillery’s range.
“We’re delighted to be able to share with the audience drams from every decade since the 1950s.”
Dave, meanwhile, is also the man behind scotchwhisky.com – a website launched last year that has quickly become a bible to the trade and a fantastic source of education and entertainment to whisky lovers around the globe.
He said: “I never turn down an opportunity to do an event with Alan because the man knows a ridiculous amount of things about whisky. I am there because I’m regarded as the expert, but the reality is that I will be learning just as much as everyone else in the room.
“Alan never ceases to amaze me with his stories, which are as enlightening as they are entertaining. I think events like this are proof, to me at least, that you can never actually stop learning when it comes to whisky.”