“There is so much human history in whisky, and so many people involved in crafting every expression. There are so many things to learn and appreciate about what goes into whisky, not just the dram itself. It’s what’s behind the spirit that makes it so truly special, and you could spend your life learning about it.” – Cat Spencer
Cat Spencer is the head of marketing at the award winning online drinks retailer Master of Malt.
Below, she chats about why she loves whisky, the fact she hated it in previous years and how she hopes to see more women featured in the world of whisky!
When did you first start drinking whisky?
March 3, 2010 – I attended my first whisky master class at Albannach. It was my first foray into whisky appreciation. Before that, I could absolutely not stand the stuff. I drank whisky sours my first year at university, but that was as far as I’d go. I’d always been much more of a gin person when it came to spirits.
What dram changed you into a whisky drinker?
Balvenie 21. I never knew whisky could have such depth and character, that it could take you on a sensory journey and evoke so many memories.
What do you like most about whisky?
The people. This may sound like I’m dodging the question, but actually whisky brings people together, and those who are curious about it tend to have a curiosity for other things: music, food, art, culture, conversation, etc. Whisky is best enjoyed in the company of others and is always a great conversation starter.
What do you enjoy most about working in the industry?
Again: the people. I’ve found that people who work or are involved within the industry have a propensity for sharing, whether it be knowledge, stories, or whisky. They tend to be community oriented and enjoy connecting people with each other. I’ve always found it to be very friendly and inviting.
Why would you encourage someone to start drinking whisky?
There is so much human history in whisky, and so many people involved in crafting every expression. There are so many things to learn and appreciate about what goes into whisky, not just the dram itself. It’s what’s behind the spirit that makes it so truly special, and you could spend your life learning about it. Also, there is a whisky for everyone; you just have to keep trying until you find it (and trying is half the fun!). Anyone can become a convert—and I am more than happy to proselytize.
Do you feel more women should or could be involved in the industry?
Absolutely. There are some very amazing and talented women with high-profile positions within the industry, and the crowds at most tastings I’ve been to in the past year have been made up of 30-40% women. However, I keep reading stories about the “world’s-first” women’s whisky tasting—as if women have not been drinking whisky all this time! Perhaps it’s more perception than anything else, or perpetuated by the media. The hospitality and drinks industries tend to be quite male dominated, and I believe the inclusion of women is essential to expand the audience of whisky drinkers to include more women.
Where is your favourite place to drink whisky?
It’s not where so much as with whom. Good chat, good whisky, good night!
What food would you pair with whisky?
Cheese! Not just because if I had my druthers, I would have a block of cheese for dinner every night. The right cheese paired with the right whisky can create something new and unexpected while bringing out the best qualities in both. (Like a perfect marriage.)
If you could be one whisky – or have one to represent your life right now – what would it be?
Whatever is open, whatever is easy, whatever is in my glass. Seize opportunity, work with what you have, and learn to appreciate both.
Winter’s coming: do you have a favourite for this time of year?
Not yet—this is only my second winter of drinking whisky!