I love how the internet brings whisky fans together. From reading on other blogs about the latest whiskies and trends, to chatting away with people around the globe about this fair drink through the social media worlds of Twitter and Facebook, the internet is making whisky more and more popular.
A great example of this was a recent tweet tasting I took part in. During the tasting – which involved numerous bloggers and whisky commentators tasting Old Ballantruan whiskies in various parts of the globe and discussing it on Twitter – the hashtag used (#OB10TT) became one of the top things trending on Twitter in the UK. Not only were we talking about great whisky but we were talking about it loudly enough for Twitter to hear!
Now, if you’d asked me a year ago if I’d be taking part in any tweet tastings anytime soon, I’d probably have looked at you a bit oddly – or done the equivalent of looking at you oddly through a smily-face symbol online. But Steve Rush – founder of The Whisky Wire – has really been pushing these events over the past year and they have no sign of stopping any time soon. Since September last year when he got Compass Box on board to try out the first one, through to tastings with Glenfiddich, Cutty Sark, Highland Park and many others, his online tastings are bringing people together in swarms.
The latest one was the Old Ballantruan – which I was very excited about as I’d never tasted it before. Produced by Tomintoul distillery in the Highlands, we tried the new 10 year old and the company’s standard no age statement bottling and were joined by the company’s master distiller, Robert Fleming.
What’s interesting about tweet tastings is that everyone participating bounces ideas off of each other so when you can’t quite identify that taste or smell coming through on the dram, another person’s suggestion might help solve that conundrum.
On the night, we started with the no age statement whisky. This baby was big, brash and bold all the way through.
On first nosing I found it to have hints of caramel popcorn and fresh grilled fish by the seaside like those lovely sandwiches from street stalls in Istanbul. Steve got “Beach bbq fuelled by boxes of honied shredded wheat” while John Pitts (ie: @TWSYork) picked up “some nice sweet notes on the nose , including a confectionery note & a barley-grist quality. Musty leaves & chillis in brine, too”. The palate was much more explosive than I was expecting. I got notes of asparagas, dusty carpet, hand sanitiser and rubbery oranges. It was quite overwhelming but enjoyable nonetheless.
The second whisky – the new 10 year old – was my preferred dram of the night. On first nosing, I found it to be delicate with hints of marzipan, shortbread and spring flowers. After a conversation between @Galg (founder of Whisky Israel) we also nosed out some lemon peels. Meanwhile, Mark (@Fr1day) from the Whisky Tasting Fellowship said he picked up “custard, cinnamon, cocoa powder & shortbread crust”. On the palate, I identified white grape juice, buttered toast, cardboard from cereal boxes and a wisp of sweet, BBQ smoke. Joe Ellis (@the_josephellis) commented: “A very creamy mouth feel. Like someone has taken a lemon cheesecake, held it over a peat fire for 10 minutes and given it to you!” Dave Worthington (@WhiskyDiscovery) agreed, saying: “Wow, really creamy on the palate, the lemon cheesecake is right there, digestive biscuits and all. Light pepper kick near the end.” It was incredibly gentle for a 50%ABV whisky – dangerously drinkable.
All in all, it was a successful night – people from various parts of the world discussed great drams from the comfort of their own homes and the social aspect of whisky drinking was amplified in an online space. I can’t wait to see what else comes from these tweet tastings – long may they continue.