In this day and age of fast-paced living, where we rarely tune out, where mobile phones mean mobile work stations and computers seldom get set to sleep, it’s easy to get caught up in everything and forget to stop and admit things have become too hectic.
For whisky writer Dominic Roskrow, this has been very much the state of play for the past two years.
Roskrow is a well-known figure in the whisky world for good or bad. From writing World Whisky Review and posts for The W Club and Whisky Advocate, to editing Whiskeria, running True Spirit, penning numerous books and starting the Craft Distillers’ Alliance (CDA), it seems he barely ever sits still.
In fact, during a recent interview to discuss life, whisky, taking breaks, new directions, mental states and his rather big decision to give up most of his freelance writing work, he almost never paused for breath. A whirlwind, if there ever was one.
But despite the energy, there is an alternate downside. For those of you that follow Roskrow on Twitter, you may have seen his comments about hypomania, for which he has recently been diagnosed. He is fully open in talking about it, however, and it was a theme that came up many times during our recent discussion. His reasoning? The more he talks about it, the more other people in the industry who may have suffered from similar issues will feel comfortable finding help themselves.
The impetus for our interview was for him to announce to me changes he is making to his work that – at first – seemed to indicate would mean he was cutting back. For instance, he will no longer run True Spirit or write World Whisky Review (the last issue will go out 10 June). While he will continue to edit Whiskeria for The Whisky Shop, he is cutting back on contributing to focus on being its editor. But he will keep the hat of director of the CDA and is launching a craft gin competition to go alongside the annual Wizards of Whisky (which honours world whiskies). Oh, and he’s continuing to write for Whisky Advocate and starting a music and whisky festival called Tribe, the first installment of which will be on the 9 November in Leicester and feature the Toy Hearts.
When I pointed out that none of this indicates a desire to slow down, Roskrow paused for a few short seconds, then explained his mindset.
“I want to focus on the things that are exciting going forward. I need to do things because I have quite a manic personality. But I made the mistake of self-medicating with alcohol and I hurt people, and I feel really bad about that. I will never slow down, but I can use that energy in a more positive way,” he said.
To bring everything together, he is launching worldwhisky.co.uk, a new site which will have umbrella branches of the various projects in one place.
When I questioned whether putting everything in one place indicates a desire for more control over work, he countered it by saying the intention of the site is to bring in more people to create further discussion about the world of whisky.
“I want to delegate more. I want to share things and involve people. I want to talk to people who are worth talking to. I have realised that everything is moving forward, that I can’t be blogging, I can’t be keeping up with everyone in London, but I want to still celebrate all the characters of the industry and the positives of Scotch,” he added.
By the end of our conversation it was clear that Roskrow wants to focus on the positive going forward and to show he is aware of the need to change things after his diagnosis.
“It’s been a tough two years. It’s cost me a lot and I was almost dead. I am proud of all of the world whisky stuff but I have realised I have not done justice to the people who have supported me and been there for me. This is about me saying, ‘I get it, I’m listening.’ I feel like I’ve been given a second chance and I’m very excited about everything going forward,” he concluded.
The CDA‘s Craft Gin competition will take place on the 24 June and entries are now being accepted. The first Tribe event takes place in Leicester on the 9 November at the Musician pub; details to follow soon.