“I think everyone is enriched by trying good things, but people come to whisky when they are ready.” – Isabel Graham-Yooll
Isabel Graham-Yooll is an associate director with Milroy’s of Soho whisky shop on Greek Street in London.
In this Whisky Women interview, she discusses why whisky interests her, what ones first got her into the drink and what her thoughts are on the future of whisky demographics.
How and when did you first get into whisky?
It has been a gradual process over many years. I don’t remember ever not liking whisky.
Do you remember a first whisky you tried that you really loved?
I remember first noticing how different whiskies could be when the Classic Malts Distillers’ Editions were launched. It was a fantastic introduction for me.
Tell me about your role – what are your main responsibilities at the shop and in buying spirits?
I select casks from around the world for the Milroy’s of Soho range.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Without a doubt, it’s the people. And the whisky. The people and the whisky.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career?
I really do love the catalogue of Milroy’s of Soho bottlings that have come together over the years. There’s quite a range now.
Do you feel more women should or could be involved in the whisky industry?
Yes. Why not?
Do you see a change in the demographic which comes to tastings at Milroy’s of Soho?
It’s an interesting question. There is certainly an increased interest in whisky and it seems everyone is becoming more knowledgeable. Also, there are so many more opportunities for everyone to try great whiskies. That said, I don’t think the demographic has changed so much as stretched out a bit further.
What is one of the most exciting whisky finds you’ve made as a buyer?
We bottled a cask from Indian distillery, Amrut, at a time when that sort of thing was still controversial.
Why would you recommend someone who’s never tried a good single malt to give it a go?
I think everyone is enriched by trying good things, but people come to whisky when they are ready. I’m not about to perform an intervention on any alcopop enthusiasts.
What is your favourite memory of whisky drinking?
Trying to put up a tipi in torrential rain. There were five of us. We were drenched; the field was full of cowpats. The best way to keep our clothes dry was not to wear them; we were not entirely naked – we wore plastic bags on our feet. One person ran away in the night, one person was sent home with hypothermia. The rest of us drank Ardbeg Uigeadail from the bottle and felt ennobled