As we move into the autumn here in London, I can’t help but think how quickly time goes. The thing is, on one hand, it’s my favourite season. That time when I can start wearing jumpers and curling up with a book when a moment permits, smoky dram in hand, happy under my Islay Woollen Mill-made blanket. When log fires start to be lit in pubs (yes, even here in London we have lovely pubs with wood burners) and I can go for a crisp afternoon walk feeling the air hitting my lungs more sharply. It’s wonderful but also tinged with a quiet sadness that the year is flying past.
Over here at Miss Whisky HQ it’s been a hectic summer – in fact, while I thought it would be my ‘quiet’ season, it was fairly non-stop apart from a couple of quick holidays.
Which is, of course, a great thing overall. The whisky industry – despite some gloomy predictions over the past couple of years – is still booming with new launches, great announcements and growth. My inbox is constantly pinging with news of a distillery opening, a whisky being released (sometimes, in the case of Ardbeg, literally into the air) or a milestone being reached.
However, the hectic times have also meant I’ve had to make a conscious decision about this site and the time I have to put into writing on it. I love bringing news and notes from the whisky industry, but unfortunately, while the exciting projects I’ve been working on have thrilled my palate and moved my whisky soul, they have also meant I simply have less time to sit down at my desk and put fingers to keys.
And so a revamp of the frequency of posts on here beckons. While I would love to document everything I’m tasting, visiting and attending, I have to be realistic that after nearly four years of running my site, it’s not as viable as it once was. You can now find a back catalogue of over 400 original articles on here (I’ve never republished press releases so the content is mine alone), and I encourage you to search for your favourite whisky themed topic and see what comes up.
But it doesn’t mean I’ll be going silent. Oh no. I intend to continue interviewing the incredible whisky women in this industry and to write about the beautiful distilleries I’ve visited and people I’ve met in the features section when I can, and bring you at least one round-up post of all the whisky happenings and my thoughts on them here in the review section every couple of weeks. I’m also, of course, always around on Twitter, where you can follow me under @themisswhisky.
So, as we move into this new season, just what has been happening?
Of late, I’ve been fascinated by the parallels in the whisky industry. Here we have an age-old sector, brimming with history, lineage and stories, that is also trying hard to figure out how to work in the modern world.
A classic example of this that I recently experienced was during a day out in London: I began the morning trying an unbelievably fresh, elegant and sublime 75-year old Mortlach whisky from Gordon & Macphail‘s Generations collection and I finished the day at the launch of the Ballantine’s Space Glass.
What, you ask, is a Space Glass? In this case, it has been a project developed by Ballantine’s to better understand how one could a) drink whisky in space in style, and b) how to make it taste similar in zero gravity as on earth. It could have been gimmicky but the science and research that went into the design was fascinating, and made me think more about this concept. What really blew my mind, however, was in realising that the 75 year old whisky I had tried that morning came from a time when airplanes were still a thing of danger, and the concept of drinking whisky in space would surely have been seen as crazy. It still kind of is, but the point is the questions are being asked now and that’s a first step.
A few days later, I was sat at home working away with the radio on in the background when on the 2pm news Dr Bill Lumsden‘s voice filtered through. Now, any time a whisky figure features on the radio or TV, I automatically perk up. I call it my ‘whisky sense’. And, again, it was space that was the name of the game. This time, it was around Dr Bill’s findings on Ardbeg’s experiments of sending whisky into space and how the maturation time there differed from that on earth. It’s worthwhile reading about the full results. It is, undoubtedly, a changing time for the whisky industry and I’ve no doubt more exciting things will be looked at in months and years to come.
For now, my eye is on the number of whisky distilleries opening in Ireland. The latest one announced – so far as I’ve kept up with! – is Rademon Estate Distillery (which currently makes Shortcross Gin). They are beginning malt production in County Down, Northern Ireland. They join Boann Distillery in Drogheda – another new opening – as one of the army of Irish whiskey distilleries that are part of an anticipated €1.1bn investment in the space from 2010-2025, according to the Irish Whiskey Association. As a lover of Irish whiskey, I am excited to see such a continued vibrancy return to this space.
And here in London, the whisky season is getting underway. I recently interviewed Ollie Chilton from Speciality Brands – organiser of The Whisky Exchange Show – about this year’s event. I’ll be working on The Balvenie stand and running a wee intro to whisky masterclass, so do come and say hi. After the TWE Show, it’s London Cocktail Week and if you’ll be in the city, I urge you to get a wristband and check it out. Every year it gets bigger and better, with hundreds of bars participating in the activities going on. Later on in the month, you can also find me teed up to talk about all things whisky and water, in my role with Uisge Source, at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London. That’s happening on the 20th October so if you fancy a night of great drams and interesting analysis, do pick up a ticket.
Most of all, I hope you get in touch on here, Twitter or the Miss Whisky Facebook Page to tell me what whisky you’re enjoying and what things you’ve come across in this great industry. It’s a pleasure getting to share my tales with the Water of Life with all of you, and I look forward to continuing to do so – albeit on a slightly scaled back basis!