People who work in the whisky industry are generally very proud of what they do. From the master distillers to master blenders, brand ambassadors and sales teams, everyone employed in this business tends to be in it because they love the spirit.
But one of the proudest people I have met of late has to be Cesar Da Silva, who heads up the bar at The Capital hotel in Knightsbridge, which offers a mixture of between 60-70 rare old bottlings and standard whiskies to its guests. For the past 17 years, Cesar has been living and breathing whisky and – during a recent interview – he showed no signs of changing that trajectory.
Cesar is well known within the whisky industry for being the youngest ever person to be initiated as a Keeper of the Quaich – the society that recognises those individuals who are dedicated to promoting the heritage and quality of Scotch. When we met at the bar, the badge he received in honour of it was clearly displayed on his jacket lapel.
“For whisky and the trade, it is my proudest achievement. When I got the notice, I did not have words to say. I was really proud but I was also very respectful of the industry inviting me,” he said, saying this honour even beat winning the Campari Bartender of the Year award in 2004.
I visited The Capital to speak to Cesar because it was one of those places I’d not come across very frequently during my whisky journey. I was, therefore, keen to learn about the man behind the bar.
Cesar’s story begins nearly 20 years ago, when he first came to London as a 17-year old in 1996, after leaving his home [...]
As many whisky lovers may know, the growth of drams from places other than Scotland, the USA and Ireland is ever increasing.
What does this mean?
Well, for me, it equates to an even greater pool of potentially great drams to pick from – no bad thing. It also means that even if I’ve attended a few tastings with world whiskies, there are always new options that I come across.
The most recent of these events was put on by whisky writer Ian Buxton at The Whisky Exchange near London Bridge.
I brought along one of my newest converts to whisky – Miss Andrea – to help me out in tasting drams from as far afield as Taiwan along with a group of other whisky lovers, such as Billy Abbott (ie: @cowfish).
We started the night on the English Whisky Company’s Chapter 6 release. This 46% whisky was the first official release from its St George’s distillery in Norfolk, and came onto store shelves in 2010. It is a light-straw coloured dram, with notes of marzipan, lemon, vanilla, pink peppercorns, paint and straw on the nose. The palate was slightly bolder, with spring, floral flavours to start and a peppery vanilla burst midway through the sip. Notes of strawberries dipped in caramel also came through.
Our taste buds next headed more than 4,200 miles westwards to Bardstown, Kentucky and the Heaven Hill distillery to try some Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey. Ian told us he enjoys this dram because of its value for money – coming in at around £22, it is a very cost-effective bottle. Now, I’m not a massive fan of rye – the bread or the drams made from it. But this was an intriguing whiskey regardless with [...]