Although respecting tradition sits at its very core, the new world of whisky is all about pushing boundaries and finding a different way. Inclusion and diversity are part of this new world and we wanted to do a blog series to capture the stories of the diverse range of people that are now enjoying this marvellous malt.
Gone are the days when whisky was exclusively enjoyed by the upper echelons of society, sitting in high-backed leather armchairs in smoky rooms of gentleman only clubs. Although everyone is welcome, outdated believes and misconceptions are not, especially as the industry is working hard to encourage a wider audience to discover whisky, with new distilleries, special releases, new and classic whisky cocktails, along with a plethora of serving suggestions and pairing options.
To start off this series, we wanted to focus on a group that is leading the way in the new world. Women are at the forefront, contributing to some of the newest and most innovative distilleries in the world; Distillery Owners, Whiskymaker’s, Master Blenders, Chief Nose Officers, Brand Ambassadors, Influencers, Content Creators and whisky lovers. We are lucky enough to have four short stories from women that capture the essence of this new world...
The Women of Whisky
“I hated whisky the first time...”
Hayley (@redwhiskygirl) first tried whisky at the Edinburgh Whisky Exchange back in 2016 and hated it. Fast forward to 2018, when an old friend reintroduced her to whisky with a bottle of Glenfiddich 15 Solero Cask (a pretty special whisky) and she got the bug. From then on, she started trying whisky at every opportunity.
In the beginning, Hayley definitely believed that whisky should only be drunk neat, but thankfully the narrative has changed and she is now confident to ask for a whisky anyway she wants; combining it with water and ice to get a greater understanding of flavours and the depth of this wonderful spirit. However, there are only a few whiskies she would consider mixing, like Jameson with Ginger Ale.
It may sound terrible, but being a lonely expat, Hayley considers whisky to be her saviour, especially through the Lockdowns in recent times. She has found an online community and built many friendships with people who have shared views and a love of whisky. “It means everything to me as I have new friends all over the world and I look forward to sharing a dram with them...”
“Whisky is about friendship & Sharing knowledge”
Tee (@whisky.tee) first tried whisky back in 2015, when travelling around Scotland. A chance encounter, saw her join a tour in Aberdeenshire that included a tasting of three Glendronach drams. Tee was in awe of the rich flavours and the idea that she was drinking something pretty special, steeped in history and surrounded by interesting stories.
Whisky holds memories because Tee not only enjoys drinking whisky, she also buys and collects whisky like some people buy fridge magnets. A lot of the bottles in her collection have been bought while visiting a distillery or have been gifted by friends and family. They are displayed like works of art and it’s definitely a passion that continues to grow. Since joining Instagram, Tee feels that whisky is about friendship and sharing knowledge, interests and great drams.
“I have made so many friends and have had the opportunity to try different drams I may not have otherwise tried… It’s a real journey!”
When asked to pick an absolute favourite, Tee found it hard to pin it down to just one dram, as it changes with her mood, the weather and even the kind of day she has had. “… my favourite would have to be the dram that started me on this obsession...The Glendronach 18yr Allardice (2015 bottle) followed by anything from Fettercairn. I’m hoping one day I’ll get to try their 40 year as its on my bucket list.” For anyone in the know, these are some pretty special whiskies, but for those on a smaller budget she would recommend the Balvenie 14yr Caribbean cask, as it is such great value and super tasty! Although Tee is a big fan of whisky cocktails, she loves her whisky neat, definitely no ice as it suppresses your taste buds and you lose some of the flavours and depth, but maybe a drop of water if the whisky has a higher ABV.
“I had no idea that whisky could taste like this …”
Nicky’s (@mrsnewdramdrinker) early experiences of whisky are drinking it with coke whilst listening to 80’s rock music. However, her whisky journey started when her partner decided to start the YouTube channel New Dram Drinker. Suddenly, Whisky became ‘the other woman’ in their marriage and Nicky was not happy with the amount of time her husband was spending with his new mistress! Intrigued and a little jealous, she asked to be part of New Dram Drinker (which her partner actually loved the idea of). However there was one, big problem…”I didn’t like whisky!”
Nicky spent the next few months on a self-impossed, intensive whisky Induction, drinking whisky in cocktails, trying to enjoy it whilst learning about regions, styles & eventually tasting notes. “I’m not going to lie, it was tough!” However, a dram of Glenglassaugh PX was her first
experience of actually enjoying a whisky, being blown away by how sweet and delicious it was – “I had no idea that whisky could taste like this.” From then on, Nicky was sold! Together with her husband, she is continually trying and enjoying whiskies with different tastes, but only just starting to try peated whiskies… “My favourite style at the moment is a sweet and smoky whisky with a hint of peat. I still love to start my evening with a cocktail, but I no longer need to top whiskies up with soda water!”
Nicky is now looking forward to what the next year will bring as they can arrange to meet up in person with many of the people they have met through social media during lockdown… “I have loved the virtual chats as we have connected with whisky people from across the globe - it was the silver lining that came from the global pandemic.”
“Whisky wasn’t really my cup of tea...”
Five years ago, if you asked Ursula (@ursulasimone) how she felt about whisky she probably would have told you that it wasn’t really her cup of tea. “To me it had always conjured up images of great authors like Hemmingway, Melville and Fitzgerald sitting behind their typewriters, whisky in hand.” While these do happen to be some of her favourite authors, their choice of drink did not particularly resonate with a young woman in her twenties. Unfortunately, this resulted in a premature departure from the world of whisky before her journey had even begun.
It wasn’t until a little later on that she started appreciating how to enjoy whisky, which led to a rethinking of the image that so readily came to mind. After taking the time to learn about its rich history and complex flavours, Ursula fell in love. She realised whisky was in fact not a
relic to be tied to the generations of the past, but rather an experience to be shared with and enjoyed by everyone. “These days I take great pleasure in settling down under a warm blanket, with a good book and the perfect dram.”
Pushed as to her ‘perfect dram’ Ursula replied that it’s probably Johnnie Walker Green, although since joining The Whisky Nest, Sailor’s Home The Journey is definitely up there. “I tend to drink my whisky neat, although I really like an Old Fashioned as well.”