Shared passions are a great foundation for any long lasting relationship, and there is a growing trend of this passion being whisky! Two individuals going on a journey of discovery together, to explore their own likes and dislikes, sharing their views and trying to find the types of whisky they like and the ways they want to enjoy them. To celebrate some of these couples who are sharing this journey of exploration in to the world of whisky, we have shared some of their stories...
Jim & Josie - A whisky geek and a nose for whisky...
They have been together for almost 10 years now, but Jim had just started getting interested in Whisky just before they met. Jim's first step in to the world of whisky was at a wedding, where he got chatting with the father of the bride and was given a Lagavulin 16, which is a very bold first dram, but Jim actually loved it! Previous to this, he had tried some more mainstream Bourbon style drinks like JD, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Woodford reserve but generally drank them with Ice or coke (don't judge him). After the Lagavulin experience, he got a bottle for himself and then went to the Whisky shop in Brighton, his local at the time, and was recommended a Ledaig 10, which he also loved! Not long after they started dating, Josie got Jim a little selection of drams from a well-known retailer and they set about tasting them together. There was a Hakushu Bourbon cask that
they both really liked. Josie hadn't really tried much whisky before this, but was instantly into it. Not long after that she got Jim a whole bottle of the Hakushu as a birthday gift, which didn't last long! Jim had also started buying bottles more regularly, with some notable purchases including Glenfarclas, Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila. However, he was starting to buy more than they could drink and so his 'Whisky Stash' started to grow!
Then they became regulars at a local whisky tasting run by a friend of a friend in Brighton and the world of whisky really started to open up to them and they both started to dial in the kind of whisky they liked the most. In terms of an epiphany dram (the dram that provides the ‘aha’ moment, when you discover whisky and realise it is something you like and want to explore more), for Josie it was a Port Charlotte 10 as she really loves peated whisky, whilst for Jim it was Springbank 15, which captured his taste for Campbeltown whiskies, back in the days when Springbank was easy to get hold of!
Nowadays, Jim and Josie enjoy a dram at home once or twice a week, and Josie has a really good nose and likes to try and guess what kind of cask each whisky has been aged in. She's not as nerdy about the whole thing as Jim, but definitely has a better nose than he does, which she clearly demonstrated on a trip to Edinburgh a few years ago, where she scored 15 out of 16 in a nosing test at a Masterclass Tasting at the Scotch Whisky Experience, near the Castle.
Current Favourites for them follow suit, with Jim enjoying Campbeltown and Deanston whiskies, with a real interest in Port Cask Whiskies. For Josie being a Peat fan, Octomore is probably her current favourite. With nosing and tasting a lot of whiskies they obviously like them neat or with a drop of water, but occasionally enjoy a Whisky and Ginger Beer or if they go somewhere fancy, they will definitely indulge in an old fashioned!.
Jim is also the co-founder of the York Whisky Club (@yorkwhiskyclub) that organises monthly tastings, providing members with 6 different whiskies each time, from distillery exclusives, special releases and limited editions from both the old and new world of whiskies. They have also arranged the occasional food pairings that have included Cheese and Chocolate (not at the same time!) and they also organised a Micro Whisky Festival in December.
Cheers Jim & Josie
Ian & Helen - "Finding ‘Whisky Friends’ is so easy now"
Their whisky epiphany came during their first year of marriage, back in 1989. Whilst on a trip to Orkney with friends, Helen ordered a ‘Peedie Hamper’ of local produce from a shop in Kirkwall. The weekend after it arrived they shared the Orkney cheese, oatcakes and a half bottle of Highland Park 12. After a few sips they both exclaimed “I didn’t know whisky could taste this good”, that was the start. Very soon they were working their way through the newly launched Allied
Distillers (now Diageo) Classic Malts Series at their local pub. Cragganmore 12 became a favourite and Helen was partial to Dalwhinnie 12. The last of the set they tried was a Lagavulin 16, in a time when peated whisky didn’t have the popularity it has today and it came as a bit of a shock to them both. To this day Helen won’t drink strongly peated whisky, but even though his initial comment was 'cough mixture' to this style of dram, Ian has since acquired the taste and enjoys peated whiskies. Other early favourites for them both included Balvenie, Old Pultney and Macallan. Obviously, after more than 30 years their tastes have changed and they rarely buy those early whiskies now, in some cases because the whisky has declined, but also because there is much greater variety today, and their palates have become more sophisticated as well. Today, Ian’s default style is a robust spicy, non-peated highland, island or Campbeltown, and favourites include Deanston, GlenScotia, Bunnahabhain, Arran and Glenturret. Occasionally, he enjoys a peated dram, generally one of the slightly softer varieties such as Caol Ila, Ledaig or Highland Park Valknut. Helen’s default would be a sherried Speyside like Tamdhu, Aberlour A’Bunadh or Douglas Laing’s Scallywag. More recently, they have also enjoyed exploring ‘non Scotch’ whiskies; in particular Irish pot still and small batch whiskeys, and new world whiskies including The Cotswolds and The Lakes from England, Starward from Australia and Kyro from Finland.
One of the frustrations for many years was trying to find like minded people to share their passion for whisky, which apart from Ian's brother and a handful of close friends, was a struggle. Of course, nowadays that’s all changed, particularly in the last 10 years, with a boom in interest and the advent of social media. In 2012, they discovered Youtube whisky reviews, which was the key to a huge online community of enthusiasts and Ian regularly engages with the livestreams. In 2022, Ian was a founder member of the York Whisky Club which led on to their membership of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and a subscription to The Whisky Nest!
Keeping a passion for whisky in the family, they’ve passed the baton to the next generation, with their eldest son and his fiancee both gradually becoming whisky enthusiasts too, culminating in a family outing to the York Whisky Festival in November 2022.
Slainte, Ian & Helen
Sarah & Kristopher - On a mission to try the very best whiskies
Sarah (@sourcing_cardrona_sarah) is not only a keen whisky drinker, but also works for @cardronadistillery as a Territory Manager in the North of the UK, so having a partner that also enjoys a dram is a must! Luckily, she is with Kristopher, who shares her passion for whisky and although their whisky stories differ, the two of them enjoy exploring the world of whisky together.
The first whisky experiences for them both split the old world; with Sarah having a shot of Jameson's Irish Whiskey, whilst Kristopher had a Glen Garioch, which is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Scotland. Their epiphany drams were both experiments in wood from Scottish Distilleries, with Sarah discovering the wonders of whisky with a glass of Auchentoshan Three Wood, and Kristopher became a fan following his first Balvennie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask whisky. For Kristopher, The Balvennie is still his still one of his favourite drams, but Sarah's job gives her the ability to try some extra special drams including her current favourite, which is The Cardrona Distillery Single Cask Pinot Noir. Their new favourite past time is working their way through 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die (Ian Buxton), a gift that Sarah got for Kristopher, although according to Sarah they have attacked it with such vigour that they could be finished by 2024, with a lot of living left to do! Exploring whisky is all about finding your favourite serves as well, and when Sarah goes out to a bar, she often opts for a Boiler Maker (a shot and a pint, if you didn't know) to ensure she takes her time and enjoys both instead of guzzling her whisky too quickly. Kristopher would go for a Penicillin as his whisky cocktail of choice, which is Blended Scotch, honey & Ginger syrup, lemon juice and an Islay Single Malt. We have never tried this one before, but everyday is a school day, so will give this a go later! Their shared passion for whisky is also highlighted by their choice to avoid the typical, all inclusive package holiday this year, instead opting to travel to some of their favourite distilleries and drink whisky in the heart of where it is made. Long may the adventure continue...
Slainte Mhath Sarah & Kristopher
Once again, our journey of whisky discovery has helped us make friends with others who share our passion for the marvels of malt and have a significant other who is on the journey with them. We have loved hearing from our fellow explorers and thank them for being part of this years article. The new world of whisky offers the perfect playground for couples to explore the wonders of whisky together, so if you haven't already, maybe it is time to start your own journey of whisky discovery with the one you love...
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY x x