I don't know if anyone managed to catch a recent STV production called "Made in Scotland." The July 23rd episode featured the actor David Hayman (Trial & Retribution) on a visit to Whyte & Mackay's Glasgow headquarters for a private tasting session with master blender Richard Paterson.
Richard Is one of the foremost whisky experts in the world and certainly one of its most colourful characters. He has been responsible for blending the Whyte & Mackay portfolio for over 30 years and also looks after the Jura and Dalmore single malts. He recently published the story of his life in the whisky business, "Goodness Nose", and what a cracking good read it is. To read more about Richard go to his site at http://www.themasterblender.com/.
Last year I was lucky enough to win a competition for readers of On-Trade Scotland magazine. The prize was my very own private tasting session with Richard Paterson, just like the one David Hayman enjoyed. After a history lesson on whisky and Whyte & Mackay's place therein, we made our way through to the sampling room - pictures of which can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/42021660@N03/sets/72157622157567893/.
Out of a number of samples tasted were the stunning Whyte & Mackay 40yo blend and a 40yo Dalmore. Richard also let me try a couple of samples of very old sherries to demonstrate the sherry-cask ageing effect. The depth of flavour in these sherries was absolutely amazing and nothing like the stuff they used to serve up at weddings!
As the session was drawing to a close, Richard produced one last dram. What was this he asked as I took my first few drops - "not a 20 year old, not a 30 year old, not a 40 year old, not a 50 year old". OK I admit I had heard of the legendary 62 year old Dalmore, but never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would be lucky enough to taste it! This is one of the most famous single malts in history, comprising whisky from the 1868, 1878, 1922, 1926 and 1939 vintages. Only twelve bottles were ever produced. In 2005, a guest at an exclusive English hotel bought the bottle they had on display for £32,000 and shared it with 5 lucky friends.He even left the last dram for the barman. 10 of the bottles are in private collections and the last bottle was kept by Whyte & Mackay to be enjoyed by Richard and those lucky enough to share his passion.
Whisky-wise this has got to be my most memorable tasting ever, not just for the depth and range of what I sampled that afternoon, but the passion, knowledge and humour which Richard added to the occasion.
As I travelled home to Aberdeen on the train, the lingering taste and pleasure of the Dalmore stayed with me the for the whole journey. Only once I was back in Aberdeen did I dare let anything other than water pass my lips.I knew, as only an Aberdonian whose turn it is to buy the next round, that I had made my drink last as long as possible!
The programme can be viewed on the STV Player website, here is the link, and select part 4 if you don't wish to see the whole episode.http://player.stv.tv/programmes/made-in-scotland/2009-07-23-2100/