Friday, October 16, 2009

No Ice, So Nobody Died

The man was in top form, a barrage of names, dates and stories, a scattergun of facts and figures, and the revelation that Yoko Ono now follows him on Twitter. Just another night in the inner sanctum of Richard Paterson. His blending room at Dalmore House in Glasgow was the scene for a celebration of his award-winning 30-year-old Whyte and Mackay, along with a tasting of his other W&Ms, from the standard blend to a sublime 40 year old.
Along the way we had chocolate digestives, hobnobs and dark, dark chocolates. Bobby B, Erik, Mark, the newly shorn Shawn and your humble chairman turned out for the celebration - Bobby and Toshie resplendant in the club's new polo shirts - along with a dozen or so bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers and whisky fans from across Scotland. One chap even came from Elgin for the chance to meet Richard and drink his whiskies.
We started with a dram of the standard W&M aged between four and six years, then moved into the great man’s blending room. Every bottle in the glass cases on both sides of the room had a story to tell, and Richard wasn’t shy about telling them. We progressed to the 13, Richard’s favourite everyday dram, then the 19, which had more weight and an abundance of spice, marmalade, Christmas cake. It’s a definite winner, with 22 – 27 single malts in it. Next up was the 22, soft yet weighty with a lot of Old Pulteney and Clynelish in it, giving it a nice coastal feel. The award winner, the 30 was next, and it’s easy to see why this is such a great whisky, and testimony to the blender’s art. There’s a very high malt content and notes of Old English marmalade, cherries, orange peel, treacle and ginger. Simply sublime and perfect for an after dinner dram.
At this point it should be noted that Richard’s Facebook and Twitter guru, Craig McGill, was being more than generous in his pours, which helped the evening go smoothly and raised Mr P’s eyebrows when he saw the size of the measures the 30 came in – three bottles worth!
A slightly more … normal ... measure for the last dram of the night – the 40 year old. With 70% single malt content, this had nice woody notes, with floral and spicy Parma violets coming through along with liquorice and crushed almonds.
The thing that came shining through, apart from the quality of the whiskies, was the undoubted enthusiasm Richard has for the blender’s art. He’s well known for the theatrical nature of his presentation – ice and whisky thrown on the floor, the nosing, the mm-mm, mm-mm, mm-mm as he chews the dram, but the man is a worthy ambassador for Scotch across the world, and his blended whiskies deserve to be appreciated for the quality they undoubtedly are.