Nicky Marr: No argument about the magic of whisky
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It’s rare that I start a broadcast with an argument, but that’s exactly what happened in Speyside last Thursday evening.
We were about to go live to the world on YouTube and Facebook to launch a very fine, rare, 18-year-old Tamdhu, the first to come from the distillery in its 125-year history.
Picture the scene; me in one chair, two gentlemen to my right.
In front of us, a table with glasses of wonderful whiskies.
Behind us, a wondrous “sweetie shop” display of bottles of Tamdhu, each expression carefully, patiently, matured in Oloroso Sherry Casks.
Facing us, a small but perfectly formed film crew, with cameras, microphones, and an eye on the clock. And the three of us were bickering.
To my shame, I was the one who had started it.
“I think I’ve got the best job in the world,” I muttered, as I stuck my nose into the (still-to-be-tasted) glass of Tamdhu Dalbeallie, Batch 4, to be precise.
There I was, in beautiful surroundings, about to taste and talk whisky for an hour with a couple of gents who live and breathe the stuff. Someone else was driving me home.
Living the dream.
But Sandy McIntyre, distillery manager at Tamdhu for the past decade, wasn’t having any of it.
“No, I’ve got the best job,” he said.
“I make this stuff, I look after this stuff, I get to live here in the distillery, take care of the casks, and taste from them every day.
“My job is better than yours.”
Maybe he had a point.
It could be said that “Sandy’s share” of the casks rivals the share the angels get, in fact, that was said.
Then our third contender for the title chipped in.
“Sorry, you’re both wrong,” he said. “That title is mine.”
As international brand manager for Ian Macleod Distillers, the company which owns Tamdhu Distillery, Gordon Dundas travels the world, spreading whisky love and good cheer to eager audiences from Alaska to New Zealand.
After 20 years, there can be few drams he hasn’t tried.
As the hour-long broadcast unfolded, the passion this double-act has for one of Scotland’s biggest and best exports just oozed.
I make no secret of my own love of a dram (that emoji might be one of the most used on my phone) but it’s not just the nectar in the glass that matters, but the stories behind the dram, and the memories a dram can evoke.
Whisky isn’t something you drink to get drunk, it’s a treat to share with the best of people, late in the evening, while you swap stories and set the world to rights.
It’s a drink to savour, to relish, to relax with.
Later this month, The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival returns after a Covid-induced “holiday”, and visitors and locals will come together to create new whisky-fuelled memories.
Nothing sells our wonderful corner of the world better than the amber nectar we produce and export.
Congratulations to Tamdhu on the launch of their new 18-year-old, and good luck to the festival, and all who indulge.
More from Nicky Marr:
Clean break better for all
The news that England and Wales have followed in Scotland’s footsteps to introduce no-fault divorce, must be a huge relief for separating families south of the border.
It’s a couple of decades since I was a solicitor, but family law was my field. And I can remember seeing the relief on clients’ faces when they realised that they didn’t have to rake over details of hurt, adultery, or betrayal, to unpick their marriage. Instead, we encouraged clients to focus on the future, working out how to best live apart, and create positive co-parenting solutions.
No-one wants marriages to fail, but divorce is a fact of life. I was proud to be part of a Scottish legal system that recognised the damaging impact on families of pitting spouses against each other when their marriage had clearly broken down. Seeing that adopted elsewhere is good news.
How the other half lives
There is nothing like a popular TV series to influence shopping habits, and while many are struggling to choose between heating and eating, the upper crust of society, have, it seems, been influenced by the return to Netflix of a second series of Bridgerton.
The regency drama has reportedly caused an increase in demand for tiaras and corsets, silk tailored jackets and croquet sets. The elite in Mayfair are also apparently advertising for butlers. Butlers? When tourism businesses here can’t employ enough staff to open their doors?
Surely another example of the northsouth divide