My Whisky Journey – 24.03.20
by Tim Foster – Sales Manager, Lindores Abbey Distillery
I used to drive from Leeds to Thurso on a regular basis. The journey always became more interesting as I passed Pitlochry and started to wind my way up into the Highlands. All of a sudden, the lowland pastures gave way to rugged hills and pine forests either side of the road.
Munro’s would tower over the car as I headed forever upwards, the road eventually levelling out into expansive heather moorland. Nestled in the sparse landscape sat the beautiful Dalwhinnie Distillery. I’d pass it many times before curiosity would get the better of me.
I was mesmerised by every aspect. I felt as though I’d finally connected with Scotland and somehow unlocked the mystery of their national drink ‘Whisky’. Dalwhinnie single malt was so smooth and light, nothing like the Bells I’d swiped from my parents cupboard. Now that I had disarmed single malt, I wondered what other whiskys were like? I started to order malts at the end of an evening, initially going on the colour (… before I learned about E150a) learning quickly that sherried Whisky made it dark and sweet.
Then I met my wife and future father in law in 2011, who asked if I liked Whisky? On hearing my response we went to ‘the Whisky room’. That’s right, my father in law has an entire room dedicated to Whisky, organised by region. With access to some of the finest single malt imaginable my love affair with his daughter and single malt thrived.
Fast forward to 2016, I came across a Tweet by Pilot Brewing – ’12 months since we quit our boring office jobs to study Brewing & Distilling… now we have a brewery’. It was too tempting to ignore. My wife agreed to let me quit my career and follow my passion.
To help fund study I took a job at SMWS Vaults, giving me even more privileged access to Whiskys you can only dream of. I also passed the exam to become a tasting panel member, an honour I still cherish. I even got to base my MSc thesis on Aqua Vitae which means ‘Water of life’ / ‘Usquabae’ with Lindores Abbey, getting to research and recreate ‘pre-whisky Whisky’ – it was such a privilege.
But what I really love about Whisky is sharing it with friends, both old and new. The Whisky community and its ‘co-operatition*’. The passion of my fellow Whisky industry compatriots. How we still get as excited talking about Whisky as we did when we first unlocked its mysteries. How each distillery has its tales, its idiosyncrasy, some with murky tales and all with an ambitious future. Travelling through the magnificent Scottish landscape and finding steaming rooftops churning out the most wonderful Whiskies in hidden Glens, remote islands and at the end of winding farm track roads. I love asking bartenders for a ‘dealers choice dram’ and not caring what I’m poured. I love it all.
Thank you Whisky. Here’s to you – ‘slainte’
*The word co-operatition means to cooperate and compete at the same time.