The Whisky Tasting Club

Book tour part 8 – Movember charity bash

It was because of Chris and Lucas at the Edinburgh Whisky Blog that I signed up to grow a moustache to raise cash for Movember so it seemed logical to catch up with my mo bros in Edinburgh, sink a whisky or two, and maybe raise some money for the cause.

I have to say that the decision to grow a moustache for charity was typically spontaneous and rash, and by mid November I was regretting the whole thing. We didn’t get on. I have never grown a moustache before and it acted like it was affronted by my inconsiderate attitude to facial hair over the last four decades. It proved to be as independent, messy, irritating and annoying as I am and it spent three weeks giving me chapped lips and a sore mouth. The worst bit, though, was I could just see it on the edge of my vision while writing. I swear it was smirking at me.

I wouldn’t have minded so much if anyone had liked it, but no one did, except my five year old daughter. It made me look old, dirty and shady and I couldn’t get rid of it soon enough.

But the month had its moments. I liked sharing a cause with sportsmen across the world, and there was a pleasant fraternal feeling about it all. And meeting up in Edinburgh with fellow Movemberites was a definite plus.

It was great to catch up with Annabel Meikle, too. She is one of my favourite people in whisky and she gets an honourable mention in my book, because she’s right up there when it comes to expertise in tasting and nosing.

When I first met her she worked at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society but in recent years she has been a brand ambassador for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. Travelling the world talking about whisky might seem like a dream job but lonely hotel rooms, living out of a suitcase, lost luggage and the endless grind of airport security and delayed flights most certainly isn’t, and eventually it catches up with everyone.

So it’s wonderful that Annabel is back at the Society, in great health as she prepares for a charity trip up a mountain, and clearly very happy.

I’ve brought a sherried Penderyn for the event but it’s decided to raffle that for Movember and drink an SMWS cask strength Penderyn matured in port pipes instead. It’s a big, rich, fruity and liqueur-like whisky and the best thing I’ve tasted from this distillery by some distance.

I’ve also brought a bottle of Woodford Reserve bottled from a cask selected by American cocktail king Dale DeGroff and I some eight years ago. It’s special because it is the first and still one of the only Woodford Reserves made with spirit distilled and matured exclusively at the Woodford Reserve distillery and not mixed with spirit from the Brown Forman one in Louisville.

It caused quite a stir in the  bourbon community for this reason, and drinking it now I notice that there is a sharp toastiness to it, hinting at the problems with scalding the distillers had when they first  sought to make bourbon in a pot still.

It’s also very spicy. Perhaps presciently given recent trends, we opted for a bourbon with a big rye hit, even by Woodford standards,  from the several samples we considered. There’s hardly any left now, and it’s a while since I tasted it. I’d forgotten how good it is.

As is the way with these sort of things, the evening got progressively less serious and irreverent and we ended up debating most of the major issues of the day. Chris tried several times to act as moderator and bring us back to whisky, but without much success. I loved it, though: for me I was a chance to kick back and relax.

Stayed out far too late, ending up in a pub past midnight. But worth the struggle next day. A good night with good people for a good cause.

Maxxium is home to Ardmore, Glenrothes, Highland Park, Laphroaig and The Macallan

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