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Richard Paterson Masterclass

Wow…!  Where to start?  richard_and_phylloxera_bugUmm… well you may be interested to know that Richard Paterson’s great, great, great Grandfather, William Paterson, helped found the Bank of England back in 1694 having proposed a plan three year previously.  And did you know that ‘the water of life’ was used as a cure for black death? Or that the Church distilled it and took it on the crusades to give to the heretics, attributing the life giving qualities of the spirit as God’s will? Were you aware that when King Henry VIII’s struggles with the papal authority led to the dissolution of the monasteries, thereby making scores of Monks redundant, they took their distillation knowledge to Scotland to form some of the early distilleries? Apparently by 1823 there were over 14 thousand distilleries in operation. Around that time brandy was considered to be the more popular beverage, however when French vines were ravaged by a bug that had been brought over from America, supplies dwindled leading to a surge in popularity in whisky. According to Richard, more whisky is drunk in one month than cognac is produced in one year!

This (and more!) was what we learned in the first 20 minutes of a gripping and highly amusing opening salvo from Richard. I make no apologies for any factual inaccuracies in the above paragraph, I didn’t have the time to make detailed notes! There were some interesting facts about Anne Boleyn too, and numerous other dates mentioned, something about Scotland having eight universities and England only having three…but I digress. Aside from the history lessons, we were here to enjoy some quality whiskies.

The art of nosing and tasting a whisky is something Richard obviously feels very passionately about. From ensuring you have the correct glass (preferably a copita nosing glass), which must be clean and free of any odours (woe betide anyone who offers him a glass that has been stored upside down on a cloth!) to holding the glass in the correct manner (cup it like a Frenchman warming a brandy glass and you are likely to receive a slap or a poke in the eye… in fact most likely both!) until finally taking the time required to gently nose, nose and nose again to ensure you pick up all the subtleties of the dram. Is there an ideal time you should nose the whisky for? I would suggest that it differs from person to person and indeed from dram to dram… when you consider how long Richard spent nosing the whisky recovered from Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica then I would assume the longer the better! (more on that later).

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Then on to everyone’s favourite part… the tasting. Now if you ever have the pleasure of being invited to dinner at Richard’s house, promise me one thing: If he offers you a dram, when taking your first sip, hold it in your mouth. For the love of god HOLD IT! Neck it in hold_that_whisky_in_your_mouth_and_savour_itone and he’s more than likely to kick you under the table. Hold it for just three seconds and at the least you’ll get a scowl and a stern reprimand. Allow the dram to develop in your mouth… hold it under your tongue, then roll it around and let it sit on top of your tongue. Ensure all those different flavour receptors are given a chance to analyse and appreciate the liquid. If you think about it, you are enjoying a beverage that has taken many years to craft. Consider not just the time spent aging in barrels, but the time it took to grow and harvest the barley… which has then been soaked, then dried (if it’s dried over a peat fire consider the age of the peat!) before eventually being mashed, fermented then finally distilled. The production of a good quality whisky is a time consuming, labour intensive process that should be respected when it comes to tasting the finished product. I’m sure the majority of whisky aficionados are well aware of this, but hearing Richard speak so passionately about it reaffirms the belief. As he would say, “The pu**ies haven’t a clue!”

Of the whiskies we sampled, I was most interested in the Mackinlay’s Shackleton’s Journey. This expression has gained quite a bit of press coverage because of the remarkable story behind its creation. Back in 1907, the Glen Mhor distillery supplied 46 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt to Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition. Fast forward one hundred years and having spent the best part of a century entombed in ice, three crates of the whisky were discovered by a team from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust. In 2010, a case was extracted from the ice and three bottles were accompanied by Richard (as stipulated by the NZ Government) back to Scotland. I would urge you to read the journey as told by Richard himself here http://www.theshackletonwhisky.com/richards-story/ it’s a fascinating read. What isn’t mentioned online is the time Richard spent analysing the whisky… 56 hours of nosing alone! Not a bad job if you can get it I suppose.

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The other expressions sampled on the night were:richard_paterson_masterclass_lineup

Jura Prophecy

Jura 1977

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Dalmore 18 year old

Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III

 

I did take some tasting notes, but I’ve decided not to publish them this time around. What I wanted to convey in this blog, was not the qualities of the whiskies themselves, but the qualities of a man whose love and passion for whisky is truly inspiring. This was by far the best tasting I’ve attended to date. It was informative, fun, full of energy with some amazing whiskies. At the end of the night the room was a mess! Richard has a habit of flinging whisky everywhere… never offer him a whisky with ice in it, it will end up over your curtains! If you ever get the opportunity to attend a tasting or presentation given by Richard, I urge you not to pass it up.

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I’ll leave you with his closing words with the seventh dram he served us as an unexpected bonus from the DalmoreConstellation collection … “This is a drink to be enjoyed by fathers and sons” and as I chinked glasses with my dad across the table, I knew exactly what he meant.

Slainte!
Kieran Smyth

 

 

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Whisky is our passion and for some years it's been our business as well. Available from both our whisky shop in Wiltshire and our online shop is a superb range of single malt whiskies, wines, spirits and beers from around the world. At the last count we had over 800 different whiskies in stock so we are usually able to despatch your order the next working day at the latest.

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