The moment we fell in love with whisky

Can you remember the first time it hit you? It happens to everyone; the moment we go from thinking ‘what’s all the fuss about?’ to ‘Wow, I need this in my life forever!’ Believe it or not, it happens with whisky too, and as appreciation for the golden nectar is growing exponentially the world over, many of us still remember the first time we fell in love with whisky.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day 2018, we asked members of the Scotch Whisky Experience team to tell us about the moment they knew they’d fallen hard for the hard stuff…

“I had actually never truly enjoyed whisky until I came for my job interview at the SWE, although I had tried a quite a few. During the whisky tour before my interview, I sampled some Glen Scotia and was completely surprised by how much I loved it. I got home and told my boyfriend all about the tour and mentioned that I’d really enjoyed the whisky. A few days later, when I found out that I’d got the job, he pulled out a bottle of Glen Scotia which he’d secretly bought me to say congratulations, and it’s been my favourite whisky ever since.”

Rebecca, SWE Alumni

Whisky tasting in the sun at Laphroaig, Islay. Photo: Scotch Whisky Experience team
Whisky tasting in the sun at Laphroaig, Islay. Photo: Scotch Whisky Experience team

“Having worked at The Scotch Whisky Experience for a couple of years, I decided to take a trip to Islay with my now sister-in laws and husband from Tasmania. Growing up with a Scottish dad, they had a good knowledge of Scotch whisky and seemed to have more knowledge of the Islay malts than I did! Our first stop on this particular day was Laphroaig for a 10am tour with three tastings matched with different foods. I recall trying a slice of orange and some cheese; the first real ‘food and whisky tasting’ that I had done and I enjoyed it so much! After the tour, we took our drams outside to sit in the sun to enjoy, looking out over the bay. Later that day we bought some smoked cheese and a 20cl bottle of Laphroaig and sat on the beach at Port Ellen to enjoy another dram!”

Gillian, Marketing team

“It all started with a single Speyside – the Singleton of Dufftown.

My friend, a few years older than I was and significantly more experienced at playing the field of malt matching, took me one a blind date with two unknown whiskies. He introduced them to me, reminding me of Cilla Black: “this one’s here’s called Laphroaig, and this one – I know you’ll love this one – is the Singleton of Dufftown.” Their combined scents made my eyes water but had aroused a curiosity I wasn’t aware I had within me.

I was certainly intrigued. I didn’t know their age, but since it was my first time I thought it would have been rude to ask. I eyed the Islay, the pale and straw-like hue somewhat standoffish compared to the copper tinged gold of the Singleton. The Singleton aroma was warm and inviting in comparison to the Laphroaig: green apples, cinnamon, subtle hints of honey. Images of freshly baked apple tarts flooded my mind and made my mouth water. I had made up my mind – it was this one I wanted.

As my lips touched the glass I felt the tingle on my lips spread over my tongue and my gums. Liquid gold had filled my mouth, tickling my taste buds and warming my soul. My first (whisky) kiss, and it was magical.

I never forgot the impression the Singleton had made on me all these years later. And sometimes I wonder how different things would have been had I not taken the jump that evening, and began this wonderful whisky journey I now call my life.”

Kieran, Whisky and Dry Stock team

“I hated whisky with a passion before I worked at the Scotch Whisky Experience, my only experiences were at university and they weren’t exactly pleasant. But being around people I work with, who loved it so much and who could show me the range and beauty of Scotch whisky, completely made me fall in love with it. Nobody ever told me that I was an idiot for not liking Scotch, they told me I hadn’t found my ‘one’ yet: once I had, I began trying more and completely fell in love.”

Heather R, Guiding team

“Back in 1999, I got together with a new boyfriend. After a few months together we started to go up north regularly to visit his grandparents in Glenbuchat, a gorgeous location on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. We loved being in the middle of nowhere, going for long walks, talking by the fire long into the night and the amazing food and drink we would be given while we stayed there.  The Grandfather loved Aberlour and for our evening drinks would give me a glass containing a good three fingers of this lovely whisky, no water, no arguments!  It would last me most of the evening and I loved how its flavour would develop over the course of the night as its temperature changed in the glass in my hand. I had enjoyed a wee whisky now and again before this, but this was something different.  After many evenings by roaring fires with lovely company, and full of good food and whisky I realised two things:

  • I had fallen in love with Scotch whisky
  • I had fallen in love with my boyfriend and was pretty sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him

We will have been married for 15 years on 1 March 2018.”

Iona, Finance team

“Last February, before I worked at the Scotch Whisky Experience, I was living with a fellow member of the Guiding team, and we were having a Friday night in. She took two bottles off the shelf and told me we were going to do a ‘professional whisky tasting’ – I now know it was Glen Scotia and AnCnoc Blas that we drank – and she took me through the Scotch Whisky Experience tour at our kitchen table. I remember being AMAZED at the fact that I was actually getting tasting notes off of them, like actual rum-soaked raisins or lemon meringue or freshly-mown grass. The more we drank, the more we waxed lyrical about them, and when we went out we were in such good spirits that we ended up recruiting half the people who were in the Jolly Judge to join us on our adventure. It was a fantastic night, and when we got back home in the wee hours we gave one of our new friends a ‘professional tasting that people usually have to pay good money for.’ A few days later, I applied for a job at the Scotch Whisky Experience.”

Peter, SWE Alumni

The Shetland Isles may look peaceful, but Hogmanay is a different story! Photo: The Scotch Whisky Experience team
The Shetland Isles may look peaceful, but Hogmanay is a different story! Photo: The Scotch Whisky Experience team

“I spent one Hogmanay staying with my mum on Unst in the Shetland isles – she was a nurse on the island and moving there from down south was a massive learning curve, not least when it came to learning about the customs of island life around the holidays. For those of you who haven’t experienced a Shetland New Year: if the lights are on at your house on 31st December after midnight, you’re fair game for a visit! Everyone brings a bottle of whisky with them as you roam from house to house, warmly greeted by the host and given a seat and some good chat. The host will take their bottle of whisky, pour a sizeable measure, then go around the room, toasting each guest and giving them a sip of whisky, then topping up and moving on. Then the next guest will get up and do the same with their bottle, and so on until everyone has had a sip of everyone else’s whisky. Suffice to say you’re there for a wee while! It made me realise that it doesn’t matter what whisky you prefer to drink, the ‘spirit’ of it is very much about sharing and toasting with new and old friends. I still get warm fuzzy feelings when I think about that evening. Sláinte mhath!”

Rosie, SWE Alumni

Do you have memories of when you first fell in love with Scotch whisky?

We’d love to hear your stories!

2 thoughts on “The moment we fell in love with whisky

  1. My wife bought me a bottle of the Sir Ernest Shackleton replica as a gift for a promotion at work. It was a difficult journey and she thought it symbolized my journey. It opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Single malts. Not to mention the great story of leadership and perseverance of Sir Ernest Shackleton! I am often asked what is my favorite. My reply is the one in my hand with friends. Slainte Mhathe!

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