It may seem odd to attend a whisky tasting at a brewery but Tennents have set up a training academy offering a wide range of courses. These are segmented into 3 distinct areas:-
Leisure – seafood masterclass, tapas, curry, thai food, cocktails, whisky tasting, gluten free cookery + many more
Cookery School – game masterclass, macarons, south Asian curry, Italian, Mexican, bread making, Arabian, vegan + many more
Professional – pub management, beer, wine, cocktails, BIIAB courses, customer service + many more
I took the whisky course 30 minutes after the brewery tour (read here) in which time I had an opportunity to meet a variety of people who had come to the curry and comedy night. It seemed a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening with a partner. Learn how to cook some delicious curries and then all descend upon a comedy club in the city centre. Speaking with the attendees at the club they had all loved the course so this is defiantly one for the next time I get to Glasgow.
On to the whisky tasting. I am a keen whisky drinker and have 20 or so single malts in my humble collection. Nothing exotic or rare but a start. I was keen to develop a more in-depth knowledge of the subject and this course seemed a perfect opportunity.
It was led by Kenny Macdonald who owns www.drammor.co.uk which runs whisky events and training. I found Kenny to a brilliant teacher, humorous and very knowledgeable. He was engaging and passionate which is exactly what a course leader should be. Kenny gave us a introduction to whisky, the different types available and how they differ from expressions found elsewhere around the globe whilst respecting them.
During the course of the evening we tasted 6 whiskies taking in the different styles and areas around Scotland. Kenny introduced us to each one individually, guiding us through the nose and palate of each with information about its flavour profile. Kenny asked us what the usual reaction was from non-whisky loving people when you give them a dram. We all agreed that it could be quite humorous with the initial burn of the alcohol taking over their palate like a blow torch being ignited. We discussed this before consuming our first drop of liquids in front of us that ranged in colour from pale to a deep amber. We all experienced the “burn” but when sipped for the second and subsequent times it had dissipated leaving just the various tones of floral flavours, peat, vanilla etc.
We discussed the different notes you might find from whisky aged in sherry barrels or port pipes. He taught us that often people are put off whisky by the initial burn but that disappears after your first sip. Throughout the evening we were given various anecdotes, facts and snippets of information to build our knowledge. I found this particularly interesting and it has definitely helped me in selecting future purchases.
I have to admit that I have never been one to add water to my whisky. I could not be persuaded by various Scottish friends to change this despite their persuasive arguments. I wanted to taste it as it was released from the distillery and presumably how the master whisky maker had intended it. Why would they not simply add more water if they wanted to? I have to admit that Kenny successfully changed my perception of this and I am a convert, especially to barrel strength expressions. It does alter the characteristics even with a small drop and of course makes the bottle go just that little further.
I have to confess that I was so engrossed by Kenny that I totally forgot to take photographs – I really was that focussed on taking in all the knowledge on offer. I had a wonderful evening and will now be looking to further increase my knowledge my attending the odd whisky festival or two.
I flew from Gatwick to Glasgow on Eastjet and stayed at the Village Hotel Glasgow opposite the BBC Scotland building.