Hmmm where to start?
I wasn’t a whisky drinker to start with – my spirit of choice was Tequila, the spirit of Mexico…
I still love tequila, but find it extremely hard to get a decent range in Tassie. Doing a trip to Mexico only made it worse.
Skip to about 8 or 9 years ago – a friend introduced me to scotch – proper decent single malt scotch – I found that while different to tequila, it was still approachable, and had all the same qualities I liked. It was also a lot more available in Tasmania, and had a lot more variety.
I started going along to the Single Malt Whisky Society nights, which also introduced me to two other sides to whisky – cask strength whisky, and peated whisky. Cask strength I loved straight away, peated whisky took me a little while to come to grips with!
A year or two later, as the Single Malt Whisky Society wound down (in Tassie anyway), I was saddened that I didn’t know of any way to keep my interest in whisky continuing – so I came to the realisation that Tasmania still needed a club/society/group that could showcase whisky in a casual and fun environment. So with the help of Tim Duckett & Bill Lark, we started TWAS – the Tasmanian Whisky Appreciation Society.
Running the society has given me an inside track on whisky, and it’s also allowed me to increase my knowledge and passion for whisky of all types (including the fledgling Tasmanian industry at the time!). I used to think scotch or bourbon was something to be mixed with ginger ale or coke. Now I know it to be a sublime product, with almost infinite varieties. I’ve discovered bourbon whisky, wheat whisky, oat whisky, rye whisky, whiskies from dozens of different countries as well as our own superb local Tasmanian whiskies.
While I love all whiskies and haven’t yet found one I didn’t like, my own personal taste runs to the sweeter side of things – a whisky that’s been matured in port, or sauternnes or muscat does the trick for me – and if it’s cask strength then it’s even better.
There is a wonderful side effect to drinking great whisky, in that I have gotten to meet a whole bunch of great people as well – they have their own tastes & opinions about whisky – but they’re all passionate, intelligent, and willing to learn more.
I’m a enthusiastic bushwalker, and there’s always a flask of whisky (“The Doctor”) in my backpack for medical emergencies (“Night has fallen…” “A fall you say?!? well quick man, get the Doctor!”). I’ve sat at the top of Cradle Mountain, sipping an Overeem Port Cask single malt, watching the sun set, and it was beyond words.
I know I’ll be drinking whisky for the rest of my life, but as a wise Scotsman once said “Whisky keeps you young!” – so I could be a while!