A blog by Vic Cameron, ex Diageo – a real whisky expert
“What is your favourite whisky?” is a question I am asked all the time. It is an interesting question but it is also a silly question to ask anyone who loves whisky (and I really love whisky). It is like asking me which is my favourite child, and I have three wonderful kids.
There is such a wide variation in styles and flavours of Scotch whisky that I think it is impossible to have a favourite and if I did it would be changing all the time. There are styles that I prefer, but not to the extent that I would say I do not like the other styles. For example I am a ‘bourbon head’ rather than a ‘sherry head’, preferring whisky that has been matured in an ex-bourbon cask over an ex-sherry cask, however only last night I thoroughly enjoyed a Talisker Distillers Edition (finished off in an Amoroso sherry cask). I also prefer peated whisky from Talisker and Islay rather than other regions, but this does not put me off enjoying a Benromach 10 year old now and again. If it were winter and cold outside my favourite would be a big and bold Lagavulin or Caol Ila, if it is summer and warm I would rather have a gentle yet complex Glenmorangie Original.
When my son is home or we have something to celebrate my Talisker 25 year old becomes my favourite but if it is just a wee dram before bed I could just about anything. Different seasons, different times, different company all alter my favourite whisky. For a long time my I would have answered the original question as, “Caol Ila 18 year old”. This is a wonderful whisky, with the added benefit that I got it cheap as a Diageo employee. At that time I also really stuck with Diageo products, being a loyal employee wanting to see the share price continually rise.
Since leaving Diageo and starting my own business I have had the joy of nosing and tasting numerous other Scotch whiskies, increasing the range of flavours and aromas perceived and thus increasing my enjoyment. I first experienced the delights of whisky from a virgin American oak cask when tasting the Glenrothes Alba. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before and became in instant ‘favourite’. Then along came the Glen Moray Chardonnay 10 year old, also unlike anything I had ever tasted, also becoming an instant ‘favourite’. Oh, and how about Glenfiddich 14 year old Rich Oak, finished in both new American and Spanish oak cask, also an instant and now my current ‘favourite’.
I was once asked if Japanese whisky was as good as Scotch whisky, I said no. I was then asked if I had tried Japanese whisky, again my answer was no. There is too much Scotch out there to be bothering with anything else I told the reporter. This is not actually true as I am starting to discover the delights of some Japanese expressions and some bourbons, but Scotch is still my first love and the product I will keep returning to again and again.
I intend to find lots more ‘favourites’ as I carry on in this journey of exploration, do you have any suggestions for me?
Vic Cameron, Discerning of Spirits
Note: Vic is a great pal of ours and has hosted many special tastings and whisky schools for us as part of a whisky tour, always great fun! Thanks Vic. Liz and Paul