Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Whisky, and other lesser issues.

For those who know me well, you’ll know that I’ve always been a fan of the odd beer or two, and politics, particularly the party conference season, drink along to Cameron, Clegg or Milliband. For those who didn’t know me that well who now think I have a drink problem, I don’t. The fact of the matter is that I enjoy a beer, it turns me into a loud, hilarious (or at least I think so) and confident person. All these attributes are hideous clearly, but it happens, and what can I say, it can sometimes be spectacular… Then again sometimes my old friend beer turns on me with sharp retribution and punishes me for being too cocky and forces me to vomit quite extensively into the toilet or whatever receptacle is to hand.

I like ale, I like a nice beer and I don’t mind the odd drop of wine. I think they’re tasty, and in moderation, fun.

What I don’t think however is that any of them will change the world for the better, or further, influence world events. Unlike whisky.

I went to my first whisky tasting at the weekend and discovered that, well, I don’t like the stuff. While everyone else was cooing over the peaty textures, the light sea breeze titillating the tongue and the lighter effects of an obscure wood barrel, I was quietly choking trying to avoid tears coming to my eyes and the onset of a heart attack. But that’s fine, everyone’s entitled to their own tastes and opinions, even if they are entirely wrong.

What really bothered me about whisky however, wasn’t the nauseating flavour, the silly sized glasses or that some of them cost more than my annual wage for a bottle. What bothered me was Jim Murray. Jim Murray, if you’ve not heard of him, writes The Whisky Bible, a book treated with reverence and respect by every beard-wearing, tweed-loving whisky drinking lonely individual who longs to live in Scotland with other beard-wearing, tweed-loving whisky drinking lonely individuals. For reference  a signed copy of The Whisky Bible adds £2 to its value – he’s clearly important.

I picked up this book while in a Whisky shop, a shop that sells Whisky and a single bottle of Gin (hidden in the corner). I flicked through the first page and it was there I realised how important Whisky is.. It opens…

This is the Whisky Bible which began in the Arab Spring.”

Undoubtedly the Egyptian and Libyan people were thinking about this at the time, ah, at last, a new Whisky Bible, all this bloodshed is worthwhile if it provided a conduit for the production of a new Whisky Bible. The Whisky Bible’s inception is as important as a major uprising throughout the middle-east. Well that’s a serious start… It continues…

“And 1,210 new whiskies and some 200 retastes later ended in the Hoodie autumn.” And so a pattern emerges, the starting of a new Whisky Bible causes dissent in the Arab world while the ending of one causes a rise in Hoodie culture. Can it be that this book is a bringer of death and destruction? Although in their defence, after finding out there are 1,210 new whiskies (not even old ones) in the world (and who really needs that many), a Hoodie autumn is the least we should expect.

But my question is how dangerous can it really be creating a Whisky Bible, well, he tells us…

“And was it worth dodging tornadoes in Kentucky and riots in the UK”. It would seem this is the most dangerous job ever, I can see him now, flak jacket on, running through the deserted streets of London, flanked by riot police, desperate to find the dram that will save the country from the impending madness.

And was it worth it?

“You bet!”

Now I’m not an expert. But…

Is suggesting that tasting whiskey is a dangerous pursuit a bit stupid? It’s a drink, you sit and drink it. I can’t think of any circumstances where it would be necessary to dodge a riot for a drink. Also, if he hadn’t dodged the riot, would it mean that there would be 1 less whisky in the book? Surely that’d be a good thing? And does he have serious liver damage? 1,410 samples of whisky is a lot, 1.4 units a sample, means 1974 units consumed in one year, which means on average 5.4 units a day – and that’s assuming it’s just one measure.

My main problem isn’t whisky however, its the crow barring of current affairs into a technical bit of writing to make it seem relevant and contemporary. It annoys me, I don’t know why, it’s just unnecessary…