More from the feature on whisky bloggers from around the world this time we travel back to sunny Durham and chat to Danny Williamson.
I've been chatting with Danny from Dramstats via Twitter for a few months and we seem to get along great. I really enjoyed reading Danny's answers and hope you do too.
Why did you start your Whisky website?
There were two reasons really. I'd been into whisky for about 5 years, getting up to a few distilleries every year and buying some really great drams, but had no record of anywhere I'd been or anything I'd tasted. Every time I'd finish a bottle I kept thinking "I wonder if I'll ever taste that again" and "I should keep records". I then bought a glass of an oldish Ardbeg in a bar in Glasgow, I can't even remember how old it was, only that it cost about £30. The next morning, I couldn't remember what it was like or whether it was worth it. I was so angry with myself for wasting the experience and resolved to start a whisky blog and make sure I keep records of my whisky experiences.
The reason for opting for a blog rather than a private journal was that I felt like I had something to say. I buy a lot of whisky and although I've hardly ever bought a bottle of whisky I didn't like, I've bought plenty where I was disappointed relative to the money I'd spent. I've also bought whisky that was brilliant relative to the price and really surprised me. As a whisky fan on a budget, I've always sought reviews that discuss value for money when looking to buy something new. Reviews of this type are not always easy to find. As Jim Murray says, prices vary from country to country and value is quite a personal judgement, so there are, perhaps, good reasons for this. Nevertheless, I think a blog can be a good medium to vent your opinions and, having spent a lot of money on a bottle of whisky, I always have an opinion on whether that money was well spent. So I figured that if I was on the look out for this type of opinion, maybe other people were and maybe they'd be interested to read mine.
What is your earliest Whisky Memory?
I was about 13 and we had a friend of the family staying who always drank Grants. My Dad never drank whisky so I'd never really thought about it before, but here was this man and it was his favourite drink. So, given that I really liked beer, I asked him for a taste. Well, to understand my reaction you really need to watch the youtube videos of people tasting the Master of Malt 250,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka! I really did react like I'd eaten raw chilli! It burned the mouth and all the way down and I thought it was the nastiest thing I'd ever tasted. Funny Grants is a blend I always keep around now.
In no particular order what 3 Whiskies would you recommend to someone new to whisky?
First, try a Bourbon. No better way of understanding Vanillins and the bourbon cask influence on Scotch. Lots of good, inexpensive choices in the UK, but I'd go for Bulleit which I really like.
Next, something rich and fruity but with vanilla. A good value sherried whisky is the Sheep Dip Amoroso Oloroso but it's getting increasingly difficult to get hold of. If you can't get that, Glendronach 12 or 15 year old (depending on your budget) are excellent.
Next something peaty from Islay. You really can't go wrong with Lagavulin 16 with it's rich sweetness and huge peat to follow the second.
Money no object, what Whisky would you love to own and open?
Wow. So many over 30 year olds I want to try. If just one probably the Black Bowmore which is the first super-premium I heard of. Everything about the flavour profile makes me desperate to try it. In another life perhaps? :)
Would you have any tips for other Whisky drinkers?
Two tips: First, trust your own nose and palate above anyone else's opinions and reviews. Whisky is, after all, just a drink. Smell is a personal experience. Taste is a personal experience. So only you know what your whisky smells like and what it tastes like. Find what you like to drink and enjoy it. Second, good blended whisky is amazing and every bit as good as good single malt. Don't neglect to try as much of it as you can else you'll be missing out!
Why should people visit your website?
Because it's the best whisky blog ever writt... Ha ha only joking! If opinions on value for money for reviewed whisky, quality of experience on distillery visits, and other whisky related things interest you, then come and read mine! If you are interested to see what was in the whisky advent calendar, I'm also doing a series on that. I am NOT an expert on whisky, nor am I a connoisseur. I'm just another whisky drinker on a budget who happens to post his views online.
Many thanks to Danny and please remember to go visit the website at Dramstats