After much deliberation and some amazing whisky stories that made me and my fellow judge laugh and go “aww”, we have a winner of the Whisky Live tickets and a bottle of Highland Park – Claudine du Toit!
I’m a romantic soul at heart and also want more women to get into whisky, so Claudine cinched it. Although I must give an honourable mention to Mark Stacey and AJ Nel, who are obviously both very passionate about their ‘water of life’.
Here’s Claudine’s story:
“My dad drank whiskey and whisky when I was growing up so I always knew what it was. I tried it with soda a few times, but I couldn’t get a taste for it and so, disregarded it as “an old man’s drink”. Years ago, a group of us decided to do a road trip through Scotland. There was one rule – you may only drink whisky or water. For the entire trip I swallowed the drink and didn’t say a thing, this was the land where it all began. We stopped at distilleries, we tasted the well known great names and had a jolly time. I followed up this trip by travelling to Dublin and tasting the Irish version, whiskey. I had to admit that it was growing on me, but I was still not convinced that this was truly the “water of life”. At this stage I decided that my dad couldn’t change me, Scottish highlands and Dublin pubs couldn’t convince me and whiskey would never be my drink of choice.
Then came along this young man who blew me away, knocked my socks off and turned my world around. We lived on a game reserve and he was a game ranger. As part of his attempt to get me to say yes to dating him, he promised me a romantic sunset game drive. I agreed and off we went. Bathed in a golden light, the bush glows as the sun is about to set and Mr Rugged Ranger stops the vehicle. I expected champagne to be popped then slowly sipped as the sun disappeared. Not this man! He has a tradition that would stand regardless of what Cosmopolitan magazine says – he reveals a bottle of whiskey. He brings out two glasses, adds three blocks of ice to each and then pours in a generous amount of golden liquid. Unplanned, but perfectly timed, we heard the lions begin to vocalize in the distance. “Slante” he said and we clinked our glasses, “to Africa, to life and always having a whiskey in your hand”. I smiled, took a sip and sat back to watch the sunset. That was the moment I knew that I would marry that rugged ranger. That was also the moment I realised just how good whiskey can be. Now, it’s become my drink of choice and it’s the way we celebrated when he popped the question this year. (Obviously, “rugged ranger” will join me for the whiskey night).”