“The day you enjoy whisky for itself, your whole world changes.”
That’s what Gerry Tosh, Head of Brand Education for Highland Park, told me earlier today and I couldn’t agree more. I eased myself into whisky-drinking by mixing blended whiskies with ginger ale or appletiser, which is perfectly acceptable according to Gerry. Then, once you’ve gradually acquired the taste you can move onto the magic of single malts.
Like most men, Gerry started drinking whisky to impress his girlfriend, but it ended up becoming his passion and career. He is a very down-to-earth Scotsman with no time for esoterics. “Whisky is simple. People make it complicated,” Gerry says in his Gaelic lilt.
That said, Highland Park has won numerous awards and is regarded as one of the top five single malts in the world. So it’s quite impressive that Gerry, who is only 35, has already been made a Keeper of the Quaich (the youngest male keeper), a society that educates and promotes the whisky industry. Interestingly, a woman is the youngest keeper, and Gerry says the number of female drinkers is growing globally, especially in Taiwan, Greece and France.
So what does it taste like?
Highland Park uses American Oak sherry casks which impart vanilla and butterscotch flavours. The distillery is on Orkney island, pretty much as far north as you can go in Scotland. Because the climate is so harsh there aren’t many trees, which means the peat used is less woody and therefore less smoky.
This is what makes Highland Park such an aromatic and well-balanced single malt whisky. But don’t take my word for it, rather enter my competition and try it for yourself.
All you need to do is email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your whisky story – when and why you fell in love with “the water of life” – and if I like it I’ll give you a set of double tickets to the Whisky Live Festival in Joburg tomorrow night and a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year Old.
You have until 10am tomorrow. The winner will be announced at noon. Wow me.