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Issue 20 - Maltster and servant

Whisky Magazine Issue 20
December 2001


This article is 16 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Maltster and servant

A keen collector of first-hand information on whisky, Martine Nouet had the fantastic opportunity to make a whisky-lover and -writer's dream come true: work in the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries for a week. Have a dram of her dream.

How close can a whisky writer approach whisky, apart from nosing and tasting? Visiting a distillery certainly brings you nearer to your subject but there's still a sense of distance. The knowledge journalists patiently collect through visiting distilleries and interviewing whisky makers may be first-hand, but we remain spectators, not actors in the play our lives revolve around.

Having toured a good 50 distilleries without a single second of boredom (people who say if you've seen one, you've seen them all don't have a clue!), I should perhaps feel content and consider myself a well-informed whisky writer.
I had a vague feeling I could try harder: on investigating this feeling, I concluded that working in a distillery could make a significant difference to me professionally, giving a more complete picture of the whisky world. This became my goal – and also my dream.

The opportunity for fulfilment came when, in the course of a conversation with William Grant's Managing Director, I was invited to Glenfiddich. It was agreed I would begin training the day after the Glenfiddich and Balvenie cask selection I had been invited to.

Day one: manual labour
A nosing of a 1926 Balvenie in the warehouse and tasting a wonderful selection of old vintages is a rather cordial start to what I anticipate will be a week of hard physical labour. But I feel a little heavy-hearted when my colleagues depart for the airport, like a schoolgirl experiencing boarding school for the first time sayi...

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