Whisky Magazine Issue 20
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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...