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Issue 81 - Taking the learning curve

Whisky Magazine Issue 81
July 2009

 

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Taking the learning curve

Gavin D.Smith gets his satchel, pens and paper together and heads back to the classroom.

It is curious, and perhaps fortunate, that whisky writers require no formal qualifications. I suppose that unlike an unqualified brain surgeon, the worst we can do is fail to detect a hint of oiliness in Caol Ila or confuse our Lauters tuns with our semi-Lauters.

Nobody gets badly hurt due to our incompetence or lack of knowledge.

Nonetheless, I sometimes wonder whether, behind some of those confident exteriors, lurk folk who quietly grapple with the chemistry of fermentation or struggle to think of anything adjectival to say about certain unremarkable whiskies except ‘nice.' However, help is at hand for everyone with the urge to know more, amateur and professional alike.

For example, Moray College in Elgin operates a distance learning Whisky Course, while The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh runs a one-day ‘Certificate of Expertise in the Sales & Service of Scotch Whisky' course under the auspices of the Scotch Whisky Training School.

Additionally, a number of distilleries, including Glenturret, Glengoyne, The Macallan Glenfiddich and Balvenie, have responded to an increasing thirst for whisky knowledge, and now offer more in-depth, connoisseur experiences, many with a greater element of interaction than ‘standard' distillery tours.

But what if you want to go a stage further, and get down and dirty in a distillery itself?

Today several sites allow eager, would-be distillers or distillery groupies to gain genuine hands-on experience, with the first to offer a...

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