Whisky Geek

I’ve blogged a few times about whisky here, but I think it’s fair to say my interest has grown significantly in the 2-year gap between my last two blogs!  I can’t recall the exact order these things happened, but there were a number of triggers to me becoming somewhat of a whisky geek.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)

For my 50th birthday, a good friend (and my old dive buddy) bought me a membership to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, or SMWS for short.  I’d never heard of it, but it’s probably best described as a whisky club with about 40,000 members worldwide.  They’ve been bottling whisky for 40 years (2023 was their 40th birthday) and also have private members clubs in various locations, of which three are conveniently located in Glasgow (Bath Street) and Edinburgh (Queen Street and The Valuts, their spiritual home).  The whisky is all bottled at cask strength and is very different from the typical dram I’d been drinking in the past.  I’ve visited all three clubs numerous times and bought several bottles. I try to pick these up when on offer, but I also look out for specific distillery bottlings. Their naming makes it somewhat of a challenge to know where each bottle is from.  Luckily, this can be found quite easily online, and there’s also quite a nice free App. My most recent bottle was from the January Outturn – 84.26 Uptown Funk You Sup. See if you can work out where it’s from?

Whisky Tasting

Along with visits to the SMWS, I’ve started attending a few whisky-tasting sessions. I think this started online during lockdown, where a small group of friends did some Zoom calls where we’d bought each other the same samples from an online retailer (quite often Masters of Malt). We covered whisky, rum, vodka, and red wine, but we knew what we were drinking, and it was more about the social interaction we were missing than the drinks themself!

One of those friends, who lives in the nearest village, decided to continue this post-COVID at a local bar that runs blind whisky tasting a few times a year. Du Vin Bouchers is a small wine bar on the High Street and probably only holds about 30-40 people, but the blind whisky tastings are a fantastic way of trying new whisky and meeting some like-minded people. The best ones have been hosted by the Jolly Topper, who you can follow on Twitter/X @jolly_toper. His knowledge of whisky and tasting style is excellent. He’s also the manager of the Royal Mile Whisky shop in Edinburgh, which I can recommend if you’re looking for a great place to try and buy whisky!

It was one of these whisky tastings where the seed of collecting whisky was planted in my brain. The table we sat on had another group of whisky geeks who all had substantial whisky collections and shared samples. This really sparked something in me, which I’ll go into a little more below.


At the same time, I’ve been watching more YouTube, where there is a great online whisky community. There are far too many whisky geek Youtubers to mention, although if you are looking for somewhere to start, you can’t go wrong with Ralfy! His videos are approachable and contain excellent information, which has helped me explore whisky further. The community is quite strong, so watching one of Ralfy’s videos will invariably pop up recommendations for other whisky Youtubers. The Online Scotch Whisky Awards, or OSWAs, would be another great starting point. 2023 was their third year, set up by Ralfy and Roy, who runs the Aqvavitae channel and is heavily involved in the Dramface website, another great online whisky resource.

Whisky Collection

Online reviews, along with further reading (both online and offline), have been the main source for my growing whisky collection. I think this consisted of 3-4 open bottles back in 2016 when I first blogged about whisky here, and I currently have 13 open bottles, 84 closed bottles, and 34 samples. The samples are anything from 20ml distillery bottles to 20cl bottles of something I’ve finished but wanted to keep to try again at a later date. There are also 50ml samples that have been shared with family and friends and who have also reciprocated!

I also discovered Whiskybase, a great online tool for finding more about whisky and cataloguing a collection and history online. You can check out mine here, and feel free to invite me as a friend so I can see what you’re enjoying, too. I think this is when you realise you’ve become a whisky geek. I suspect the numbers above may have changed by the time you visit, but here are some screenshots from a few days ago.





The Open bottles





Some of the Closed bottles

If you’ve read any of my previous whisky blogs, you will have read about my friend who worked for Pernod Richard (PR). Sadly for me, he no longer works there, so the regular discounted birthday and Christmas whisky is no more. That said, the more integrity-presented whisky I’m buying and drinking as a whisky geek (46% ABV+, non-chill filtered and natural colour) isn’t well covered by their distilleries. This and my growing interest made those special occasion bottles a little more expensive for my partner! She bought two of the most expensive bottles in my collection – a Glendronarch Parliament 21yo for my 50th birthday and a Hazelburn 2010 12yo for the past Christmas. My budget has also been steadily growing, with me adding a few £100+ whiskies to add to the collection this year – an anCnoc 24yo and a Signatory Vintage Glenlivet 16yo to commemorate Ralphy’s 1000th Youtube Review!

In drafting this blog, I’ve also started 2024 with some rather extravagant purchases, even though a New Year’s resolution was to try and spend less! One of my favourite whiskies ever was a 16yo Scapa I got through the PR friend above. These are now selling for £200+, but I’d been tempted a few times last year. When I saw that The Whisky Exchange has an exclusive 19yo Scapa at Cask Strength from the distillery, I couldn’t resist, even though it was £185. Then, just a few days later, one of the newest distilleries in Scotland and the one most local to me – Falkirk Distillery – put their Inaugural Release up for sale. There are only 640 of them, and while I wasn’t expecting the £190 price tag, I didn’t feel I could miss out on owning one of the very first bottles from this new distillery, just 6 miles away!  The SMWS also seduced me with a cheap bottle and Master of Malt had an offer for two Aberlour A’Bunadh’s (batch 79 and 80) that I just couldn’t turn down!  I’d also picked up a couple of bottles from Just Whisky, an online auction site I’ve been watching for some months, but never actually won anything.  I added another Hazelburn (this one a 2008 15yo) and a cheaper Arran, and collected them from just the otherside of the Forth!  None of these are in the screenshots above, but are listed in my Whiskybase collection here.

Anyway, that’s a bit of an update on my whisky geek journey, which is still probably less than 10 years old. I’m sure it will take more than another 10 years to get through my closed bottles, especially if I keep adding to them at the rate I’ve started this year!


Tesla trip to Skye

It’s been almost a month since our first Tesla trip to Skye, and while I had good intentions of blogging about the experience while I was there, I really didn’t have the time or inclination. So this is going to be a kind of flashback, with some of the highs and lows of our first long Tesla trip to Skye.


More Whisk(e)y

I’ve not done a whisky update for a little while, and certainly missed a Christmas update, but don’t worry – I did get some more whisk(e)y for Christmas, although one was a bit of a shocker!


Christmas Whisky

Merry Christmas and a whisky New Year!  A pretty good haul this year if I do say so myself, and that doesn’t include the Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold I’d picked up myself in the supermarket with the Christmas shopping. (more…)

Norlan Glasses

I’ve been thinking about buying one of these Norlan glasses for some time, but always struggled with the price – £42 for two whisky glasses is a bit steep!  But I was buying some other glasses this week, the supplier has these on offer, and buying both together saved on a delivery charge so I treated myself to an early Christmas present!