Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WhiskyCast & Whisky Live Sydney

Podcast's are a great way to hear enthusiasts talk about their passion. Some are put together professionally by radio networks and other organisations...but most are the outlet for individuals who feel they have something valuable to add to the online 'audio-savvy' community.

I want D.T.W.C. members to embrace podcast's. With this in mind I thought it pertinent to write something about my newest discovery, Mark Gillespie and his WhiskyCast.

The show is produced out of New Jersey, on the east coast of the States. Having spent some time living in Summit (NJ), I do feel I have some kind of kindred-spirit-connection-link to this podcast. The show runs for about 30mins and has a simple format: an intro, a whisky news-flash, followed by an in-depth interview with someone in the whisky industry (whether bourbon, Scotch or rye, etc). The show ends by reminding listeners about upcoming tastings and events worldwide.

I actually highly recommend anyone attending either the Sydney Whisky Live 2009 Expo, Master Classes or Dinners to listen to Episode 207 (see archives, MP3 or iTunes). This episode features an interview with Doug van Tienen, the organiser of the inaugural event in Australia and he talks about what to expect at the event. Some interesting observations I made are:

(1) The Expo could be affected by the GFC, with most of the larger whisky companies cutting their marketing budgets and choosing not to come all the way out to Australia. Having said this, Diageo and Beam whisky brands will be present. However don't despair, the good news is that many smaller boutique whisky producers/distillers will be present, such as Arran, Edradour, Duncan Taylor, Penderyn (Welsh), Tullibardine, Nikka (Japanese) along with the Australian single-malt producers, some French distillers, I assume Irish and bourbon-whisky distillers. Interestingly, the Expo will also include whisky blends, which seems to differ from other Whisky Live events held throughout the world.

(2) For those attending Master Classes, these are many and have been geared for restaurateurs, retailers and consumers. Restaurateur classes have been specifically designed to assist owners with the development of whisky menus to suit their restaurant. Retail classes will focus on whisky sales, with an emphasis on education and recommendations. I can only assume the consumer classes will focus on drinking and appreciating whisky! The Whisky Dinners target the suburbs, with around 17 restaurants throughout Sydney offering up a whisky-inspired degustation menu with around eight courses...and presumably eight whiskies.

(3) The 6 Australian whisky producers will be present (most from Tassie and one from WA & Victoria). This number is set to increase over the coming years with new distilleries awaiting maturation of product. Listen to the conversation on Australian whiskies. The gospel is that Australian single malts are identified as scotch whiskies in blind taste tests, with the tasters unable to name the Scottish location! Obviously because Tasmania isn't a region of Scotland!

(4) Johnny Walker is to apparently blame for Australia's high taxes on spirits. It's early success in this market meant governments were 'forced' to introduce higher tariffs. I can only assume to assist local producers and competition against the distiller. As with most sin-taxes, they are easier to introduce than to remove, which is why Australia is now the second highest taxed country in the world for spirits (only Israel is higher).

To subscribe to the podcast click here or go to iTunes and search under podcasts for WhiskyCast. Subscription is free.

If you are attending Sydney Whisky Live 2009, I would suggest also listening to Ep186, which includes tips for surviving your first whisky tasting!

Everything in my body wants to go to the inaugural event, as I will think it will be something really special. I hope this article at least goes someway to getting members excited!