Legends of Whisky: Angus Macraild

If you have travelled at all the Whisky Trail you have encountered some place or another Mr. Angus McWhisky. A true expert on vintage bottles and probably the bestestest rare bottles “opener” on the planet. He is a freelance writer and trust me if you need any text concerning Whisky he is your man, a walking encyclopedia and superb writer. I first saw him many years ago at Serge’s 50th birthday party, he was playing a guitar and played better than me so I immediately disliked him. He also runs a dissacrative very NON PC blog which you have to read….whiskysponge.com

well, here we go, we asked him the ususal 5:

This is just wrong…

1: When I was very young  probably about 5 years old – we were living in England. I missed Scotland and as a result was really interested in everything Scottish – food, music, books and such like. My Dad would occasionally have a bottle of whisky around the house. Peaty whiskies were his preference and Laphroaig was his favourite. I remember being allowed a small sip of Laphroaig from his glass and just being totally blown away by the flavour. From then on I was fascinated by whisky, I would read about it and later – when I was old enough – started to buy bottles myself and seek work in the industry. The rest, as they say, is history.

2: The desert island question is always a tough one (why can’t we just make it Islay instead?) ((Islay is not desert yet Angus. ds)) I’d want something legendary that I’ve always yearned to try and I know would be a totally stellar dram  let’s say Laphroaig 1967 Samaroli. But then again I’d need something easy and purely pleasurable for everyday drinking; how about a litre of 80 proof old Springbank 8 year old from around 1970, that should do the trick. Thirdly, something historic and totally unknown like a bottle of genuine Stromness or Glenfyne single malt. Then again, ask me again tomorrow and my answers might all be different… (OK, i will ask you tomorrow then. ds)

3: My great passion in life – possibly even greater than whisky – is writing; I love to write and I’m very fortunate that it is now my work. Beyond that I love good food, I love to cook, I love to go walking in Scotland, I love wild swimming and I love my guitars and to play them. I love films as well, my degree was in film studies so I love going to the cinema and discovering new films. Most of all I love the people in my life: my friends, my family, my girlfriend. They’re the things that really make the world worth living in and whisky worth drinking.

4: Don’t ‘decide’ to collect. Only get into whisky if you really love it. Taste the stuff, go to a good bar and ask for interesting selections and information on why they taste the way they do. Inform yourself, learn your tastes, hone your passion. If you love whisky you will understand it far more quickly and easily. Don’t just collect bottles for the sake of it. Buy whiskies you love, love and respect the liquid first and foremost and your collection or selection of bottles will grow organically, naturally and in a way that gives you most enjoyment and pleasure. Make your love of whisky social rather than introspective.

5: I would make the industry less focused on the principles of yield, efficiency and pure profit. I would refocus production efforts away from just being about wood and concentrate on making great, characterful distillates again. I would change the mindset around production and profit to see that it is better to make slightly less of a product and make it to a far higher standard of quality than constantly sacrificing quality in the name of quantity. But, of course this won’t happen because in capitalism the accountants rule with very sharp pencils and whisky is very pure capitalism these days. I’d be happy to see some new distillery projects embrace these kinds of ‘grand cru’ principles though. And I’d be happy to pay for their whiskies! (Dornoch anyone? Shhhh…..ds)


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