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Meet our whisky wiseman, Jack

Meet our Jack. While he may be from Sheffield, his knowledge about whisky could rival even the truest of Scotsmen. And that’s why you’ll usually find him right next to our whisky wall, ready to point you in the right direction when it comes to over 80 different drams.
His official job title is Meikle Bar Supervisor, but he takes on the role of our whisky expert out of sheer passion, and we couldn’t think of a better man for the job. Today, he’s agreed to share a little of that insider knowledge with you, so let’s hear about all things whisky, from the expert himself. Take it away Jack…

What’s the craic about Jack?
I’ve worked at Crieff Hydro for two years, one month and five days. I left Sheffield the week after I turned 18 and moved to Exeter, where I did my degree in Anthropology and Archaeology. I got my first bar job at 18 in a very low end, two-for-one cocktail night club, and have worked in bars ever since. I moved here as I needed a change from the sunny south, so figured that coming to the other side of the island was my best bet! Plus I knew how prestigious Crieff Hydro was and wanted in on the action.

What’s your favourite whisky cocktail?
I adore the classics, so it has to be a ‘Rob Roy’. Preferably using Glendronach 12-year-old, just a wee dribble of Martini Rosso and a couple of dashes of orange bitters. Stirred until it’s ice cold, and served on the rocks.
Are you a believer that ‘the older the whisky the better’?
This is a tough one… to be honest, no, it all depends on the whisky itself. There are more and more whiskies being released that have no defined age statement, but that stand up to the likes of a 25-year-old Bunnahabhain. So for me, not at all.

Have you been to any distilleries?
I’ve visited Deanston and Glenturret distilleries, the main highlight for me is literally seeing the process of making the spirit through each stage. I’m a massive geek for this kind of thing, so the more knowledge I can cram in, the better. Plus, seeing it helps me so that I can talk about it to our guests.

What makes a great whisky?
Any great product needs to have the finest ingredients, which in turn need to be treated with the utmost respect. If something is made with care, attention, skill, and with feeling, then it’s always going to be great.
Is there any truth to the ‘one drop of spring water to activate the flavour’ line, or is it just hyped up poser nonsense?
Yes, it’s true! But we’re talking literally 2 or 3 drops, like 2ml max. Any more and you’ll kill the flavours altogether. Adding a couple of drops ‘tames the dragon’ so they say, opening up the bouquet of flavours.

What whisky training have you done and what did you learn?
I’ve had a lot of whisky training here at the Hydro! I did some training with Laphroaig, and with the knowledge I gained from this, I was able to conduct tasting sessions for our guests. Learning about the processes involved in creating the spirit, opened my eyes to the beauty that is this whisky. I’ve done training with Glenfiddich and in turn learnt how to mix this in cocktails. Plus training with Glengoyne and Tamdhu, helping me write menu recommendations using the various age statements.

Jack’s top 5 whisky recommendations…

Whisky Bar

1. Glenfiddich 15 years old

Percentage – 40%
Vintage – 15 years
Region – Speyside

On the nose – Heather, honey, vanilla
On the palate – Marzipan, cinnamon, ginger and oak
Finish – Sweetness.

Aged in oak sherry casks that are never emptied and have been kept half full of whisky since 1998. This warm and spicy whisky is one of the top 10 best selling single malts in the world and you only have to try it once to know why.

Whisky Bar

2. Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Percentage – 48%
Vintage –
Region – Islay

On the nose – Toffee, rum and raisin, nuts and a slight zestiness
On the palate – Packed full of sweetness with a fiery kick
Finish – Gradually becomes fruity with a faint peaty smoke

Laphroaig is a love it or hate it whisky. But this expression doesn’t carry the massive hit of TCP and smoke that the 10-year-old does. It’s aged in a quarter cask which therefore means far less time is required for it to mature. But this young whisky is still packed with flavour!

Whisky Bar

3. Glengoyne 18 years old

Percentage – 43%
Vintage – 18 years old
Region – Highland

On the nose – Apple, pineapple, toffee and a hint of cinnamon
On the palate – Oily citrus notes lead to cinnamon, walnuts and sweetness
Finish – The fruit and nuts fade to a spicy finish

This whisky is one that you can come back to and find something new both on the palate and on the nose. Some days the sherry cask notes will come through, others you’ll get more citrus. It’s certainly a favourite.
Fun fact – Their distillery grounds are apparently haunted by a past distillery manager, who ‘after a few too many drams, drowned in the distillery’s loch in 1899.

Whisky Bar

4. Bunnahabhain 18 years old

Percentage – 46%
Vintage – 18 years
Region – Islay

On the nose – Sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce
On the palate – A malty nuttiness with a touch of salt
Finish – Dispersing of spice and woodiness

Some people say that Islay whiskies are bad because they’re all peaty, but in every expression of Bunnahabhain, whilst having a touch of peaty smoke, it is simply a background note that you really have to search for. It’s an excellent beginner’s whisky!

Whisky Bar

5. Glenmorangie 18 years old

Percentage – 43%
Vintage – 18 years
Region – Highland

On the nose – Nuts, toffee, vanilla, crème brulée
On the palate – Grapefruit, orange, honey, cream
Finish – Smoky nuts and fruits

An award winning dram, that has stood the test of time. And no wonder, as it takes you on a deep and complex flavour journey through every sip.

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