They all seem to have one thing in common: The belief and desire to help anyone on their whisky journey. In my opinion it is what sets them apart. Although Oliver and I befriended each other on Facebook and Twitter we had not met in person. He advised me in late 2012 that he was coming to Canada and I was elated. Of all the people I looked forward to meeting, he was at the top of that list. I find his sense of humor quite hilarious and he's got a great palate/nose that I highly respect. So, meet with did. He came to the Victoria Whisky Festival in January and we spent much time together going to some of the same classes or simply hanging out afterward. Mr. Klimek is almost 100% the same personality you get to see on social media and that means much to me. It is simply refreshing to meet someone face to face and have their personas match the virtual world.
Something I suspect is a tradition between bloggers or friends is to bring whisky samples when travelling to meet others and so of course we obliged as well. We exchanged samples in Victoria and I came home with several lovely little 50ml sample bottles.
It wasn't until April that I had a chance to start opening them. I came across one marked Johnnie Walker Red - 1960's. I recall staring at it and thinking WTF? Then I remembered the conversation Oliver and I had. He felt that the whiskies from days of old were sometimes 10X better than the whiskies of today. Having never tasted them, I think I was skeptical. Whisky is whisky, is it not? Well, not really...
I discovered by doing a head to head with JW Red from today against the JW Red of the 60's - Not even close... and I've discovered that a few times since. Lot 40 Canadian whisky, Greenore 8 Irish whisky, Talisker & Macallan's 10 year old bottled in the 70's, etc...
And so dram #4, Johnnie Walker Red from the 1960's started a new obsession for me... Try the whiskies from the yester' years. Don't mistake what I'm saying: Not old whiskies... but whiskies bottled in the "olden" years.
In November another opportunity presented itself when Igor Kossov took Graham and I aside at Whisky Live Toronto and said: "No... no, come over here and meet Joe". The next thing I know we have a date for the next day at the Via Allegro restaurant with Igor.
Igor explained it was an amazing place to see/try some interesting whiskies. Sounds cool I thought. The next day when we arrived with Rick Culver, I got out of the car seriously thinking we were at the wrong address. It was a non-descriptive strip mall with several store fronts... "This is a special place for whiskies??" I was very skeptical until we walked in.
With over 1000 whiskies in their collection, needless to say I was in whisky heaven. They brought over the book (which was thicker than the Gutenberg Bible) and Graham and I proceeded to look and drool over the immense catalogue. After much deliberation and a bit of help from Igor we all settled in with food, espresso, whisky or a combination thereof. It was a full afternoon of relaxation, fantastic company, amazing whiskies and most importantly great conversations. I feel like we've known Igor for years. He is beyond wise, smart as whip and truly a whisky enthusiast and lover. In my heart, he is the epitome of a Malt Maniac. So between he and Oliver my eyes were opened and my nose/palate introduced to some lovely whiskies from days of old. Yet another memorable experience that affected me deeply for 2013. Back to that Johnnie Walker Red from the 60's. IT WAS DELISH. (I can't even swallow the stuff from today?!!)
I wish you all the opportunity to try something that was made/bottled in those early years. They are truly a rare and beautiful experience to have, even more so with friends. Here's to the days of yore!