When I was recently asked by Amanda and Eddie to do some work with The Whisky Lounge, I did not hesitate. We go back a long way and I like what they do, but there was more to it than that. As I take my first tentative steps out in to the world of freelance whisky and spirits writing, this seemed like a natural fit.
Ever since I started on my whisky journey, and realised that it was more than just a passing phase or fad, I have felt affinity with certain brands and companies in the industry. Brands and companies that have a similar philosophy and ethos to the blog and website that was created by this interest by Karen, my wife, and myself – Whisky For Everyone.
Whisky For Everyone was born nine years ago and our original goal was to bring whisky to the beginner. We were beginners ourselves and could not really find suitable information online that was leveled at us as a category. There were a number of very good whisky websites, but they all seemed to cater for drinkers with advanced knowledge and a certain level of connoisseurship.
Now, the online landscape has changed and there are many blogs, websites and social media channels out there talking about whisky. The level of exposure is unprecedented and if we started now, we would not exist in the same form. That said, we are still relevant in the current market and still remain true to our original goals.
So, what has this to do with The Whisky Lounge? Well, it is simple and goes back to my comment about similar philosophy and ethos from earlier. Amanda and Eddie started The Whisky Lounge with goals and ideas that were very close to ours with Whisky For Everyone. The main difference was that they wanted to physically bring it to people and teach them about whisky. What a job they have done.
Their festivals, which are dotted around the country at regular intervals, have long been a ‘must visit’ on the circuit and they too have remained relevant amidst the seemingly ever-increasing number of whisky shows out there. There will always be beginners or someone new to the category that needs talking to or showing the joys of whisky and the associated basics.
The difference between The Whisky Lounge and many other whisky events is that they are hosted in a relaxed atmosphere with an emphasis on education and fun. This is very important and instantly puts the beginner at ease.
Before I knew Amanda and Eddie, I remember visiting one of their festivals for the first time and thinking that it had a different and more laid back feel to it. As a result, I got more from the show. Many of my contemporaries in the whisky world have said the same.
The rest is history as they say. The Whisky Lounge has gone from strength to strength, as has Whisky For Everyone. Their festivals have expanded to be bigger and better. They also now run popular courses outside of the festivals including tutored tastings, blending workshops and a more in-depth whisky school. As things expand, it would be easy to lose focus on those original goals.
What was refreshing to see last week (when I visited TWL HQ in York) was that Amanda, Eddie and the team at The Whisky Lounge have not lost sight of that. They still have the whisky beginner at the forefront of their mind, while catering for the more knowledgeable whisky drinker too. It is a fine balancing act but one that they pull off well.
This is why I know that we are going to work well together.