Once upon a time, I was a computer programmer. I spent my days in an office, tapping away at a keyboard, creating arrangements of letters that for most people where both cryptic and uninteresting. These days, the words I type are much more recognisable, are focused on tasty drinks and generally spark more interest than pages of code. A large chunk of the blame for my change in direction can be laid at the feet of The Whisky Lounge.

Back in the heady days of spring 2010, I’d just started a drinks blog and skipped along to a new London whisky show – the Whisky Lounge’s first London excursion. Greeted by a friendly man wearing a badge proclaiming that he was ‘Eddie’s Dad’ (Eddie who?), things escalated quickly. First, Stephen Teeling, now one of the biggest names in Irish whiskey, <a href=”http://spiritedmatters.com/2010/05/cooley-whiskey-tasting-at-whisky-lounge-london/”>kicked off a love of fruity Irish spirit</a> that has lasted to the present day. I met a man called Jason B Standing who was wearing excellent trousers and was very keen to tell me about his whisky club. The son of the chap with the ‘Eddie’s Dad’ badge said hello, asked my name and hoped that he’d see me at a tasting soon. I also drank some very nice whisky and was impressed enough that I booked in to the next Whisky Lounge tasting in London. I was snared.

Now, almost exactly seven years later, this is appearing on The Whisky Lounge blog. I write about drinks full-time for The Whisky Exchange, and spend my evenings doing more booze writing and organising tastings for <a href=”http://www.whiskysquad.com/”>Whisky Squad</a>, the whisky club that my now-regular drinking buddy and occasional whisky podcast co-host Jason started a couple of weeks before the inaugural London show. At weekends I occasionally curtail my drinks ‘research’ to host <a href=”https://www.thewhiskylounge.com/our-events/tastings/”>Whisky Lounge tastings</a> and pop along to <a href=”https://www.thewhiskylounge.com/our-events/festivals/”>Whisky Lounge festivals</a>. And it turns out that this ‘Eddie’ guy is (allegedly) the man behind The Whisky Lounge. Throughout my journey through the whisky world, The Whisky Lounge has always been nearby, giving me a kick in the right direction and making sure I had something nice to drink.

I’ve slept on the floor of the Whisky Lounge house during the Islay festival, tried whisky distilled in the 1930s while looking out over a World War II bomb crater, drunk 30-year-old Caol Ila while sailing past the distillery, tasted award-winning Taiwanese whisky before it had officially made its way to the UK, discovered a love for Laphroaig, found incredible beers in York, been threatened with the wrath of God for making too much noise in a cathedral crypt, stood in doorways watching Edinburgh in the rain, made a whole host of great friends and shared some incredible whiskies, all due to The Whisky Lounge. Bossman Eddie even let me play his guitar. That’s not a euphemism and it was only once, but it still counts.

So, the fun continues. There’s a year of shows, tastings and more ahead, and I’ll be joining in where I can. My next stop is far to the west of my London home, at this weekend’s <a href=”https://www.thewhiskylounge.com/event/bristol-whisky-festival-2017/”>Bristol Whisky Festival</a>. If you’re there, come and say hello – meeting fellow whisky fans and making new friends is what The Whisky Lounge is all about.

Billy Abbott writes for The Whisky Exchange and can also be found occasionally putting words on his own blog, Spirited Matters.