Last year, The Dalmore master blender Richard Paterson celebrated five decades in the Scotch whisky industry, since beginning his career as a production assistant in 1966. Honoured by the IWSC with the Lifetime Achievement Award 2017, Paterson reflects on his biggest year yet, and looks ahead to new hopes and plans in the coming year.
How do you usually celebrate Christmas?
Every Christmas is always spent with our close friends and family when we can all get together, enjoy some wonderful food and drink and put aside business, emails, mobiles, and just have a complete relaxing time – but also to take a little time to phone those who may be on their own! One must never forget that Christmas can also be a sad time for some people.
What would be the best drink to give or receive at Christmas?
Christmas is always a time of great celebration – therefore, what better way to start than with a glass of vintage Champagne? This is one present which never goes amiss. At the same time, I usually try and keep my whisky friends happy by giving them something new, something special – this Christmas, so many received the new edition of our Shackleton Blended Malt. On this rare occasion, I told them “found under the ice but taken over ice” – Shackleton’s great spirit truly lives on!
Which wine do you like to celebrate with at this time of year?
Although I love Champagne, my favourite drink to celebrate with on Christmas Day, along with the turkey and ham, are a few large glasses of great Burgundy, preferably Chambolle Musigny or Pommard – a total treat!
Which whiskies would you rank as the top three to try in 2018 for our readers?
This is a difficult one, especially when there are many fabulous ones out there. Putting aside my own, I would heartily recommend the Tamdhu 10 Years Old, the Balvenie 14 Years Old Caribbean Cask Single Malt, and Compass Box’s Great King Street Artist’s Blend. Each one is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered and fully appreciated. Let them glow on your palate in 2018!
How about Hogmanay – how would you celebrate the new year in Scotland?
Hogmanay in Scotland is one big celebration – the Scots love to put the old year behind them and look forward with a renewed energy to a brand new one. There are always plenty of parties with friends and neighbours or, better still, take a train to our capital city Edinburgh and enjoy this fantastic street party with music, fireworks and few large drams, to name but a few treats in store.
It’s been such a big and successful year for you celebrating fifty years in the Scotch whisky industry – what have been some of the highlights?
What a year it has been travelling to over 30 different cities around the world. It has been totally memorable meeting so many wonderful, kind people who all share in the love of Scotch whisky. During this momentous year to celebrate this landmark in my career, we produced 50 Special Baccarat Decanters which contained our rare Dalmore 50 Years Old, and within only a matter of weeks they were all sold out! This is one year I will never forget.
How about your hopes and plans for 2018?
2018 brings many new challenges for us all – none more than for the Scotch whisky industry. However, the threat of Brexit, minimum pricing is now a reality, along with many other obstacles that we will have to face. But one thing is for sure – the majority of us still believe that LIFE IS STILL FOR LIVING, and Scotch whisky will be part of that. So too is education! My passion in this area will never diminish – there are many kinds of drink out there. It is not for abuse, but if you take a little time to learn more about what is actually behind the label then it becomes even more enjoyable. If it’s matured for 15 years, give it at least 15 seconds in your mouth before swallowing it! Are you still listening to me out there?
Finally, as we’re looking forward to the competition in the new year, what advice might you give as a spirits judge to any hopeful IWSC 2018 entrant?
If you totally believe in your product, then the IWSC is for you. From the smallest producer to the largest, our sole aim is to reward those entrants who have produced only “the best”! We have a dedicated panel of eminent judges drawn from the spirits industry, who rest assured will meticulously assess every sample blind. Don’t be afraid to enter – it is indeed an excellent platform to expose the quality credentials of your products but please, please make sure the details of your products are correctly submitted. Good luck!
Read more from Richard Paterson with his top 10 whiskies for Christmas, or watch his success at the IWSC Awards Banquet 2017 here.