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Welcome to My GreatDrams, a series on GreatDrams where I feature a different person from the whisky world. They might be blenders, distillers, marketeers, ambassadors, brand owners and others. The premise is simple; they answer five questions so we can get to know them better.

This week it is the turn of Sam Simmons, Global Brand Ambassador, The Balvenie Whisky

What are your top three GreatDrams?

I had to check the ABOUT page on GD to make sure you meant “my go-to whiskies” rather than “best drams I’ve ever had” so I list the three bottles that get most frequently emptied and most promptly replaced in my drinking cabinet

  • UPPER TEN
  • JOHNNIE WALKER 12 BLACK LABEL
  • BALVENIE 12 DOUBLEWOOD

 

What moments and/or memories do they evoke?

These are whiskies for when I’m feeling it’s whisky o’clock but a) I don’t want to think about what I’m in the mood for or b) there is no single malt in the cabinet I am in the mood for. DoubleWood gives me that sweet nostalgic hug that I’ve been enjoying since I fell in love with it as the first bottle I bought back in 2002. Upper Ten is cheap and cheerful blend with a generous mouthfeel and smoky backbone that I pick up whenever I am in Norway (I think it is only sold there)… it satisfies with soda, toddy, ice or neat so I unscrew it regularly. And Johnnie Walker Black does a bit of everything flavourwise and is for when my craving feels like it won’t be quenched with just one serving; usually with plenty of ice in my heaviest glassware. Twice.

 

What is the best whisky you’ve never owned? 

“Best” is always complicated, but I’d have to go with something that was not a one-off, a standard release. I dunno… probably old Highland Park, say the 25yo. Delicious the last time I tried it and I ought to seek it out again… Outside of Scotch, Yamazaki 1984 for sure.

 

What whisky would be on your bucket list and why?

Well I am sure it is well out of my price range, but maybe Lagavulin 1976? Birth year and one of my favourite distilleries… or no, crap! I want one of those old Clynelish 12yo, Ainslie and Heilbron bottlings, with the orange labels. Tried years ago and been chasing that flavour ever since.

 

What release in the last couple of years has impressed you most?

The folks at Wemyss have released some really great whiskies, big names like Ballantines, Grant’s and Cutty Sark have rekindled interest in the often (unjustifiably) dismissed blended scotch category with some excellent “next generation” whiskies (Cutty’s Prohibition, Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve or Grant’s Elements: Carbon), but it has to be either the Walker family and team at BenRiach (Glendronach and Glenglassaugh, too) or Gordon & Macphail and their Benromach that have established justifiably credible reputations for “forgotten” distilleries and wowed me with whiskies I’ve tried recently (Benromach 10, Glendronach Parliament or Cask Strength, BenRiach Solstice or the newish 10yo)

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