Global Brand Ambassador of Tullamore D.E.W, John Quinn, gave us the low-down on how to get the most out of your whiskey, some tricks of the trade, and how to get into whiskey (if you’re the uninitiated).
MS: What are your tips for a first-time whiskey drinker?
JQ: “I would always advise a first time whiskey drinker to try whiskeys from different countries and/or regions before deciding which is attractive to his/her pallet. Then start with the one you prefer – in time, you may change to a different style but you’ll always like to go back to your first preference from time to time. A bit like remembering your first girlfriend!”
MS: Any tricks for the veteran whiskey drinkers?
JQ: “No tricks (you can’t teach on old dog new tricks), but maybe be prepared to seek out whiskey styles you rejected in the past – there are many new discoveries out there now particularly with different wood finishes, which are really quite spectacular. Obviously I would encourage all whiskey drinkers to try Irish – but of course one Irish in particular.”
MS: What advice or must-haves would you consider when hosting a whiskey tasting at home? And any particular type of whiskey you’d recommend starting with?
JQ: “I always like to introduce my own favourite (Tullamore D.E.W) by way of comparisons with others – probably only 2 others. If I’m doing a ‘tasting’ (as against having a whiskey with guests) then I like to use nosing glasses, Glencairn or sherry shape – as this way the whiskey flavour profile is more obvious when nosing and tasting than by using a tumbler.”
MS: What is your favourite snack to enjoy along with a glass of Tullamore D.E.W? Or what food/canapes would you serve at a whiskey tasting?
JQ: “My favourite is probably dark chocolate, but I will usually pair TD Original with smoked salmon, the Malts with some cheeses, and the TD 12yo with chocolate.”
MS: What are some of the biggest innovations in the whiskey industry that have impressed you?
JQ: “I suppose the most significant innovation has been wood finishes (first done in the 70s by David Stewart in The Balvenie Distillery in Scotland). This has introduced a whole new range of whiskey tastes – yet they still retain that whiskey’s DNA. I am also a little careful about too much innovation in the sense that if people see innovation as breaking the basic rules applying to whiskey making (e.g ageing for less than 3 years), then this is a step too far.”
MS: How big is the whiskey market in South Africa?
JQ: Whisky is the largest spirits category in SA at 33%. To give you context, it is larger than vodka, cognac, rum and gin categories, combined and 1.3 times larger than the brandy category. Total whisky sales are close to 40 million litres every year (the industry term is 3.3 million 9 litre cases every year).
MS: What kind of a whiskey would you recommend or any advice to beer-lovers looking to dabble in the whiskey world?
JQ: “I really recommend TD Original – it’s an accessible whiskey that is also complex, given its triple x triple nature (distilled, cask matured and blend). It has vanilla sweetness, a nice apple-fruit note and some gentle spice – the best of all whiskey worlds. TD with a beer (we call it DEW and a Brew, coz it rhymes!) is fantastic for so many reasons but if for no other reason the balancing of the sweetness of TD with the bitterness of a beer is a fantastic combination.”
MS: What is the most popular or favourite Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey among men?
JQ: “TD Original if sales are anything to go by. But for whiskey aficionados they really enjoy the 12yo, 14yo Single Malt and 18yo Single Malt (if they can get it!)”
Tullamore D.E.W is available online and at all leading liquor stores.
Alcohol is not sold to those under 18 and must be enjoyed responsibly.