Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Thank You

I hope you've enjoyed the past week's series of posts in The Overnight Bestseller that chronicled my journey to The Glenrothes distillery in Rothes, Scotland. Some of you who've been following the posts are whisky enthusiasts or part of the whisky industry, and I hope you've had fun watching me experience for the first time the amazing world of spirit production, whisky maturation, and nosing and tasting. I have an enormous amount of respect for the people who know what they're doing in this field, and my hat's off to all of you. Hopefully you'll stick around and get a taste of my experiences as a crime fiction author who's constantly poking his nose into many other new and interesting things.

To those of you who are, like me, a beginner when it comes to whisky flavor notes and the influence of wood on spirit, I hope you've had as much fun as I have in learning something new and truly exciting. I hope I've piqued your interest and that you'll do some exploring yourself now in the world of single malt whisky. Once you learn to appreciate what it has to offer, there's no turning back, believe me.

I'd like to wrap up this series of posts now by thanking the people who were responsible for this incredible week.

To begin with, thanks go out to Edward Bajus, National Brand Manager here in Canada who represents Berry Bros. and Rudd. Ed was my initial contact when I won the trip and was my lifeline as everything was organized. He convinced me it was real and not a scam. "It's just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," he assured me, "and you have the golden ticket!" He answered all my questions, forwarded the itinerary and airline information to me, and reminded me that I was representing Canada to the rest of the world. Thanks, Ed, for getting me there, and I hope I did Canada proud!

Thanks go out as well to Caroline Hendry, Rothes House Manager, for making sure that I enjoyed a very comfortable and pleasant stay in the guest house at the distillery. I can assure you that I wanted for nothing and felt incredibly welcome and pampered. I'll take a shot at the salmon pot pie and the smoked haddock starters, Caroline, but I know they won't turn out nearly as well as they did under your supervision! Thanks so much for everything.

Special thanks are due to Alistair Anderson, manager of  the distillery for Edrington Group, for his kindness and patience while I trooped around his place of business with my three fellow winners. I still have my copy of The Edrington Group Induction Booklet for the distillery, Alistair, and I hope I was able to abide by all its expectations as a temporary "worker" on your watch. The professionalism with which you tempered any concerns you might have had about our presence was my first indication of what I was in store for. It was a privilege to have met you.

Thanks as well to the employees of the distillery who were so generous with their time and knowledge, and were so friendly and welcoming. I would never have guessed, from the ease with which they all handled our presence, that the distillery is not open to the public. Thanks to Craig and Graham on the production side of the distillery for their cheerfulness and willingness to answer a thousand questions. I sympathized with Graham's anxiety at being away from his control panel to show us points of interest at the far end of the still room, and I remember his relief when our questions ran out and he could go back to make sure everything was on track. It was a tribute to his professionalism and high sense of responsibility, which was consistently true of everyone on site.

Thanks as well to Paul Meldrum and Geoff, supervisors of the warehouse area, and warehouse workers Dave and Richard in particular, who I'm sure got a kick out of watching us fill our casks with new spirit and roll the filled casks around the warehouse. I see, from looking back through my posts, that I neglected to tell a particular story about Paul, who coached me when it was my turn to fill a cask. I made a point of telling this story to the videographers during my interview before I left, and I'm hoping it will make it into the final video that they produce. When the video comes out, I'll post about it and remind you all to watch for it. And also, many thanks to Geoff for suggesting that we sign and date one of the casks we filled, as proud members of the Glenrothes 2012 Vintage Moment team. This was an honour I'll always remember.

Thanks also to Brian, head cooper, whose good humour and patience made it fun to try to put together our own casks. Believe me, it was only because Brian did most of the work that I was able to pose with "my own" assembled cask. Thanks as well to all the other coopers on duty that day for allowing us to watch and photograph them while they worked.

A quick thanks, too, to Mark Ash and Callum Robertson of Frame for their cheerfulness and patience as they documented our week. A pleasure to have met you both!

I should also like to thank Berry Brothers and Rudd for this opportunity. As owners of The Glenrothes brand they are rightfully proud and protective of its reputation as a world class single malt whisky, and I consider it a special privilege to have been allowed to participate, however vicariously, in the 2012 production. Thanks in particular to Sandrine Tyrbas de Chamberet, Brand Manager of BB&R in London, and everyone else at BB&R who had a hand in this miracle.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Mr. Ronnie Cox, Brands Heritage Director at BB&R, who was our host for the week at Rothes. Ronnie's patience, generosity, kindness, and good spirits cannot be overstated as he played tour guide, babysitter, expert-at-large, and entertainment director all at once. Ronnie, it was a pleasure and an honour to have met you. I learned an enormous amount, had a great time, and will always remember your patience and unflagging friendliness. Thanks ever so much.

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