21 May 2020

Whisky Insiders Interview No. 103 - Michael Henry



Company:
Loch Lomond Group

Job:
Master Blender

Website:
lochlomondwhiskies.com



How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I’ve been in whisky and beer for 25 years now. I started as a student working at The Old Bushmills Distillery when I was studying Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt, before working in beer for ten years with Bass in Belfast and Tennents in Glasgow, before then moving to Loch Lomond in 2007.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
The final day of The 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush was an unforgettable experience for me. Being a partner to such a high-profile event is a real statement of intent for us, as we establish our single malts and being able to bring our whiskies home to the north coast of Ireland was very personal to me. The highlight was the Sunday when an Irish golfer was leading, the atmosphere was amazing and most of all my wife and son were there to share it with me.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
It was Bushmills 10 Year Old, when watching the Irish teams play in what was then the Heineken Cup with my dad and his friends. It was always brought out when any of the Irish teams won…. and when they lost!

What does whisky mean to you?
It’s a celebration best shared with family and friends.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years' time?
I see myself continuing what we have started with Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia. It’s been an exciting last five years and I think the next five years will keep going on a similar path, where we look to build our core expressions and continue the success of our special releases, like The Open golf releases for Loch Lomond and the Campbeltown Festival Editions for Glen Scotia.

What was your last dram?
Bains Single Grain. It has a great balance between the refined corn character of the spirit and sweetness from the double bourbon maturation.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
It would be Loch Lomond 18 Year Old and barbequed steak. The 18 Year Old has a sweet and smoky character that compliments the charred flavours from barbequing the steak.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
In my parent’s kitchen back home with my dad, sharing any Loch Lomond expression.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I think consumers are becoming more aware and interested in distillery character in Scotch whisky. There is growing interest in how the starting grains – malted barley, wheat, rye etc influence spirit character together with younger age statements where the maturation part of the process has had less influence and you can taste more of the individual distillery character. At higher ages there is more understanding of how refill wood and less active casks can allow you to experience more of the distillery character that is unique to each individual distillery.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Loch Lomond 12 Year Old is my favourite dram. I love the balance between the different flavours, the fruit character from the yeast and long fermentations, the background sweetness from the American oak and the softer peat character that we get from our straight neck stills.

Many thanks to Michael Henry. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!