25 March 2011

Whisky Insiders Interview - Dominic Roskrow

True Spirit

Writer & Company Director


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
About 10 years, and another 10 years in the drinks industry before that.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Having a five page feature in an issue of The New York Post's ipad newspaper app The Daily this month is definitely up there. It looked amazing. But I think I would have to choose the publication of my book, The World's Best Whiskies, published six months ago. I wrote it 'live' without notes or reference books, in three very intense months. It's far from perfect but it is accessible, original and personal.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
No. My first taste of whisky was from putting my finger in my mum's drink. That was in the 60s and it was probably Johnnie Walker. A whole dram? Wouldn't have a clue.

What does whisky mean to you?
I have had a great life for 10 years because of it. I've been to places I'd never been to before, particularly Kentucky. I've met many, many great people, and I've been given opportunities I could only have dreamt of. So my initial reaction is it means everything to me.

But you need a sense or perspective. I'm 50 this year and whisky has been a major influence for just a fifth of that time. I've been a journalist for 28 years and have been visiting Scotland since I was born. My wife has been in my life for more than 20 years, both my boys for longer than whisky, Leicester City for 45 years, REM for 30, The All Blacks for nearly half of it, Ritchie Blackmore for 35 years...whisky's nowhere near...but that said, once you make the team, I won't drop you...and right now whisky's my number one striker.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Right where I am now, though spending less time on the hamster wheel, with a greater proportion of my income guaranteed by regular work, and in the process of planning a trip to Barcelona for Leicester's Champions League quarter final clash. Look, you're allowed to dream, okay?

What was your last dram?
I'm having it now. It's from Thomson in New Zealand and it's a 17 year old single malt from The Willowbank Distllery. It's very good but I can't say too much as I'm tasting it for Malt Advocate as part of my new role covering World Whisky for the magazine.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I have a few. Nick Morgan got me hooked on Lagavulin and blue cheese, I love a big Laphroaig or Ardbeg with chili or some spicier curries, and the Irish chef Paul Rankin taught me a great dark chocolate mousse and Bushmills dish, egg free, which is great as I have an egg allergy.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Saturday evening, when Leicester has won and I'm cooking for friends or the family. I like the family close by, some good rock music on the stereo, and time to potter in the kitchen with a large whisky to hand.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Quality aged grain and New World whisky from Asia and Australasia. But also coming over the horizon are countless non-whisky malt based spirits as a new wave of distillers rip up the rule book and 'do a Blumenthal' to spirits. Many will be rubbish, but many will add colour and variety to our lives.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Naughty! That's just the 'favourite whisky' question in disguise. I can live without any whisky because there are plenty to alluring beauties to cry on the shoulder of should one of my favourites pass on. I'd have an extended period of mourning if Laphroaig 18, Talisker 18, Ardmore, George T Stagg, or Rittenhouse Rye passed on.

Many thanks to Dominic Roskrow. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!