28 February 2014

Whisky Insiders Interview - Martine Nouet


Food and Spirits Journalist


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I have been a journalist for 35 years but I started writing about whisky and all spirits in the early 90’s.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Can I give three? Meeting Michael Jackson and becoming friends with him, being made a Master of the Quaich in 2012, and more recently being offered a superb portrait of Laphroaig by a whisky aficionado in Canada, after my Art and Whisky seminar to thank me for sharing my knowledge and passion. I have just told the story on my blog.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I remember the first time I drank whisky at a party and the disaster which followed, when I was only 18 years old. I prefer not to mention the name of the whisky.

My first dram as such was a Caol Ila 12 Year Old, which I enjoyed at the distillery, looking over the Sound of Islay on a rainy day with a beautiful rainbow joining the two shores. Since then Caol Ila features as an aromatic rainbow in my sensory memory.

What does whisky mean to you?
Whisky has changed my life. It has brought me to the UK, made me discover Islay, made me challenge myself to write in English and made me meet wonderful people who are so proud of their art. It has also helped me to re-discover myself through a sensory itinerary.

When I savour a dram, I savour Scotland, its culture, its landscapes and its people. Now having travelled round the world, I appreciate other cultures in my glass. What a great life!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Tough question. Firstly I’d like to still be alive and living on Islay. There is definitely one word which will not be in my vocabulary “retirement”. I’d easily see myself more involved in personal writing and running a cooking and tasting experimental workshop on Islay.

What was your last dram?
The new Glenmorangie Companta, which I tasted for my website and also for Whisky Magazine.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I'm definitely not good at choosing “one” choice. That goes with my personality I think. I am pluridisciplinary (and not well-disciplined). The easiest and immediately rewarding pairing I recommend is oysters with a few drops of Laphroaig. Of course there are plenty of winning pairings with sweets; Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or and a nougat glace, who would say no?

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
It really depends upon the moment and the mood. I never have a dram just by myself, I like to share with friends and I more and more enjoy “outdoor drams”, especially by the sea. My idea of “whisky on the rocks”.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I am quite amazed at the way distilleries have mushroomed around the world and of course in Scotland. So I think we will see more and more emerging boutique distilleries, maybe in the way that microbreweries have developed. That will have an impact on the big players I am sure.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
The next one!

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