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EWA Alumni: Don Howarth

EWA Alumni: Don Howarth

"Tell us a bit about yourself.I'm Don, and I love the water of life! It all began for me on our regular holidays to Islay where you can't help but fall in love with whisky. I became a bit of a collector, but my bottles are all for drinking. I've been cracking them open with friends for years, and recently started hosting tastings for groups of people. They've become so popular, I've taken the next step and I'm launching southwest London's first whisky club. I'm a big believer in making whisky accessible, so there's no pipe and slippers elitism or obscure jargon: I'm all about the drams, enjoying them, and finding that perfect drop. If someone tells me they don't like whisky, it becomes my personal challenge to change their mind - and my success rate is pretty good. There's a dram out there for everyone, and want it with water, or ginger ale, ice or in cocktail, you do that! There are no rules.How did you first discover whisky?My future brother-in-law (not that either of us knew that at the time) introduced me to whisky with a Bunnahabhain 12 year old in a bar in Edinburgh. I was blown away.Which part(s) of the Diploma in Single Malt Whisky did you find most enjoyable?I loved learning more about the history of whisky and looking in depth about how it's made, but for me the highlights were the tasting elements, and of course the chat with all the other whisky lovers on the course.What made the Diploma different from any previous whisky training you have completed?I felt the course was well structured and covered a wide range of topics, and I felt the instructors really knew their stuff. I also love that I have an actual Ofqual Qualification. I haven't sat an exam in years and have to admit I was nervous. But it was all worth it!How has the Diploma helped progress your career/contributed to your professional life?The Diploma has given me the confidence to turn my passion into something more and to venture beyond tasting evenings into setting up a club where I hope kindred spirits will come and share my whisky journey.Why would you recommend the Diploma in Single Malt Whisky?It's accessible to everyone, even people who, like me, are not industry professionals. The course is full of interesting facts and information, and for a whisky lover, it's just a pleasure to be able to fully immerse yourself in the whisky world for a little while and to meet like-minded people. And with a qualification and a certificate at the end of it, what's not to love?Whisky wisdom: quick fire questions...First whisky you ever tasted?Bunnahabhain 12 year old.Best whisky you have ever tasted?There are so many amazing drams out there, but in case I haven't found the BEST whisky yet, I'm going to keep looking!Favourite distillery to visit?Any Islay distillery, but I do like to keep an eye on my cask at Kilchoman.Favourite non-whisky drink?Beer.What person, living or dead, would you most like to share a dram with?That's easy - Bruce Springsteen.Favourite whisky and food pairing?Laddie Classic and Walkers Ready Salted Crisps."
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