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EWA Alumni: Marcus Parmenter

EWA Alumni: Marcus Parmenter

Marcus Parmenter is the European Regional Brand Ambassador for Lambay Irish Whiskey and blogger under the cover Somewhiskybloke. He shared his experience of taking the Diploma in Single Malt Whisky

What attracted you to the EWA Diploma?

At the time I was working with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) at their Vaults location in Edinburgh. The EWA had just begun and the Society had received an invitation to attend, the offer was floated to me and I leapt at the opportunity to learn more about whisky. Reading the literature that the EWA put out made me excited to attend the course and learn from the organisers, the opportunity to learn from people such as Vic Cameron was a fantastic opportunity.

What aspects of the Diploma did you find most enjoyable?

The history of whisky was of particular interest to me, as someone who has enjoyed whisky for many years having a chance to talk through the history that helped make the drink what it is today was a fantastic experience. In line with that meeting the people on the course was fantastic, I was lucky enough to attend sessions with Charles MacLean, Anne-Sophie Bigot and others, being able to speak these people, having chats with them gave me ideas for new articles and festivals to visit, whiskies to drink and ways of looking at whisky I hadn’t previously thought of.

How did the Diploma prepare you for your current role?

One of the things I’ve found during tastings, festivals, events and when educating bar staff is there is a lack of knowledge regarding the history and production of whisky, though there is a desire to learn. Drawing on the training methods from the Diploma, I have been able to share that history with those that want to learn, and it makes a large difference. In that way, I’ve helped to secure the knowledge and history of whisky in people’s minds and help our brand to be known as one that is open, educational and willing to see beyond our own borders.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into the whisky industry?

It takes more than drinking a lot and going to festivals. Do the hard work, get yourself behind a bar or into a whisky shop and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learning about whisky in all forms is the mot important thing, so you can educate people later; if you are approached by someone asking the most basic questions and cannot answer them, you’re doing something wrong. While it may seem tempting to some to simply post pictures of various whiskies and be aligned to a single brand, whisky is worldwide and your opinions and attitudes need to reflect that too. Seek out the areas you don’t know about and learn about them, by trying their whisky, purchasing books on those subjects and reading, visiting the distilleries if possible and making yourself known to the whisky community as someone that wants to expand whisky as a whole, not just someone who wants to be loyal to only one brand. And be kind to people who don’t know the basics. Remember, at some time all of us didn’t know anything. Don’t be rude to someone is just like who you used to be.

Whisky wisdom: quick fire questions

First whisky you ever tasted?
I had a taste of an old Glengoyne at an early age. The label was worn and torn and to this day I don’t know which Glengoyne it was, and though I moved from that onto Jack Daniels and Jim Beam (we were all young once) that Glengoyne has always stayed with me.

Best whisky you have ever tasted?
I’d say Heartwood Convict Resurrection. A cask strength single cask independent bottling from Sullivans Cove in Tasmania, the port cask influence is something I’m still chasing to this day.

Who is your ‘whisky hero’?
Brendan McCarron from Glenmorangie. I’ve had the pleasure of holding tastings with him and being able to sit down for a few drinks with him and the sheer amount of knowledge he has and is always willing to share inspires me to do the same.

Who would you most like to conduct a whisky tasting for, dead or alive?
Honestly, probably my family, my partner and her family all together. If I could show them how much I appreciate the support they’ve given me and how much that means to me it would be amazing to show them all the whiskies I love. Only trouble is most of them aren’t whisky drinkers. So, either them or Kingsley Amis.

Favourite distillery to visit?
De Molenberg from Belgium. Its not too well known but the distillery is fantastic, and they have a fantastic tour, starting at their brewery where they make their malt and then transfer you to the distillery, it’s all encompassing and a brilliant experience.

Ultimate bottling for your collection?
If I could go all out? Ardbeg 17, or the aforementioned Heartwood. Failing that probably a bottle from the pre-1940s, simply to taste the whisky and see how much things have changed.

Favourite non-whisky drink?
Armagnac. I find the tastes more complex than Cognac and its sadly overlooked by most people.

Favourite whisky and food pairing?
Oh, peat and meat. A nice sherry cask Caol Ila with a good fatty 'Nduja or a mutton Droëwors, now there’s a pairing that I can never pass up

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