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EWA Alumni: Martijn van Opstal

EWA Alumni: Martijn van Opstal

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a 34-year-old whisky enthusiast who decided to turn his passion into his career. After blogging about whisky for some time I came up with a business concept that brings exciting whiskies to bars and restaurants across the Netherlands. 

How did you first discover whisky? 

I first came into contact with whisky roughly 15 years ago. Back then, me and my friends regularly held poker nights where we would pour ourselves a glass of whisky. It was years later that I really started discovering whisky and learned to appreciate it in all its splendour. I had never spent more than 30 euro on a single bottle, but my girlfriend (who soon after became my fiancée) decided to gift me a bottle I'd never buy for myself. She got me a 10-year-old GlenAllachie at cask strength and the flavours of that whisky blew me away to such an extent that it changed the way I thought about whisky forever.

Which part(s) of the Certificate in Irish Whiskey did you find most enjoyable? 

As someone with a relatively tight budget, I greatly appreciated the ability to do this course from my own home. It's affordable, approachable, and easily accessible. Which means it was a breeze to get started.

What made the Certificate in Irish Whiskey different from any previous whisky training you have completed? 

Once again, the fact that I could do this course entirely online is what set it apart from the competition. Other courses required me to travel or even to spend a few days somewhere, which didn't always fit my schedule. This course can be easily fitted into anyone's agenda.

How has the course helped progress your career/contributed to your professional life? 

I was happy to get my Certificate in Irish Whiskey from the Edinburgh Whisky Academy because up until this point most of the courses I took focused mainly on Scotch. Personally, I love a glass of Irish Whiskey from time to time and I think it's an exciting up and coming market that I wished to learn a bit more about. The knowledge I gained here gave me the confidence to represent the category in both my product range and the tastings that I give.

Why would you recommend the EWA / Certificate in Irish Whiskey? 

I always recommend that people learn more about whisky, because – in my humble opinion – making whisky is a form of art. And, the more you understand the techniques that were used, the more you'll understand and appreciate the flavours that you can find in your glass. The more you know, the more you'll enjoy the beauty of our beloved dram. The courses of EWA are an excellent starting point to set out on that journey of discovering a wealth of whisky knowledge.

Whisky wisdom: quick fire questions...

First whisky you ever tasted?
Glenfiddich 12.

Best whisky you have ever tasted?
House of Hazelwood - The Long Marriage.

Favourite distillery to visit?
Dubhghlas Distillery

Favourite non-whisky drink?
Strong Belgian beers.

What person, living or dead, would you most like to share a dram with?
My late grandfather.

Favourite whisky and food pairing?
Bourbon and BBQ.

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