Friendship and bar-hopping with whisky nerds in his hometown in Hong Kong are the two things that first ignited Sales & Marketing Executive John's passion for whisky...
How long have you worked for Cask Trade? "I started in September 2020."
What first ignited your passion for Whisky? "Friendship. It all started a few years ago; I use to go bar-hopping almost every other day back in Hong Kong. Gradually became very good friends with some local whisky lovers and bar owners. Some of them have later become mentors of my whisky journey, and I am always grateful for that. Whisky is our common language and it is simply an inseparable part of my life now."
What are your top three favourite Scotch whiskies and why? "Bowmore "Bicentenary", #315, 56.2%, bottled for Federico Minetti. To me, this bottle represents the pinnacle of whisky-making - unrivalled distillate from 1960s Bowmore, perfect balance of age and cask influence. It was also a pioneering move to bottle this at cask strength single cask at that time (1979). A truly captivating liquid gem, powerful and explosive, a symphony of phenolic fatty peat, exotic fruit bomb, quince jelly, brine, with an oily body like an ointment that cures everything."
"Ledaig 2008/2018 53.3%. This is the first cask I have ever bottled myself - sentimental value, and of course really good liquid as well!"
"Port Charlotte 2011 Single Cask. Also a first - the first cask I bought from my boss Simon Aron! This cask is still maturing gracefully in Scotland, I truly believe Port Charlotte is producing very promising whisky, that could potentially become legendary malts. There are often malty notes, dry hay, oiliness, farmy hints accompanied by ashy peat smoke in Port Charlotte - no wonder some connoisseurs call Port Charlotte "mini-Brora'!"
What are your top three favourite World whiskies and why? 'Hanyu' 131.2" 'Magic carpet in a sweetie shop' bottled by the SMWS. A magical whisky indeed, you either love it or hate it. It is very heavily sherried which I am normally not particularly fond of, but this bottle presents waves after waves of savory sherry notes: leather, tobacco, liquorice, plum jam, dried dates... the list goes on and on!" "Teeling 1991 49.8% bottled for The Whisky Exchange. This is fruit punch and liquid dessert - pure fruitiness and happiness." "Smögen 2011/2019, 62.2%, OB single cask for Sweden. An intriguing young whisky from Sweden. It surprisingly resembles an aged Highland malt - gentle smoke, oily, minerals, sandalwood, and hints of yellow fruits. Very interesting!"
What are your favourite flavours? Which aspects of whisky are the most important for you? "There are a few flavour profiles that hit the sweet spot for me: guava and ripe mangoes for fruity whiskies; lapsang souchong (woodfire-smoked black tea), kippers and tar for sherried peaty drams; I also particularly enjoy whiskies which I describe as having "old-school" Highland genes: beeswax, dry hay, minerals and a hint of smoke. I can be annoyingly picky when it comes to whisky!"
Your favourite whisky cocktail? "A Talisker 10 yo Mint Julep - if you're putting up with Hong Kong's heat and humidity you probably would have picked the same. I prefer using Talisker to the traditional bourbon, the extra maritime and peppery twist makes it a perfect summer cocktail."
Whisky with water or straight cask strength? "Why not both?"
What do you like most about Cask Trade? "The people! Before I joined Cask Trade I was actually a customer, and I was deeply impressed by the team's ethos, expertise, and most importantly an unparalleled passion for whisky! I still remember the first time I visited Cask Trade's office as a customer. I spent the whole afternoon there having really geeky chats over great drams with the team - I guess this would be the best testimonial ever?"
Why should people invest in Whisky Casks? "We live in an ever-changing world now; more and more people are considering investing in whisky casks as an alternative to more traditional investments. Whisky cask investment has coupled an enjoyable hobby with promising expected returns. Most importantly it is truly an unforgettable experience - being able to taste, sample, or even bottle your investment!"
To find out more about what Cask Trade can do for you, don't hesitate to contact the team today and let's talk whisky!