Keepers Of The Quaich – Cask Trade’s Man on the Inside

Keepers Of The Quaich – Cask Trade’s Man on the Inside

Keepers Of The Quaich

It’s the biggest honour in whisky, a highly exclusive ‘club’ and one surrounded by much pomp and ceremony; but what do we really know about the Keepers of the Quaich and how can we get in? Cask Trade finds out…

By their own admission, the Keepers of the Quaich refer to themselves as an exclusive international society. The chosen few travel from all corners of the globe to accept their medal at a ceremony and banquet held at Blair Castle, in Perthshire. The biannual events are attended by the society’s Patrons who include many Earls, Dukes and even a Viscount.

Beyond this, the rest is shrouded in a little mystery. Fortuitously, Cask Trade Board Director Colin Hampden-White has been honoured with the Keeper of the Quaich title and sheds some light on what goes on behind the castle doors.

“The Keepers recognises those who have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch whisky industry,” says Colin, who adds: “You can’t apply to become a Keeper, you have to be invited and nominated by two people who are already Keepers and one has to sit on the committee. After 15 years of being a Keeper, you can become a Master.”

Colin, who was nominated by the ‘godfather of whisky’ Charlie McLean and Diageo stalwart Nick Morgan, explains how he made the cut.

Colin and Charlie

“You have to have worked in Scotch industry for seven years and done something remarkable. For me it was the creation of Whisky Quarterly which, at the time, was the only upmarket whisky magazine,” says Colin who is one of approximately 2,500 Keepers around the world.

Colin adds: “The Keepers was established by five main companies in the late 80s when whisky was incredibly unpopular. It was set up for people to promote Scotch. Its main function today is still to bang the drum for the industry and reward the people that are doing that by asking them to become a member.”

But what of these banquets held at the spiritual home of the society?

“The biannual dinners celebrate Scotch around the world and are a way to say thank you to the Patrons. There is much pomp surrounding the events including being marched into dinner by a private army of pipers,” says Colin who says the Keepers even have their very own tartan.

However, Colin says the society is much more open these days and welcomes new members to the events which have featured many illustrious guest speakers over the years including former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and HRH The Prince of Wales no less!

To find out more about purchasing Scotch Whisky casks, contact the Masters today.

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A Drink with… Colin Hampden-White

A Drink with… Colin Hampden-White

Colin Hampden-White

From self-confessed whisky geek since his university days to becoming a wine connoisseur and making a hit Amazon Prime TV Show about drinks along the way, Cask Trade’s Board Director Colin Hampden-White shares with us some of his many interesting career highlights.

Born at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital into a military family in 1971, Colin spent much of his childhood travelling the world living in many places including Germany, Kenya and Sudan. Despite a burning desire to become a professional photographer, Colin studied surveying and geography at Edinburgh University before becoming a quantity surveyor working in Glasgow.

His passion for photography never abated so he moved to Edinburgh and persuaded The Scotsman team to look at his portfolio of work. Unexpectedly, they gave him a job where he spent a few months working on the Edinburgh Evening News and two years at The Scotsman. Self-taught, but with a lot of help from the photographers at The Scotsman, Colin shot a wide variety of different things for the newspaper, but he had a penchant for portraits.

A move to London saw Colin freelancing for various national newspapers before landing a job with the Financial Times in 2004, shooting business portraits for a year before returning to freelance life.

Wine glass

The Greatest Whisky and Winemakers

In 2007 Colin secured representation at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, and held solo exhibitions in London for the Greatest Winemakers and in New York named the Greatest Whisky Makers. His work was also exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in 2011. With unprecedented access to the world’s top wineries and distilleries, Colin was then asked if he would start writing about the producers crafting the products.

Colin says: “A friend of mine worked for Farr Vintners and I was invited to photograph the Bordeaux En Primeur campaign with them. I went to Bordeaux and photographed winemakers and did the same in Champagne and Burgundy. Very quickly I got a very expensive palate!”

Dividing his time between photography for the likes of Vogue Italia and writing for Lux, owned by Darius Sanai the Editor in Chief of Conde Nast, Colin improved his wine and whisky knowledge by attending as many trade tastings as possible.

Colin says: “I spent two years improving my wine knowledge and joined the Circle of Wine Writers which gave me access to the tastings, and I learned off of as many people as I could. Initially, I went through the typical journey of old-world wine – Bordeaux followed by Burgundy – and then I started to discover new-world including California, Argentina, and wines from Australia in the Barossa and McLaren Vale.”

Colin Hampden-White judging whiskies

Whisky in Words

Colin became friends with Krzysztof Maruszewski the owner of a wine investment company called Stilnovisti, who wanted to start a whisky publication. Whisky was started in Poland and Colin became the editor. In the same year, he also had the idea for Whisky Quarterly and was the founding editor when it launched in 2015. Whisky Quarterly was a luxury magazine, initially printing only 1,000 copies going to super-high net worth individuals.

By now, Colin was already a judge for the International Wine & Spirits Challenge. He then became the Chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers, where he helped to encourage a younger, more diversified and international membership. In 2016 he was honoured to be invited to become a Keeper of the Quaich in recognition of his service to the whisky industry. In 2021 became a member of the Worshipful Company of Distillers.

The Three Drinkers

Like all good ideas, the brainchild for The Three Drinkers television series was born over a dram or three at Milroy’s with co-hosts Helena Nicklin and Aidy Smith, who had a desire for digital communication.

“Once I had met Aidy and I learned he was doing a video on social channels and I knew Helena wanted to do some video work, I thought those two should work together,” explains Colin who says the trio knew someone at Amazon who really liked the concept for the show.

Colin adds: “We sat down and thought about how we were going to make it. I had an idea to go to all the people I had met in Scotch over the last six years, pitch it to them and raise the money. The executive producer is a very good friend of mine and he managed to pull in the talent behind the cameras to make it happen.”

From concept to launch was just nine months and The Three Drinkers is now in its second season on Amazon Prime.

Colin, Charlie MacLean and Director Lee

Joining Cask Trade

Colin joined Cask Trade soon after the company launched in 2019. As a Board Director, Colin initially helped with a degree of quality control and, as the company expanded and needed greater supply, he started to help source casks. Now, Colin has the enviable task of tasting samples of whisky, rum and Armagnac and sharing his notes with the Cask Trade team and customers.

Outside his role with Cask Trade, Colin divides his time between London and Sussex with his wife Caroline and is a judge for many prestigious industry organisations including the World Whisky Awards and Scottish Whisky Awards. He is also a consultant to other wine and whisky companies providing them with content, video, and writing.

What bottles can be found in your recycling bin?

Alongside the many bottles of sparkling water essential for hydration, Colin has recently enjoyed a range of wines and whiskies from around the world. With around 900 bottles in his temperature and humidity-controlled home storage room, and more bottles stored in bond, Colin has a wide variety to choose from.

Fox Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, McLaren Vale, Australia

1991 Single Malt Islay from The Wine Society

Kentucky Owl for St Patricks Day Bottling

Viking Wines 2002 from Barossa, Australia

Volnay Premier Cru, Domaine Perrin 2009, Burgundy, France

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 1999, Bordeaux, France

Bodegas Caro 2000 (1st vintage made) Domaines Barons de Rothschild, Mendoza Argentinian

Donnhoff Riesling Spatlese 2000, Germany

As much as I love whisky it is also my work. If I don’t want to analyse and intellectualise about whisky then I will always reach for a Johnny Walker Black Label served as is, or maybe with a little bit of water,” says Colin who has also recently been enjoying tequila and grapefruit tonic, a twist on a Paloma cocktail.

Colin enjoying a wine

What do you like most about Cask Trade, and why should people invest in Whisky Casks?

“My two favorite things about Cask Trade are the people and the transparency. What you see is what you get with us, there’s no smoke and mirrors. This is important when it comes to whisky cask purchasing.Whisky casks are able to take you on an emotional journey as well as a profitable one.” says Colin.

To find out more about purchasing Scotch Whisky casks, contact the Masters today.

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Colin Hampden-White is Appointed to The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Colin Hampden-White is Appointed to The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Colin Hampden-White

Cask Trade Director, Colin Hampden-White has been made a liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, adding to his list of expertise including Keeper of the Quaich, a judge for the Whisky Awards and his role as a key member of the Cask Trade team.

The Worshipful Company of Distillers is a convivial fellowship and its key objectives include being the hub of the spirits industry, supporting education and vocational training, and raising money for charitable causes.

Colin says he is delighted to have been appointed a liveryman. “The Company is great for networking with other people in our industry and raising money for charity, but charity is the main thing. The fundraisers are a good way of having fun whilst donating to a good cause,” says Colin who hopes to join a sub-committee later this year to help raise the profile of the Company on social media.

Representing all corners of the world of spirits from distillers, retailers and writers, there are a number of stages to being admitted as a Liveryman of the Company. Initially, candidates have to be eligible for admission by one of various methods including obtaining the Freedom of the City of London.

The Worshipful Company of Distillers hosted the inaugural ‘One of One’ Auction last year raising £3.1 million for charity.

Over 40 exceptional whiskies and experiences found new owners from all over the world when the first in a series of auctions under the banner ‘The Distillers One of One’ took place at Barnbougle Castle near Edinburgh in December. The auction was organised by The Distillers’ Charity, the philanthropic arm of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, in collaboration with Sotheby’s.

Colin with his Proposer and Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers
(Colin with Jonathan Driver, his Immediate Past Master, previously Proposer and Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. Taken at the Signet Library in Edinburgh).

The Worshipful Company of Distillers is a Livery Company of the City of London granted Royal Charter in 1638. There are currently 110 City Livery Companies, each numbered according to precedence, primarily based on the date of foundation. The Distillers’ Company is ranked number 69.

Colin was the founding editor of Whisky Quarterly and is a judge for the International Wine and Spirits Competition and the World Whisky Awards. In 2016 his contribution to Scotch whisky was recognised and he was made a member of the Keepers of the Quaich. In the same year, he was elected Chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers.

Colin is a presenter on the global TV Show: The Three Drinkers on Amazon Prime.

Cask Trade is delighted to be represented within The Worshipful Company of Distillers and looks forward to supporting its mission and charitable endeavours in 2022 and beyond.

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