Way back in the mists of time, after my mum had died, and in the early days of the alternative minyan at Giffnock and Newlands Hebrew Congregation shul, there was a shabbat kiddush that – looking back now – stands out. Someone, possibly Michael Levy, produced a bottle of BenRiach whisky. Up till that point, I had tried whisky, and could take it or leave it. It was not a main interest of mine. But after sipping that BenRiach, my life changed forever. From that point on, my interest in whisky grew.
Over the years, I tasted a wide range of whisky – mostly Scotch, with the occasional foray into Canadian grain, bourbon, and Irish – and accumulated a decent collection. I fairly quickly understood how personal the connection was; while there was a lot of whisky snobbery, and marketing noise, what was important to me was the whisky I liked, instead of what people told me to like. Or told me was a so-called better whisky. And when people ask me, I make the point of explaining that they should develop their own likes and dislikes, and to be very cynical when it comes to ‘expert’ opinion.
So BenRiach has a special place in my whisky world. And it is therefore very pleasing to see that the reborn brand and its company are doing well. This shabbat, all being well, I’ll drink a wee dram in memory and in honor of BenRiach.