I spent some time with Marc Pendlebury, founder and owner of WhiskyBrother in Hyde Park, recently and whilst catching up over a few drams I took the opportunity to find out more his new title as “Keeper of the Quaich” and the low-down on a new whisky show he’s put together that runs from 27-28 July 2017.
WTF: Marc, congrats on being made a Keeper of the Quaich! An excellent personal achievement, and one that SA whisky lovers can be proud of too. “One of our own” has cracked the nod! Can you tell us how you heard the news?
MP: Thank you Mark. I am deeply honoured to be a member of such an esteemed group of whisky luminaries. To be honest I’m not sure I deserve it, but I’ll take it before they realise it was a mistake! 🙂
My nominator actually contacted me prior to nominating me to check that I was comfortable with them putting me forward to the KOTQ committee. It was a very surreal phone call when the world fades away and what was happening took a few minutes to register. Then a few weeks later I received an official pack from the Keepers with a welcome letter. Needless to say I was bursting with excitement.
WTF: What whisky did pour for yourself to celebrate the news of being made a Keeper?
MP: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember! It all happened so quickly, and I’ve had my hands full with executing new WhiskyBrother projects… Maybe I should retrospectively celebrate with something nice? I’ll make it the WB GlenDronach Single cask!
WTF: For those that don’t know, can you provide a bit of background as to who the Keepers of the Quaich are and how does one get selected as being a Keeper?
MP: The Keepers are an international society that recognises those that have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry. It requires involvement in Scotch for at least 5 years. Only existing Keepers can nominate others to become a Keeper. The nomination is then reviewed by the committee and a decision is made as to whether the candidate should be invited to join its ranks.
WTF: Being appointed as a Keeper involves a ceremony right? You had to go over to Scotland for it?
MP: I did indeed, and what an experience it was.
WTF: Can you walk us through the night? Were you nervous?
MP: The induction ceremony and subsequent banquet is held at the beautiful and historic Blair Castle. As you arrive you are greeted by the Atholl Highlanders, the only private Scottish infantry regiment, that welcome you down a red carpet while piping away. That would have been enough for me for the evening, but each step in the ceremony and banquet just got better and better. I can’t divulge too much of the ceremony, but the banquet is everything you’d expect from a traditional Scottish banquet: pipe band, traditional Scottish music, Robbie Burn’s poetry, haggis and lots of great whisky.
It was the most incredible experience of my life and, honestly, for the first time in my life I felt I was part of history. (I obviously am not, but it truly felt like it at the time!) And more than anything, to experience all of that in a room full of extraordinary whisky people that I have admired for years (and will continue to until I die). People who are instrumental in the international whisky industry… for a moment in time to sit among them as a “peer”…? What! Me? No way! It is something so far from what I ever could have imagined I would experience, that I still have trouble believing it actually happened.
WTF: Did you have to wear a kilt? And did you opt to wear or go without underwear? 🙂
MP: I definitely wore a kilt! And I wore is as proudly as any Scotsmen does! (Although I did struggled a bit to put the full kit on and had to resort to some YouTube videos for help but don’t tell anyone ;)) Yes, contrary to popular belief, wearing undergarments is common and encouraged. Although to be certain I sheepishly asked a Master of the Quaich beforehand to be sure!
WTF: Got pics to prove it?
MP: Please excuse my bowtie, it was attending a different party 🙂
WTF: Now that you’re a Keeper, does that mean you can simply walk into any dunnage warehouse in Scotland and help yourself to some whisky from whichever cask you fancy?
MP: Sadly not. I went on my annual whisky tour the proceeding days after the Keepers ceremony and it was clear the usual distillery restrictions applied… although come to think of it, maybe I should have told them I was a Keeper now! lol
WTF: It doesn’t? How disappointing!! 😀
WTF: You’ve been really busy though since you’ve got back – in less than 2 weeks you are hosting your own whisky show! That’s impressive! I know it’s something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but when did the idea start becoming a reality?
MP: It was last year December that we (the WhiskyBrother team) had a look at our whisky to-do list and decided the time was right to start actively working on putting our own whisky show together.
WTF: What is the show called, and what kind of format is it taking?
MP: It is called The Only Whisky Show, and is your typical whisky show/festival, but we are focusing on the number of whiskies and trying to have really interesting whiskies to try, so that even those SA whisky-lovers who go to all the shows, still have reason to come to ours. We are also making it smaller so that it is more intimate and you don’t have to fight through crowds and feel rushed to drink your whisky.
WTF: What kind of whiskies can visitors expect to taste?
MP: A lot! At the moment we have 200+ whiskies confirmed for the show, covering most styles and types of whiskies. Our focus has been to try and get the smaller producers and brands to attend so we can showcase them more, as they are often overshadowed by the big brands who have big budgets. With this in mind we’ve made it as affordable as possible for the brands to participate.
WTF: And will there be master classes? Can you expand?
MP: There will be 3 masterclasses per night. I’m very honoured to say that we have Andy Watts presenting a Three Ships single malt masterclass, as well as Kavalan brand ambassadors from Taiwan who have a masterclass both nights. All the masterclass will have at least one whisky that is not available at the stands, but more than that it is great opportunity to experience and interact with some very knowledgeable whisky presenters.
WTF: I saw mention of something called a “Copper Coupon”? What are these?
MP: We have Copper Drams which are whiskies that are very limited (not available in SA and/or discontinued releases, etc.) that attendees can taste by exchanging a copper coupon. There are 160+ whiskies that require no coupons at all (please drink responsibly) but then we have sourced some really cool whiskies that we should, sadly, don’t have enough of for everyone.
WTF: How many do you get? And can you buy more if you want to?
MP: You get three as part of your ticket. We will be selling more at the show, but again attendees won’t be able to buy too many each. It will cost R100 per coupon.
WTF: Will people be able to buy bottles of the whiskies they taste at the show?
MP: Yes they will. We will have a WhiskyBrother retail stand which will have all our usual range as well as a few whiskies that are new and limited to SA.
WTF: Please share all the details – when, where and how can folks go about buying tickets?
MP: The easiest is to visit the show’s website which has all the details include the whisky list: https://theonlywhiskyshow.com/
I’m happy to give two of your readers a pair of tickets each if anyone is interested 😉
WTF: Oh, that’s generous of you! Let’s see how we can give these tickets away to our readers….
Win Tickets to The Only Whisky Show!
1) Enter on the website
Whisky Tasting Fellowship is giving away 1 set of double tickets via the website. All you need to do is:
a) Visit https://theonlywhiskyshow.com/whiskies/ and pick the name of a Copper Coupon whisky that you would really like to taste at the show, and then
b) fill in the Contact form or email me at email@example.com with the following information:
– Your Name
– Your Email Address
– Subject: I Want to Win Tickets to The Only Whisky Show
– Message: Your cell number so we can contact you if you’re a lucky winner, and the name of the Copper Coupon whisky you’re looking forward to trying at the show.
2) Enter on Twitter
We’re giving away 1 set of double tickets via Twitter. All you need to do to enter for the draw is:
b) Retweet the pinned tweet on the Whisky Tasting Fellowship Twitter page. That’s it!! Get a second entry if you retweet with a comment telling us what Copper Coupon dram you most want to try.
Tweet the following message by clicking here or by sending the message below through your favourite Twitter client:
WIN tickets to @onlywhiskyshow in Jhb on 27-28 July via @fr1day and @whiskybroshop. See http://bit.ly/TOWS2017 for details
You can double your chances of winning by entering on both the website and on Twitter!
The competition closes on Wed, 26th July at noon (12:00pm). Winners will be drawn shortly after that and notified via Twitter/email.
Please note: The prize is a set of double tickets only that will be emailed to the winners. Travel to and from the show at The Tin Factory in Johannesburg is at your own cost. And most importantly: Drink Responsibly.
WTF: You’re not one to rest on your laurels… What else have you got in store for whisky lovers here in South Africa in the near future? More whiskies? How do you top launching your own whisky show?
MP: We definitely have plans for more WhiskyBrother exclusive casks, including something very special which just left Scotland this week!
And… we are working on another very exciting project which I can’t disclose just yet but if all goes according to plan will materialise before the end of this year.
WTF: Sounds intriguing! Hopefully you’ll break the news with us when you’re ready.
WTF: Thanks again for taking time out of your whirlwind schedule to share a dram and catch up with us Marc! All the best for the show and beyond. Slainte!
MP: Thanks Mark. Look forward to seeing you at the show and sharing a dram. Slainte!
The Only Whisky Show – Event Details
Date: Thursday 27th and Friday 28th July (yes, next week!)
Time: Doors open at 6pm, and whisky will stopped being served at 10pm
Venue: The Tin Factory in Kramerville, Sandton
Tickets cost R450 and are strictly limited to 400 people per night. In addition to having access to the large selection of whiskies, you will receive a Glencairn whisky glass, two bottles of water, R50 retail voucher (for purchases over R300), R10 food voucher and 3 copper coupons.
Head on over to The Only Whisky Show website for more info and a complete listing of all whiskies that will be available at the show.