As a budding whisky enthusiast at the tender age of twenty-five, and with a penchant for facts and general whisky geekiness, the idea of a whisky tasting evening was always going to have a large and instant appeal for me. Hence when a friend of mine mentioned that he was going to be attending a whisky tasting evening locally in Manchester, I jumped at the chance to join him.

This was to be my first contact and experience with a small, independent outfit I was soon to become quite familiar with: The Whisky Lounge.

The Whisky Lounge host regular tasting events featuring a wide variety of themes and whiskies (even rums and other spirits on occasion!) in many venues and several cities across The UK. In Manchester the venue of choice is The Britons Protection situated across the road from The Bridgewater Hall and boasting the largest whisky selection in The North-West (get yourself down there!).

Now, it may seem a strange idea to order a dram of whisky immediately before attending a whisky tasting evening event, but when confronted with a selection of over 200 different whiskies from around the world, as some of you can probably imagine, it can be a pretty difficult opportunity to shy away from!

After enjoying a Linkwood single malt whisky from the Flora & Fauna series and a Jameson 18 year old Limited Reserve (both of which were nice little finds and perfect, ahem, warm up drams) in the comfortable, relaxed, traditional lounge-style bar, my pal and I made our way upstairs for the tasting.

I distinctly remember being both impressed and enticed by the setup of the tasting as I walked in; the sight of hundreds of elegant Glencairn whisky glasses containing shining liquid gold of myriad hues is indelibly etched into my mind forevermore. Resting on the glasses were hand-outs displaying maps, diagrams, timelines, facts… it was clear that we were in for an education of the mind and palate.

The evening was hosted by Joe & Eddie who guided us through each of the whiskies. The event was attended by 30-40 people of varying levels of whisky experience. While this could be challenging from a presentation point of view, the guys really nailed it, taking time to offer easy-to-understand explanations of the various topics and aspects of whisky production whilst peppering their address with enough killer facts, statistics and entertaining industry tales and anecdotes to keep whisky enthusiasts and newbies alike enlightened and engaged throughout.

It’s that blend of knowledge and passion that when encountered, no matter what the subject matter, you cannot help but be swept up in.

Eddie & Joe exhibited this combination in abundance and I instinctively knew that I wanted to get involved in working with The Whisky Lounge if I possibly could.

Post-tasting I simply approached Eddie, introduced myself and told him I’d like to help out with future events in any capacity. He told me The Whisky Lounge also run big whisky festivals and said I could be of service at a forthcoming London event…

The Whisky Lounge Festivals are a veritable carnival of all things whisky! Hundreds of attendees, dozens of exhibitors from around the world with well over 150 drams to choose from and taste, along with tutored tastings, cocktail masterclasses, blending workshops, games, competitions, all in the name of whisky! Now if that doesn’t sound like great fun to you, then I don’t know what would! For those of you who are yet to attend one, no matter what your whisky drinking preference or level of experience, these whisky festivals come highly recommended.

One dose of The Whisky Lounge Festivals, and like me, you’ll have the TWL bug for life…

…Slainté, Rupert.