You’re a whisky connoisseur? How’d that all start?
“It started when I was an intern at a recording studio in the mid-90s. Me and the guy who ran the studio had a local bar where we’d often go to relax and talk about the musicians that we recorded all day. One day, this guy behind the bar showed me some Glenmorangie and said, ‘Man, you’ve gotta try this.’ I’d tried some blended whiskies before and they weren’t great, but when I tired Glenmorangie, I was like, ‘Wow!’ It was an eye-opening experience.”
There’s a lot of booze available out there. Why whisky?
“Everything about whisky is great. If I drink something from an old bottle, say from the 60s or 70s, and it’s been laying in a warehouse for a long, long time, it’s like I’m drinking a part of history. When I think of all that’s happened throughout all of these years, it becomes quite a big thing. I get really annoyed when I give somebody some really nice, old whisky and they just shot it. I tell people, ‘No, you have to enjoy it. Just sip it!’”
It feels like there are almost as many types of whisky as metal subgenres. Do you have a favourite?
”I prefer single malt, generally Japanese or Scottish. There’s some good stuff coming from Sweden and India. There’s phenomenal stuff happening these days, with small distilleries popping up everywhere – it’s really cool. My favourite was Glenugie, which doesn’t exist anymore. I think it was mothballed. Those bottles from the 60s, 70s, distilled in bourbon casks, are the best. But it all depends on where you drink it. Whisky’s always better when you’re surrounded by friends, having a good time. To me, it’s more of a social thing as opposed to just sitting in the dark, drinking by myself, ha ha ha!”
For you, what’s the difference between a decent whisky and a life-changing one?
“There are so many nuances to a whisky that makes it good. You have certain smells that might come from a bourbon cask that are very different from a cherry cask, and those are different from how wine or rum casks influence the favour. And of course, how long you store a whisky and where you store it are both very important. So it’s hard to pinpoint what it is about a certain whisky that creates the qualities you really enjoy but it’s got to be well-balanced. It’s like good music: all the parts have to play well together; you can’t have a band where three out of four guys are playing correctly while one guy plays a different song. That’d really bother you! Same thing with whisky.”
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If money were no object, what bottle of whisky would you buy for yourself?
“I had a Mortlach that was like 70 years old and it was phenomenal, but I think it was 6,000 Swedish kroner [£520] per centilitre. So a whole bottle costs quite a lot. [We checked this and found one for £16,000. Bargain…] I don’t know if anything is worth paying that much, though. It’s definitely a good whisky; if somebody came ’round and gave me a bottle, I wouldn’t say no.”
On a scale of 1-10, just how metal is whisky?
“Eleven, of course! Ha ha ha! It’s saved me so many times when I’ve been really sick and I couldn’t sing. I’d drink some whisky and it saved me. It’s my life elixir!”
Many thanks to The London Distillery Company www.londondistillery.com. Battles is out now via Nuclear Blast.
There are tons of great whisky-tasting courses to try out – go over to www.trulyexperiences.com to find one near you.
Enjoyed the course and managed to avoid getting White Girl Wasted? Head to www.thewhiskyexchange.com to start your own collection.
London’s Whisky Weekender takes place every April and unites budding whisky connoisseurs from around the world. Find out more at www.thewhiskylounge.com.