Archive for August 7th, 2012


SlickTiger Industries Presents: Project Whisk(e)y

whisky-glass I must’ve been about three the first time I tasted whisky. My mom’s tipple of choice every evening was a J&B and soda, which she would sip intermittently as she made supper.

One night she made the mistake of leaving her whisky and soda on her bedside table while she was reading, so naturally 3 year-old SlickTiger walked in and drank it.

I thought I’d been poisoned. The whisky burned like petrol going down and I turned to my mom with this look of abject horror on my face, as if to say, “You drink this?!” She explained that whisky was a grown-ups drink that my grandfather loved and that one day I might love too.

“Whatevs, yo,” I remember thinking as I staggered off to bed to pass out, “that stuff tastes like hell.”



For the next 15 odd years the smell of my mom’s nightly J&B and soda sent a shiver down my spine and though she’d often ask me to make her one, I was never tempted to sneak a sip.

It was only really in varsity that I started consuming whisky in vast quantities, but my god, the stuff we used to slam back in those days was more suited to cleaning engine parts than actually drinking.

First Watch was a favourite because it was cheap and got the job done. Bell’s was my go-to drink when I was out, always on the rocks because I thought it made me look like  a badass.

Two Keys and Three Ships were also regulars, as was Black Douglas and Teacher’s. My two buddies Graum and Van Barman were also partial to some wizzo from time to time, and so when it was one of our birthdays, the other two would chip in for a bottle of what we thought was the height of whisky sophistication and taste – Jack Daniels.



It’s laughable how naive we all were back then. In a way it was a great introduction to whisky for me because having tasted those whiskies, I had a great idea of what entry-level blended whisky tasted like.

I continued in a similar vein after varsity, drinking cheap whisky for kicks, completely ignorant of the world I was barely scratching the surface of.

My formal education in whisky started when I was 24. We’d won the Whisky Live Festival as a client and so I started working on the PR and communication for the festival.

To get us all up to speed when it came to whisky, my company at the time arranged a whisky tasting at our offices which I attended with eager anticipation as it was my first real introduction into the world of single malt whisky.



We tasted five different whiskies as part of the tasting, each one of which laid claim to a host of different flavours like “pear drops”, “cinnamom”, “honey”, “fresh-cut grass” and “peat” to name a few.

To say I was thoroughly disappointed would be a total understatement. To my untrained palette, the whiskies we sampled tasted like “whisky”, “whisky”, “whisky” and “whisky” respectively.

What a load, I remember thinking. Whoever markets this stuff is a genius to get everyone thinking that this stuff is so exceptional. Whisky is whisky. I like it, but I’m hardly about to drop more than R300 on a bottle of it if this is what the good stuff tastes like.

By my estimate, I’ve done another 6 whisky tastings since then, both when I used to work on the Whisky Live Festival and in subsequent years when I worked on Bell’s, Bushmills Irish Whisky, Johnnie Walker and, ironically, J&B.

I always quote Winston Churchill when trying to explain how my love of whisky evolved because when asked about his love of whisky, Churchill famously said, “The water was not fit to drink. To make it more palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.”



A perfect explanation because by diligent effort, I learned to like whisky too.

It started with Bushmills Irish Whiskey. In that time-honoured Irish spirit I discovered a whiskey was was easy on the palette, friendly, approachable and easy to appreciate.

From there I started branching out to smokier, peatier whiskies. The Singleton of Dufftown became a firm favourite, as did Talisker 10 y/o, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Highland Park.

I’ve made mention of my love of whisky on this site before, but never felt comfortable diving into that deep, bottomless amber pool while I still worked on whisky brands because it would throw my integrity into question.

Sadly, my days of working in the whisky industry ended when I left my previous job, but the plus side is that I can now blog about whisky until the cows stagger home, drunk as sailors on shore leave.



And so, the major stake-holders and board members of SlickTiger Industries met last week and came to the conclusion that from now on, whisky reviews will become a feature on this site.

So batten the hatches party people, by the time I’m done with you crazy kids, you’ll be hardened whisky experts who can not only hold your own whenever someone starts mouthing off about whisky, but will also (hopefully) share in my love for the greatest spirit ever distilled.

Project Whisk(e)y starts today.