October 2023 Newsletter
The weeks leading up to the summer were relatively low-key on the travel front. That allowed me to put some serious focus into my writing. But I certainly made up for it when I returned from my summer break. September was packed with travel, though most trips were relatively short. First I headed to Edinburgh to get a preview of Holyrood Distillery's inaugural whisky release. Then I was in Normandy to sample St-Remy's latest cask finish release. A couple of weeks later, I was in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene denomination in Veneto, learning all about some of Italy's finest fizz. And just last week, I had the (rare) pleasure of visiting a producer much closer to home: Pinkmead Estate on the Isle of Wight, a tiny project gearing up to launch its first wine early next year.
With all this travel, the fact that I had plenty of time to write before the summer break really helped to get stuff published. In the latest issue of Whisky Magazine, you can find two pieces by yours truly. Judging a Book by its Cover explores how the aesthetics and design of luxury whisky packaging have become increasingly ambitious, making the vessel as much of a collectible as the liquid inside. Meanwhile, Ceci n'est pas un Cognac takes a deep dive into the growing whisky industry in France's Cognac region.
Still in the spirits world, my profile feature on London's Burnt Faith brandy distillery went up on Club Oenologique. And last month, Good Beer Hunting finally published my feature (complemented by my own photography) on Beirut's Elmir Brewery. I visited Elmir during a trip to Lebanon nearly a year ago. It was a short one, only three days, yet so emotionally intense that it felt like I spent an entire month there.
Stemming from another trip very close to my heart – Georgia – I shared the story of Zaza Kbilashvili, one of the few remaining qvevri masters in the country, as part of my regular contributions to the Wine Scholar Guild blog. My own photography accompanies this piece, too.
More photography complemented my feature in the latest issue of The Tonic Magazine, where I explored the importance of establishing a geographical indication for Barbados rum, its role in the country's economy, and significance in shaping Barbados' post-colonial identity.
I ventured into broader geographical indication issues in The Name Game, my first piece for Full Pour, an exciting new US-based magazine led by Lauren Buzzeo, formerly of Wine Enthusiast. I've also been quite busy with SevenFifty Daily, researching fairly technical and geeky topics. One of my latest features dives into the science behind cellar climate and its impact on barrel-aged wine, while another looks at alternative yeast strains and species that can help produce wine with reduced alcohol content. Both have been pretty tough to research, and I’m super happy with the results.
If the past few weeks have felt hectic, I’ve probably got an even busier period ahead. I’m looking forward to my first visit to Armenia later this month, something that I’ve been dreaming about for years – granted that of course the political situation doesn’t escalate further. Following that, I’ll be heading to Norwick to judge the World Whiskies Awards, a great chance to meet up with many friends and colleagues in person.