Having been in the business for nearly 275 years and supplied every successive British Monarch since King George III, fine wine and spirit merchants Justerini & Brooks has earned a reputation for unrivaled expertise. Now, the historic purveyor is offering aspiring Scotch connoisseurs the chance to step into its world and gain unique access to insights, tips and rare drams with a new whisky masterclass.
Led by Tod Bradbury, Justerini & Brooks’ head of rare and collectible whiskies, The Art of Collecting Rare Whiskies is a three-part online guide that will lead viewers on an immersive journey towards starting their own rare whisky collection. Bradbury, whose day job sees him charged with sourcing the finest malts for some of the greatest collectors in the world, will share his in-depth knowledge alongside key experts from across Scotland’s whisky industry.
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Speaking to Elite Traveler, Bradbury said: “Whisky has truly captured the modern collecting zeitgeist. It is such an exciting time to curate your personal collection. As the first-ever Justerini & Brooks whisky masterclass, we are hoping that the series will help individuals gain a real insight.”
From the meticulously considered decisions that take place in the distillery to produce those sought-after releases to ‘nosing’ your whisky like a pro, Bradbury will teach viewers how to begin building a collection, what bottles to search for and how to taste, as well as how to look after their all-important bottles.
Divided into three video chapters, in the first installment of Justerini & Brooks’ Art of Collecting Rare Whiskies masterclass, viewers will be introduced to the world of rare whisky, learning how to start collecting from the people at the heart of Diageo’s portfolio of fine Scottish whiskies. Bradbury will be joined by master blender Dr. Craig Wilson; senior archivist Joanne McKercher; global Scotch brand ambassador Ewan Gunn; and Pierrick Guillaume, distillery manager at Islay’s famed Lagavulin distillery.
Chapter Two is all about the tasting as viewers are invited to enjoy an exclusive tasting kit made up of coveted drams from both working and ‘ghost’ or closed distilleries. This includes Talisker’s oldest official release, the Xpedition Oak, 43 Year Old; the rich and fruity Mortlach, 26 Year Old; Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Ghost and Rare, The Glenury Royal; and ‘The Cally’, 40 Year Old, a limited release with liquid from The Caledonian, an all but forgotten Edinburgh distillery which finally shut up shop in 1988.
Through the session, Bradbury will help deepen viewers understanding of the spirit, sharing guidance on how to identify subtle nuances, notes and characteristics as well as decoding the language used when describing tastes and flavors.
In the final chapter, viewers will be invited to begin crafting their own story as Bradbury shares advice on which whiskies are best suited to viewer’s tastes and preferences, how to care for rare bottles and how to build a collection that is truly bespoke.
So what advice would Bradbury give those starting out on their whisky journey? “Taste, taste, taste and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he says. “I’ve had an old and worn notebook of my whisky observations for years now – packed with anecdotes, tasting notes, names and contacts. Your experiences will help to create your collection so ensure you get out to meet the people and see the distilleries.”
Available from the end of October 2021, the full digital masterclass three-part series including a Justerini & Brooks tasting kit and Smythson whisky journal is priced at £500 ($680 approx.)