I have spent a couple of days in Scotland with Johnny Walker, Director of Wines and Spirits for Malmaison, Hotel Du Vin and De Vere.
Johnny is highly knowledgeable, award winning wine character with more then 30 years experience in the wine and spirit trade. I truly had the best experience of the year so far. Johnny is the most fascinating person that I have ever met. He has passion, energy and happiness all the time.
The first day, in the morning we had coffee at Hotel Du Vin in West End of Glasgow, One Devonshire Gardens before our visits to the Distilleries.
The first distillery visited was Auchentoshan which is a Single Malt Whisky in the west of Scotland www.auchentoshan.co.uk . Auchentoshan practices triple distillation, it gives a final spirit strength bof 83% ABV and a more delicate flavour than many Scotch Whiskies.
Maturation is in ex-bourbon barrels and ex-sherry butts. Special bottlings are released periodically, including the oldest, a 50 year old Auchentoshan distilled in 1957 and released in 2008. The distillery has a visitor centre and conference facilities, both completed in 2005, and is open to the public for tours.
12 years old – aromas of toasted almonds, caramelised toffee, marmalade, dried fruits, citrus and orange peeled, smooth and delicate.
3 years wood – maturated in American bourbon, finished in Spanish Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, aromas of dark fruits, hazelnut with a long and smooth finishing.
18 years old – matured in American oak, aromas of ripe citrus, white pepper, has a full flavour good texture.
The second visited was Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Whisky www.glengoyne.com , situated near Lock Lomond close to Glasgow, where we have spent more time tasting and looking the masterclasses...
17 years old - gold colour, aromas of sherry and Christmas pudding, fruit - raisins, ripe apples. Very rich whisky, slightly nutty, orange peel and oak. Long and rich finishing with spicy oak.We had a great surprise to receive this bottle as a gift with our names printed on the label!
Johnny most likely does not realize but, the experience will remain with me for a very long time. He passed not just knowledge about wine on to me but, wider knowledge about life in general.
Thank you for your time and kindness during the pass couple of day. It was greatly appreciated, cheers!!!
The annual Roger Naylor Hospitality Skills Competition took place on Tuesday 28th April at Westminster Kingsway College, London.
From scores of entries, 16 finalists comprising eight chefs and eight front of house waiters from across the RA business, took centre-stage to demonstrate their skills and compete for the top spot in front of a panel of industry-leading judges.
Having been paired into eight teams, the chef and front of house partners has a week preceding the event to agree their four course menu, complementing wine choices and overall style of presentation.
The highly anticipated final commenced with a Champagne pouring challenge, where front of house waiters were tasked with pouring eight equal flutes of Champagne without revisiting a glass, in front of a full audience.
The Chef judging teams comprising Michel Roux Jnr, Andre Garret, head chef at Galvin at Windows restaurant, Tom Matterface, executive chef for Roux Fine Dining at Merrill Lynch in New York and 2005 Roux Scholarship winner Mathew Tomkinson.
The Front of House judging teams, comprising Silvano Giraldin, Jack Scott, founder of Jascots Wine Merchants, Edward Griffiths, deputy master of the household Buckingham Palace and Johanna Wimmer from Westminster Kingsway College.
The 2009 winners were then announced: Lewis Linley from Barclays Capital took the top spot in the chef category and Simone Sylvestre from Accenture led the way in front of house.
The annual challenge promotes the best in kitchen and front of house skills and has grown on the success of previous years with outstanding food, exceptional service and standards that would rival some of the finest hotels and restaurants in London. The competition is named in memory of Restaurant Associates former executive chef, Roger Naylor, who passed away in April 2003.