HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO WHISKY SQUAD! And what a star-studded stylish bash it was.

What a swell do!  And a good-lookin’ crowd.

As promised, Thursday April 2nd saw a happy gaggle of Squad partakers of past and present converge on the wonderful Finborough Arms in West Brompton to usher in the 6th year of our informal and informative whisky tastings.

And no fewer than FIVE cakes!

It wouldn’t be a Whisky Squad without a few drams, so we toasted the occasion with a light & vivacious Bladnoch Forum 20yo Glen Ord from Jason’s collection, the sumptuous nutty & butterscotch notes of the new Arran 18yo, and finishing with the complex flavour Tour de Force of Master of Malt’s award winning Lost Distilleries Blend (batch 6).

Pizza was gobbled down with gusto, speeches were speeched, bonhomie was warmly evidenced and Dermot the Whisky Squad Dog kept a watchful eye on all visitors as well as the floor for potential scraps of anything interesting.  Thanks were generously thanksed, as we wouldn’t be here without the love & support of so many people and companies in the whisky industry.  And naturally we responsibly drank a pint or two of Jeff’s magnificently-tended selection of cask and keg beers.

So from Billy, Joel, Elise and Jason we’d like to once again say thanks to every one of you who came along & celebrated with us, who wanted to come along but couldn’t, who’ve ever been to a Whisky Squad, or presented a Whisky Squad, or is interested in either of those things in the future – this fun & awesomeness happens because you make it, and here’s to the next 5 years of just exactly that!

Photos by Duncan Ross and Toby Quirk – if you’ve got any you’d like to share/add, drop us a line or post them on Facebook and we’ll harvest/add them.

Happy Birthday to us!

On April 2nd it’ll be the 5th Birthday of the world famous WHISKY SQUAD.

For five years now we’ve been running our informal and informative whisky tastings, over 104 sessions (so far) and… well… loads of tasty & memorable drams (and some veering more towards “memorable” than “tasty”).

So we’re having a party to celebrate.

ws5bd_bannersqAnyone who’s a friend of the Squad – be it past participant, supporter, previous presenter, or had to listen to one of us babble excitedly about it at any point over the last 5 years – is welcome to attend.  Please fill out the booking form so we know how much cake to bring!

The last 2 Squad sessions of the year – and who doesn’t love coffee & randomness?

We’re now homing in on December, so to finish the Whisky Squad programme off for 2014 we’ve got a now traditional fixture, and something quite new, different, shiny and wondrous!

Whisky Squad #99: The Department of Whisky and Coffee Affairs

Coffee is a fine, fine thing – and to introduce us to a bit of coffee info we’re incredibly lucky to have snagged the attention of London coffee impresario Tim Ridley, who’ll be co-presenting a session with Billy, at the TATE BRITAIN!

4th December, Tate Britain Roastery, £18pp

Whisky Squad #100: Whisky Surprise. What? Whisky Squad #100?! How’d that happen?

Rounding out the year, our now traditional and very popular Whisky Surprise session (but then, aren’t they all?) – where entry is an optional £5 donation, and you bring along a whisky you’d like to share with the Squad.  Never to be missed!

18th December, Red Lion Crown Passage, £5.50.

Bookings for December sessions open at 9:30am Wednesday November 26th.  Usual booking policy applies.

Whisky Squad tastings are designed to be an informal and informative, fun way of learning about and tasting whisky.  Whilst not an “introduction to whisky” session, we have people of all backgrounds and facets of whisky exposure, and everyone interested in whisky is very welcome!

All New September Tastings for Whisky Squad

By “all new”, we mean that the whisk(e)y we have lined up for the ENTIRE MONTH is whisky that’s entirely new to us here at Whisky Squad!  We’ve only ever tasted one whisky from the Teeling Whiskey Company (so far), and the second September session speaks for itself.

Bookings open at 1pm Tuesday August 19th.

Whisky Squad #93 – In Dublin’s Fair City…

Authentic Irishman and Brand Ambassador (and general all-round top chap) Sam MacDonald shows us some of the exciting stuff that the Teeling Whiskey Company are up to.  Not to be missed!

Whisky Squad #94 – Off The Beaten Track

It’s not that we’re obsessed with statistics, or the past – but it struck us as somewhat difficult to believe that after more than 90 whisky tastings we *still* haven’t had one whisky from every distillery in Scotland!  In this session we aim to try to nudge a bit closer to that claim, sampling 6 that have somehow not yet made it into our impressive tally.

If you say “Bruichladdich” 3 times in a row it sort of sounds like a trumpet fanfare

Just thought we’d share a picture of the rather attractive bottle lineup from last night’s Bruichladdich-centric tasting session, led by Billy and Jason.

laddie_lineupIf you’d like to know more about these whiskies, or indeed any of the other tastings we’ve done since we started Whisky Squad, it’s all in the Drams So Far archive.

And if you’re keen to see a list of all the Bruichladdichs we’ve tasted in total (and which sessions we tasted ’em in), we’ve got that too!

In fact, last night’s session rockets Bruichladdich into the lead, as distillery we’ve tasted the most whisky from!


Two marvellous new sessions for the Eighth Month of the Year Two Thousand and Fourteen – we thought that we’d keep things fairly light and summery, but still with the depth & interest that Whisky Squad are WORLD FAMOUS for.

Whisky Squad #91: Bruichladdich, Now and Then

It’s time to turn our gaze on a single distillery, and this one’s a corker. Producing a range of spirits with very distinct and wide ranging character, we’re taking a close look at the highly distinctive Islay enigma, Bruichladdich.

Thursday 7th August, 7:30pm

Whisky Squad #92: Spirits of Summer

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy (or so they say). Some might say that whisky is more a winter drink than a summer one (who says that? let’s get ’em) but what if we proposed that whiskies have seasonal characteristics? Here’s to whiskies that are imbued with the taste of summer.

Thursday 21st August, 7:30pm

Bookings for both of these will open at 11am on Thursday July 17th – don’t miss out!

The June Tastings. Of whisky. Whisky tastings in June, more accurately. That is.

For June we’ve got not one but two guest tastings, which is wonderful news!  Both will be quite radical departures from our last few sessions (other than in the sense that they’ll come with a load of sensory stimulation and provide much to broaden our palates, minds and experiences).

Whisky Squad 87 – The Mini Whisky Dinner

Squad regulars Kirsty and Elise match and contrast a range of whiskies with a selection of nibbles & foodstuffs that they’ve picked out, or more accurately, made. Having tasted both Elise and Kirsty’s cooking in the past, this is a sure-fire winner of an evening no matter what else happens!

Whisky Squad 88 – Everybody Loves Canadians

Elise goes on to play a blinding double…  Sure we’ve looked at “American Whiskey” in previous sessions, but the USA’s northerly neighbour has almost completely been left out of our lineups.  Until now.  Canadian Whiskey’s a rich topic area, and who better to guide us in than our very own Canadian Whiskey Enthusiast.

I mean, she’s a whiskey enthusiast, and Canadian.  But also an enthusiast of Canadian Whiskey.

Yep, I’m pretty sure you got that.

Bookings for these 2 sessions open at 7pm on Tuesday May 20th.

All are welcome at Whisky Squad tastings – there’s no membership requirement:  the only thing we hope for is that you’re interested in learning/talking about whisky.


Two exciting tastings in May

Continuing Whisky Squad’s extravaganza of sensory experience & whisky education, we’re proud to announce our two tasting sessions for the Merrie Month of May!

Whisky Squad #85 – Indie! Indie! – May 8th

The characteristics of whisky casks are as diverse as fingerprints, and in this session Billy Abbott and Jason B. Standing will be looking at a selection of whiskies chosen by a cornucopia of different Independent Bottlers. What it they’re looking for? Each has access to different casks and has their own personality and views, so all up it makes for a fascinating alternate view of the whisky landscape!

Whisky Squad #86 – Brilliant Blends Part Deux – May 22nd

Simultaneously the main makeup of whisky sales in the world, and also often eschewed by people as the poor cousin of Single Malts: there’s a great deal more to blended whiskies than you might assume. Jason B. Standing intends to take the group through some blends which might change the way you think about this part of the market, or if not, at least you’ll get to try some interesting whiskies.

The May sessions open for booking at noon on Friday April 18th.


Last night’s tasting session marked off the 4th Birthday of the Whisky Squad – from those humble beginnings, we’re… well, still in humble surroundings, but we’ve put together 84 tastings so far and it’s been an absolute blast.  We hope to continue putting together & running fun tastings for years yet to come, but we wanted to say thanks to you all for making it happen.

ws4bdIt wouldn’t be a party without a cake, and Kirsty did a brilliant job with a couple of Squad birthday cakes (we may even coax her to share the recipes…), and Pooja snapped a picture of said cakes before we all crammed them into our eager face-holes.

The tasting was the “3 way jerk-off” format, where the 3 of us present 2 whiskies each to the group and there’s a vote on favourites at the end.  As Joel couldn’t make it in person (although was represented in the small shrine we built on the table), long-time Squadder Dave Haste stepped in for his presentational debut and did a mighty fine job, selecting 2 very popular whiskies…  although not quite popular enough to topple Jason’s selection of the champion of the evening – the Bowmore Devil’s Casks 10yo.  What a stonkingly yummy way to celebrate a birthday!

Billy selected 2 whiskies as well.

Well done, all.  And here’s to what the future brings for Whisky Squad!

(it’s not entirely clear how Tim managed to creep into this photo, but it’s always nice to have him along also – as he put it himself, “Those 3 look like they’ve just won the Euromilions… I look like I’ve just won a tenner on a scratchcard”.)

3 more Whisky Squad sessions to take you further on your whisky journey…

Hi all!

This month we have three fantastic tasting sessions for you to choose from, as follows:

Thursday 6th March – Whisky Squad #81 – Billy’s Birthday Treats: Squad organiser Billy Abbott selects a brace of interesting whiskies for us to taste, because it’s his birthday and he’s allowed.

Saturday 15th March – Bonus session – WS@Compass Box Blending School: Chris Maybin takes us through the art of blending as practiced by blending artisans Compass Box at their West London HQ.

Thursday 20th March – Whisky Squad #82 – There’s Gold In Them Thar’ Off-Licences!: Whisky Enthusiast, bar professional & TWE adviser Enrico Gaddoni shares with us some of the gems he’s unearthed from some unlikely places around the country.

As always, our bookings policy applies to these sessions.

Whisky Squad tastings are designed to be an informal and informative, fun way of learning about and tasting whisky.  Whilst not an “introduction to whisky” session, we have people of all backgrounds and facets of whisky exposure, and everyone interested in whisky is very welcome!