Exclusive Offer: 20% off whisky at The Grey Horse, Kingston

Here’s something for Whisky Squadders in South West London, or for those who are willing to travel for excellent whisky, BBQ and music (that’s everyone, right?): Sam Daffin and Leigh White, the two men that were behind such great London whisky establishments as The Wargrave Arms and The Britannia, have joined forces in Kingston-Upon-Thames, re-opening and re-invigorating The Grey Horse pub.

They have combined the live music and comedy that made the pub famous with excellent BBQ food, a great list of craft beers and a bottle of whisky from every Scotch distillery they can get their hands on – Joel has been there and gives the pub an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

If you want to check it out for yourself, make sure you show this coupon to the staff at the bar to receive 20% off the price of any whisky you order during the month of February!

New year, new Whisky Squad sessions!

That’s a wrap on 2015! What a great year it has been, with our Fifth Birthday celebrations being just the tip of the iceberg. If you would like to catch up on what went down this year and get a sneak peak at what’s to come in 2016, check out our Year In Review blog.

If you can’t wait to get stuck in to January’s whisky tastings, here is what we have planned for you:

Whisky Squad #120 – Elise’s Transatlantic Showdown

Little known fact: Elise Craft, our resident Canadian, was actually born in Scotland on Burns Night. Och aye! It might be a couple of weeks early, but we’ll celebrate both Elise and Rabbie’s birthday with a selection of drams from either side of The Pond.

More details and bookings >


Whisky Squad #121 – The Brown Spectrum Vol.5 – Bigger, Better, Browner!

Only some things stand the test of time. In 2011, our social media streams were clogged with photos of people laying on their stomachs and Rob Whitehead hosted his first January Berry Brothers & Rudd Whisky Squad session. Fortunately for us, planking is a distant bad memory while Rob is returning for a fifth consecutive January bringing with him another swag of Berry’s impressive single cask single malts.

More details and bookings >

Tickets for both sessions go on sale on Tuesday 22nd December at 3pm.

Have a great Christmas and New Year and we hope to see you in January!

Whisky Squad – 2015 In Review

As 2015 comes galloping to close, it is time to reflect upon the year that was at Whisky Squad and preview another great year in 2016.

The Year in Numbers

In 2015 we ran 19 session, tasting a grand total of 115 whiskies. The growing diversity of the whisky world is reflected in the fact that the whiskies we sampled came from ten different countries, including drams from Switzerland and Slovakia! Of course, old faithful Scotland still dominates, with around 70% of our drams coming from whisky’s heartland. For a full run-down of the whiskies we tasted this year, head on over to our What We Tasted page.

The drams are one thing, but Whisky Squad would be nothing without the people who attend the tastings. This year has seen over 100 individuals joining us for at least one session, and while we don’t keep figures on how many sessions everyone has been to (thankfully!), we do know that we have had a healthy proportion of new people come along in 2015. Our continued success hinges as much upon these Whisky Squad newcomers as much as it does our regulars, so don’t forget to invite a mate in 2016.

Just some of the drams of 2015, as photographed by Whisky Squadders
Just some of the drams of 2015, as photographed by Whisky Squadders

Our Highlights

Each year, Whisky Squad throws up some great moments and some classic drams. Billy has been doing a spot of reminiscing – here are some of his 2015 highlights:

  1. The point at the Old vs New III session where an unnamed work colleague of mine turned to me and pleaded, ‘Please let this be the new whisky, so I can still get it!’. It wasn’t. The whisky in question was Talisker Distillers Edition – the 2003 vintage, which we had at Whisky Squad, was just named The Whisky Exchange’s 2015-16 Whisky of the Year…
  2. The whole of the Indoor Picnic Session – great food, great whisky and whiskey, and a top crew attending. An excellent session by Elise.
  3. The moment in the Island Hopping session when Whisky Squad veteran Dave(y) Haste turned to our table and said ‘This is definitely not Scapa’. It was Scapa. It was also very nice.
  4. Pouring the last dram for rye whiskey fan Elise at the “What? Really?!” session and asking her where it came from. It was a Dutch Rye whiskey, which fooled the entire room, including Elise, who now owns a couple of bottles.
  5. The moment during Rob Whitehead’s “Class of ’97” session where we realised that every whisky we were tasting that night was Clynelish – astonishingly, five whiskies into a session of six drams – only to discover that the sixth dram wasn’t from Clynelish!

As for the whiskies themselves? Each year throws up a great list of stonkers and, inevitably, one or two stinkers. This year’s stand-outs included aforementioned raft of 1997 Clynelish from Berry Brothers & Rudd and another from the folks at Wemyss, the brash Millstone 2004 Single Cask Rye, the award winning new sherry cask 12 year old from Benriach and a pair of old and new Talisker Distillers Editions. I won’t name names on the drams that entered the Whisky Squad Hall of Shame, but tasting them is all part of the fun and we enjoy reminiscing about the drams that aren’t so great as much as we do the best.

All the food and whisky at our Indoor Whisky Picnic
All the food and whisky at our Indoor Whisky Picnic

The Birthday Bash

Without doubt, the biggest moment of 2015 was the celebration of Whisky Squad’s fifth birthday in April, doing so in style with a big shindig at the Finborough Arms. A packed out room tucked in to pizza, delicious cake (thanks to Kirsty Chant and Su-Lin Ong) and toasted our ongoing success with plenty of beers and few choice drams specially chosen for the occasion. In attendance were Squadders old and new – some had attended the very first session back in 2010, others had recently joined the fun.

The night really typified what makes Whisky Squad so great; a room full of people sharing a passion for a spirit that truly brings them together. No pub in the world could match Whisky Squad for the diversity of the whiskies and the quality of the company (not to mention the prices of the drams!). I have been taking part in Whisky Squad for over four years now and I have lost count of the number of brilliant whiskies I have tasted that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to try. I also have Whisky Squad to thank for many brilliant memories and for the opportunities to meet such great people, many of whom I now genuinely call friends. I even have Whisky Squad to thank for the opportunity to meet and get to know my now wife! I don’t doubt that there are many others that share similar sentiments to mine and if that is you, then I hope you continue to join us for another five years and beyond.

Birthday cake!
Birthday cake!

A Look Ahead

Without giving too much away, here is a sneak peek at what you can expect from Whisky Squad in the first half of 2016:

  • A full line up of whisky tastings – in the mix are a selection of our annual favourites, tastings with a couple of our favourite London whisky retailers, the return of the hugely popular Punter’s Choice and something a little cheesy. We’ll also be running our first premium session with some iconic whiskies to taste.
  • We will be holding more social events at various establishments around the town.
  • An online London Whisky Calendar, so you’ll never miss out on any of this city’s whisky related events
  • A sexy new look for our monthly newsletter

Keep your eyes peeled for all this and more in 2016.

Over To You

So that’s what we thought of the year and now we’d love to hear what you thought. Did you have any stand out drams or highlight moments? Which was your favourite session of the year? Do you have any session ideas or suggestions on how we could improve Whisky Squad in 2016? Please get in touch with us by leaving us a comment below, sending a tweet to @whiskysquad or sending me an email at joel@whiskysquad.com.

All that is left for me to do is, on behalf of Jason, Billy, Elise and myself, wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope your festive season is full of tasty things and a at least a few good drams. Thanks for your ongoing support this year and we look forward to seeing you at Whisky Squad in 2016.



The Burning Month Of Mo!

The Burning Month of Mo. Need we say more?

Yes, probably. Here is the low down on our whisky tasting sessions in November:

Whisky Squad #117 – Burn It!

First up this month is an homage to Bonfire Night and our bemoustached gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes with an exploration of the smoky, the firey and the rebellious.

Whisky Squad #118 – A Dram For Movember

From the sublime to the ridiculous to the just plain old patchy, it’s Movember again and at Whisky Squad we take the ‘stache, the mo, the whisky-strainer very seriously. So much so that we’ve organised a Moustache and Whisky pairing in support of WS regular Mitesh who is raising money for the charity.

Bookings open on Friday 23rd October at High Noon. Hope to see you in November!

September – The Month Of Billy

billyabbottBilly Abbott, our very own walking whisky Wikipedia, brings us a delicious double header this September. He is presenting two of our favourite formats that are sure to be a hit. Partly because they feature old whisky and sherried drams…but mostly because they are presented by Billy.

Whisky Squad #114 – Old vs New 3: Something something with a vengeance

In this third Old vs New session, we’ll again have three pairs of drams on the tasting mat, each the same whisky according to the label on the bottle, but all very different – can you guess which is which?

3rd September, 19:30 at The Red Lion, SW1Y 6PP

Whisky Squad #115 – Sherry, can you come out tonight?

In these days of austerity, hardship and greater whisky sales than ever before, fewer and fewer whiskies are matured in casks that used to hold sherry. These are the classic casks that made the great whiskies of the past, and their slow disappearance is much lamented. But not at Whisky Squad!

17th September, 19:30 at The King & Queen, W1S 6DL

Whisky Squads #114 and #115 will go on sale on Wednesday 19th August 2015 at 3pm.

Whisky Tastings for August


Another month, another couple of tastings. Look out, all the juicy detail are coming at ya!

Whisky Squad #112 – Capital of the Whisky World

Sometimes it’s nice to put all the wacky session themes aside and have a good old fashioned regional whisky tasting. So that’s what we’re doing! For the first time in our five year history we dedicate a session to a little town with a big history

6th August, 19:30 at The Ship, EC3R 7NB

Whisky Squad #113 – Dram, That’s Refreshing!

Other times it’s fun to tip the idea of a whisky tasting on its head and do something completely different. Sound like fun? Then check out this summery session, complete with whisky, BBQ and a bit of mixology.

Whisky Squads #112 and #113 will go on sale on Monday 21st July 2015 at 11am.

Whisky Tastings in June: Part 1

June is just around the corner and that means another couple of Whisky Squad sessions are rapidly approaching! We’ve got all the juicy details for June’s first tasting right here in this email.

As for the second session, well we’re going to make you wait just a little longer. Billy is cooking up something big! There is just a couple of last pieces to put in place after he returns from his Islay pilgrimage and once we have all the info we will send out another newsletter to announce the session. In the meantime, you can book on for a spot of island hopping with Elise.

Whisky Squad #108 – Island Hopping

Whisky Squad co-organiser, Elise, has been dreaming of an island holiday filled to the brim with wonderful whisky. But what kind of whisky can one find on a lump of land in the sea?

Is the sea-salty tang of a hebridean dram connected in some kind of spiritual way to it’s uisce beatha brethren the world over? (see what we did there?) Is there something about being an “islander” that gives a distiller a special perspective?

Tickets go on sale 28th May, at 11am.

Keep your eyes peeled, the second June session announcement is imminent!

February’s tasting and something a little different…

Whisky Squad’s adventures into 2015 are well and truly underway! It’s already time announce February’s session.

Session!? Surely we mean sessions!

I’m afraid not. The coming two months will only feature one session each. This is because Whisky Squad Founder and Commander-In-Chief, Jason B. Standing, has recently moved out to Bristol on a more permanent basis, meaning there is a slight shake up while we adjust. Don’t worry, Jason is still very much involved and we will still see him at sessions throughout the year, just a little less often than we are used to. He says the risk of falling asleep on the train home is just too high and he doesn’t fancy finding himself at the end of the line…in Wales!

Of course, only one session this month means less tickets to go around. In an attempt to ensure securing a ticket is fair for everyone we are going to run our own version of the Wimbledon Ticket Ballot. See the event page for all the info.

Normal, two session service will resume from April. In the mean time, good luck in the ballot and we hope to see you at February’s session, which just happens to be…….

Whisky Squad #103: David and Goliath

A debate is raging in the whisky world about size, craft, quality and the whisky marketing machine. In this session we are going to put the debate to rest with six cracking drams from a set of outstanding Davids and top-notch Goliaths.

5th February, The Red Lion, £18pp

The ticket ballot opens is now open.

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!

Happy New Year! January Sessions are here!

I bet you thought we had forgotten about Whisky Squad. Well the good news is we hadn’t, and the January sessions are here at last! We kick off, as we generally do, with a tasting hosted by the one and only Rob Whitehead from Berry Bros & Rudd. We’ll follow that up with some sweet treats from our very own, Billy Abbott.

Whisky Squad #101: Class of ’97

1997 was a very important year with many landmark events, most of them not whisky-related. This session, however, is all about whisky and 1997 and you’ll have to join us at The Red Lion to find out why.

8th January, The Red Lion, £18pp

Whisky Squad #102: Uncle Billy’s Sweetshop

Whisky Squad co-organiser, Billy Abbott, loves sweets and loves whisky…and really loves whisky that tastes like sweets! That’s exactly what he has in store for us at January’s second session.

22nd January, The Finborough Arms, £18pp

Bookings for January sessions open at Midday, Thursday 1st January.  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!