If anyone has wondered where I’ve been this week the answer is on a course. The advantage of working in the wine trade is that our courses tend to be all about wine, or in this case ‘Distilling Knowledge A Professional Guide to Spirits and Liqueurs’. The week has been blessedly light on the corporate shenanigans that all the other poor souls on courses and conferences in the hotel seemed to be undergoing. Weirdly they seemed to be enjoying themselves anyway.
The venue was a hotel in the middle of a golf course somewhere in the wilds outside of Reading. All it really had to recommend it was a lot of biscuits everywhere, they were attached to little coffee stations but I’m not counting those as I seem to have inherited my mother’s aversion to hot drinks out of paper cups. The biscuits however were very nice and saw me through the long train journey back.
When I tell people I’m off on one of these things there seems to be an idea that all I’ll be doing is sitting back and imbibing – well in the words of the frighteningly well informed Master of Wine (it’s a real thing) ‘you can swallow on your own time, at work you spit’. Its good advice as well as generally guaranteeing a slightly uneasy laugh at 8.30 in the morning when you’re faced with the first 6 samples of raw spirit of the day. The samples keep on coming (and I spit religiously as well as trying to maintain a lady like demeanour which is I admit all but impossible, and not something I’ve yet mastered – after 12 years). It’s surprisingly hard work and very intense. But fun.
It all ended with an exam, which fingers crossed went okay, but basically all I’ve read for the last 2 weeks is Dave Broom’s ‘Distilling knowledge’ I’m very grateful to Mr Broom for making a frequently dry subject; I’ve struggled a bit to find some of the finer points of barrel size and related legislation really gripping, on the other hand the finer points of how stills actually work is fascinating so it came out alright. Anyway it seemed unfair on a book that’s been such a feature not to give it an honourable mention especially when it’s a good one even if it is a little niche.