Richard Paterson noses a glass of whisky with his now famous words “hello, how are you?” He is the master distiller of Whyte and MacKay, a much loved character, and known in the trade as “the nose”. He is at the González Byass bodegas in Jerez with his Sherry counterpart Antonio Flores, IWC Best Fortified Winemaker in the World, tasting each other’s product. The two have known each other a long time and meet at least twice a year when Richard comes to select the Sherry casks in which most of his whiskies mature.
Commercial relations between González Byass (est 1835) and Emperador-owned Whyte and MacKay (est 1844) go back over a century, but the encounter between these two titans of the whisky and Sherry worlds is special, perhaps unique as it is the presentation in Jerez of the single malts Dalmore and Isle of Jura, for which GB have just been appointed Spanish distributors. Not only that, but this is one Richard's most important stops on the world tour W&M have organised in homage to his 50 years in the whisky business. He is now considered a member of the González family, and he and Antonio created a real pleasure for the senses at the gala dinner the bodega organised for him.
In the presence of GB president Mauricio González Gordon and vice president Pedro Rebuelta and a select group of journalists, Messrs Paterson and Flores touched everyone with their passion for their unique products, the secret of their excellence and the search for maximum quality which both firms share. The two men are an example of the long standing symbiosis between Scotland and Jerez, and GB still have the receipt of payment for Sherry butts by W&M dated 1915.
Dinner consisted of a menu maridaje (tasting menu) proposed by Richard and Antonio, each dish accompanied by a whisky and a Sherry, from structured, muscular Highland malts to saline nutty Sherries via lighter, elegant blended whiskies to the personalities of malts from Jura and Speyside. Paterson presented Dalmore 15 years old as the aperitif before sitting down to a piriñaca salad with monkfish and langostines accompanied by Speyside malt Tamnavulin and Fino Tio Pepe. This was followed by ravioli of mushrooms, ibérico pork and foie gras and accompanied by Palo Cortado Leonor and Isle of Jura 16 years old. The main dish was fillet of beef cooked in Alfonso Oloroso, and this was matched with Apóstoles Palo Cortado VORS. Dessert was chocolate mousse with mandarin ice cream and Oloroso Dulce VORS Matúsalem, and Richard offered Dalmore 50 years old, a super-exclusive limited edition in celebration of his 50 years in the whisky trade. This incredible whisky was aged in a variety of casks: Bourbon, Sherry, Port and Champagne, but sells at a staggering 57,000€. There will only be 50 decanters of this nectar available.
Both Richard and Antonio have a gift for communicating their passion and entertaining their audiences. For Richard, every visit to Jerez is full of new surprises and discoveries because “González Byass is like an Aladdin’s cave, full of incredible treasures”, some of which he had found the previous day, to the dread of Antonio, who said humorously that his links with Richard are a “love-hate relationship”. Love in the sense of sharing wonderful moments with someone who really understands these things, and hate because he wants to take every cask which catches his eye. The evening drew to a close with one last surprise; the presentation to Richard by GB of a bottle of the firm’s Añada 1966, now almost unobtainable. It was 1966 when Richard began in the whisky trade.
To see Richard in action see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW1te_miu5I
To see Antonio in action see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB2aLOUaTsU (Spanish)