A Blank Canvas, a James Bond party & a wild imagination @RockwellCpt

What a cool spot and something to think about for your next event.

Here is the press release from The Rockwell  reservations@rockwellhotel.co.za / events@rockwellhotel.co.za
021 421 0015 (Sammy-Jo / Amanda)

 

“A BLANK CANVAS TO LET YOUR IMAGINATION RUN FREE

Cape Town’s contemporary urban design landmark, The Rockwell All Suite Hotel & Apartments located in trendy Greenpoint, has devised a unique concept that truly aims to “let the imagination run wild”.

A new 280m² room at the heart of the hotel, appropriately named “The Blank Canvas”, enables organisers of weddings, events, launches, parties and just about any social gathering to let their creative juices flow by “dressing up” the chic space as they see fit.

r 1

The unique concept has already drawn the attention of scores of imaginative Capetonians, who have used the venue for Casino Royale and other James Bond-themed evenings, fashion shows, poker evenings and of course, the Mother City’s trendsetters.

r 2

And it is no surprise that the city’s comedians and entertainers have already approached The Rockwell to enquire about this enterprising – and very different – new venture.

The “Blank Canvas”, in her “naked” form, is finished with an uber stylish checkered black-and-white floor and exquisite chandeliers that hark back to a bygone era.

The Rockwell is widely known for its concepts, and management believes that this latest offering will perfectly encapsulate the adventurous, creative spirit of South Africa’s most cutting-edge city.

The space will also be “dressed up” to showcase all its potential as a venue.”

Whisky, letting go and perfection in a glass. @GlenGrantSA @ThePotLuckClub

Comparing whisky to children is perhaps a simile on steroids but listening to Dennis Malcolm talk about the Glen Grant 50 year old Single Cask whisky is like to listening a father talking about his Nobel Peace Prize winning eldest child. There is modesty and pride and a sense of contentment that comes from seeing ones creation doing well in the world.Dennis is the Glen Grant Distillery Manager who laid down a cask of whisky more than 50 years ago. He nurtured it, then, at the perfect time, he let go.

gg50
The Glen Grant 50

Releasing ones children into the world can be a harrowing experience. Ask a mother dropping off her son on the first day of school, or a father dropping off his teenage daughter at a party. With dancing. And boys.  We nurture and then we let go. And letting go is the natural step we have to take to allow children to flourish.

LB1_9437
Dennis, Kellee, whisky lover.

A few weeks ago at The PotLuck Club, the coolest spot in Cape Town, Dennis let go of his eldest whisky and released it to an enthralled collection of media folk and whisky lovers.

aa249DSCN2072
Dennis, centre, with Bernard, Anita, Patrick Leclezio and Marsh Middleton.

So – what’s it like? The whisky is superb. It entices with a colour of of an antique hand-polished mahogany desk and invites with an aroma of toffee, chocolate, orange zest. A word of warning. The whisky was bottled at 54.4 ABV, straight from the barrel, through muslin cloth, to the bottle. It is a big whisky, but balanced. Layer upon layer of deep, rich complexity, a beautiful sherry, toffee, coffee, and remember the Beacon Superfine orange peels dipped in dark chocolate? Yes, those. The taste took me back. The finish is long and lingering, to be expected, but surprisingly sweet.

1.Celebrity Chef
Aubrey Ngcungama with Bonnie Mbuli.

The fact that Dennis came down from Scotland to present the whisky shows how seriously importers Edward Snell are taking the Glen Grant brand. Local brand manager Craig van der Bergh shared the pride he has representing the brand, with regular expressions, The Major’s Reserve, (the best value for money Single Malt on the market today), award winning 10 year old and my regular after dinner choice, the 16 year old.

LB1_9731

The whiskies are becoming more and more popular in our whisky loving South Africa, and that makes me happy. It was great to see the dynamic Kellee Hodges, the junior brand manager and most energetic person I know in the whisky world, sharing her knowledge and passion, and the new national brand ambassador, Muzi Mathe, looking forward to talking whisky around South Africa.

Alan Muzi Bernard
Whisky legend Alan Shuman, Muzi Mathe, Bernard.

What about the food? The PotLuck Club is such a special spot and it was a treat listening to master craftsmen Dennis and Luke Dale-Roberts explaining the interplay between food and whisky, intensity and delicacy, working in harmony.

249DSCN2042
Dennis & Luke

Now, where to get the whisky? While the Glen Grant range is available at most liquor outlets, the 50 year old is only available at Makro, (check out their new online store) and there are just two left in South Africa. It retails at R 169 000.00. If you have the funds…buy it. Call me. I’ll help you open it.

The menu
The menu

A final thank you to the PR team that organised the event, Magna Carta, who were there in full force.

Dennis Malcolm

Bernard Gutman

Tour the Constantia Wine Route in style

Jane Austin recommended wine from Constantia for its “healing powers on a disappointed heart” and the same wine eased the exiled Napoleon from this world into the next. So whether you are broken hearted, happily in love, in-between romances, on holiday in the most beautiful city in the world or a homegrown Kaapenaar there is a day of wine and fun waiting for you.

Have a look, go and book.

constantia wine tour

“Our tour of the Constantia Wine Region, the first wine region in South Africa and the oldest outside of Europe, takes in a blend of historic wine estates and newer, boutique wine farms that have sprung up in the last 20 years. (There are now 11 wine estates/wine farms in Constantia and it is impossible to visit all of them in one day.)

Sauvignon Blanc is the signature wine of the region,17 different styles of which are produced, but there is a wide variety of wines, both red and white, to suit all palates.

1. We collect our guests from their place of accommodation at 0930, or any alternative time (post rush-hour) to suit, in our air-conditioned, luxury mini bus that seats up to 8 people.

2. The tour starts with an overview and introduction, over coffee and refreshments, at Steenberg Wine & Golf Estate, which affords a panoramic view of the geography of the whole Constantia Wine Region.

3. From Steenberg, we proceed to Groot Constantia for a tour of the historic Cape Dutch manor house that was the original home of Simon van der Stel, the first governor of the old Cape Dutch Colony, who planted the first Constantia vineyards in 1685 and who owned the entire region in those early days.

4. First wine tasting at High Constantia, a boutique winery with first bottling in 2000, but whose vineyards date back to 1693. Famous for its Clos Andre Cap Classique, and superlative Bordeaux blends.

5. Second wine tasting, by way of immediate contrast, is at Buitenverwachting or Klein Constantia, historic wine estates with Cape Dutch manor houses, whose famous wines need no introduction.

6. Wine tasting and light lunch (inclusive of wine) at Constantia Glen, a boutique winery noted for its outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux blends.

7. After lunch, wine tasting at either Buitenverwachting or Klein Constantia (depending on which one was not visited before lunch).

8. Final wine tasting and re-embarkation into a 4 wheel drive (weather permitting) at Eagle’s Nest, a boutique winery with the steepest gradient vineyards in Constantia, which afford breathtaking mountain views.

9. Return to place of accommodation at + – 1630. (NB: all times are flexible, depending on time taken at tastings, lunch etc. We aim to accommodate our guests at their own speed and leisure, rather than watch the clock.)

Costs are R1150 per person, inclusive of all refreshments, wine tastings, for which all Constantia wine estates/farms charge varying amounts of between R40,00 – R50,00 per person, the history tour of Groot Constantia Cape Dutch manor house (the only historic manor house in the region that admits the public (for a fee), lunch, transport of course, pick-up and return to place of accommodation.

Please call me on 082 377 5233 to discuss your own particular requirements, dates, times, pick-up points etc. Alternatively, give our office a call on 021 7944 873

Best Regards

Blake Gowar”

The highlight of my whisky life @GlenGrantSA #GlenGrant50 via @cheek2chic http://issuu.com/cheek2chic/docs/cheek2chic_issue_5#

This story first appeared in Cheek to Chic, a superb online magazine

I want to share with you the day that was the highlight of my whisky life. In ten years of talking whisky around the world I’ve had many people ask me for my job. I suppose it sounds glamorous: the travel to exotic destinations; five star hotels; seven course dinners and of course, the pleasure and privilege of drinking rare whiskies, some that cost way more than a luxury motor car.

But whisky people are different. We are happiest in the quiet times, sitting alone with our thoughts and a glass of history, or with close friends and a bottle of something special. After years of festivals and airports, we can become jaded. I was. I needed something special to revive the romance, much like an old oak cask, filled once to often, I needed to be rejuvenated and restored. And a few weeks ago I got what I needed, and a lot more.

The week started with Saturday at Old Trafford, the home of my beloved Manchester United; Sunday, the final day of the British Open, from the luxury of a hospitality tent; then four days in Scotland, the a search for the Loch Ness Monster (no, we didn’t find it), a day in the countryside – clay pigeon shooting, 4 x 4 driving and archery – and of course distillery visits.

It was a week to take the bucket list, tick off a few things, but ultimately to enjoy what that time; patience; skill and dedication bring to something as simple and as complex as whisky.

At a glance, it was an average day, a small group of whisky lovers sitting in a warehouse in Scotland enjoying a wee dram. But it was far from average. A group of whisky lovers from South Africa went along to the Glen Grant distillery in Rothes, in the northern part of Scotland. The person pouring the whisky was Dennis Malcolm, a 53-year veteran of the whisky industry. The whisky was The Glen Grant 50 Year old. Some perspective in today’s world of instant gratification: On the 28th October 1963 Dennis hand filled the cask; on the 25 November 2013 he decided that the whisky had reached its high point and released the cask for bottling. How many of us can comprehend the patience needed to do that? How many of us would give in to temptation and want to share that special spirit, perhaps before it was ready?

The whisky is spectacular. But more than the taste, the colour, the aroma, the most special part of the day was immersing myself in the history of the distillery. Walking through the lush gardens along a path to a waterfall where there is a safe built in to the hillside. In the safe we found whisky and crystal tumblers. To the whisky we added water from the stream, perhaps much like James ‘The Major’ Grant did a century ago, after his hunting trips into Africa.

Drinking a whisky that was distilled before I was born gave me a sense of history. It was not the oldest whisky I’ve ever had, but it was the oldest, by some years, that I’d enjoyed with the person who filled the cask.

There were only 150 bottles produced, 15 came to South Africa, 10 have been sold, 3 are on display and 2 are being sold this Xmas. R 150 000 will buy you a piece of history and a lot of love. And if you buy it, give me a ring, I’d love to share it with you.

Slainte.

Bernard Gutman

Bold Bunnahabhain and a treat of Toiteach @BunnahabhainSA #TasteIslay

13 LR
Maritime theme…a porthole!

It’s always entertaining when Pierre Meintjies takes the stage and talks whisky. After 40 plus years in the booze business Pierre knows how to showcase his whiskies. It’s pretty easy to do that when he is talking Bunnahbhain to an eager crowd of assorted journos, wine people and whisky wonks (term devised by Neil Pendock). The occasion was the unveiling of the Bunnahabhain display at Bascule Whisky Bar.

05 LR
Shane, thinking, Marsh, laughing, Pat, wondering…

I’ve written a few times before about Bunnahabhain so have a read here about the non (or un) chill filtered range. Its one of my favourite whisky ranges. Liquor giant Distell, based here in the Western Cape own the distillery. This strong link has already reaped rewards, in the form of a real treat, the Bunnahbhain Toiteach, not available here in South Africa.

The whiskies are, of course, superb, but you knew that, dear reader. The evening ended with a lively debate between the winos and wonks about corks and screwcaps. The outcome was lost in the mist that rolled in off the ocean. A good night.

The PR company was quite busy and sent me two releases, copied below. If you want to try something from Islay and don’t want to be hit by the peat reek, Bunnahabhain is the whisky for you. Importantly, the whisky provides great value the 12 at R580; 18 at R 900; R2 600 for 25-year-old.

All this talk of whisky…what about love? Congratulations,  Mazaltov and Slainte to Anel & Jan, a very cool couple and couple of wine lovers, who got married a couple of days ago in Las Vegas!  Here they are enjoying a Bunnahabhain.

03 LR
Jan & Anel

 

“BUNNAHABHAIN SINGLE MALT TASTINGS AT BASCULE DISPLAY THE GENTLE TASTE OF ISLAY

 

A few Capetonians were recently treated to a series of exclusive tastings of the luxurious Bunnahabhain range of single malt whiskies at the Bascule Bar. Specialising in premium whiskies of the world, the bar at the Cape Grace Hotel, now has a customised display cabinet showcasing the brand’s award-winning whiskies.

The range of gentle, unpeated single malts is made at the Bunnahabhain Distillery on the Isle of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland. The whiskies are un-chillfiltered for the purest expression of colour, aroma and flavour.

South Africa’s “Mr Whisky”, Pierre Meintjes presented the un-chillfiltered range that is fast building a cult following amongst whisky aficionados. He is one of just 159 Masters of the Quaich in the world, a title conferred by the Keepers of the Quaich and only one of two in South Africa. The honour is conferred in notable recognition of their contribution to the Scotch whisky industry.

Taygan Govinden, the brand’s SA marketing manager, says: “To contrast the unpeated profile of the range, Pierre gave guests the rare opportunity of tasting a peated single malt, made in very limited quantities at Bunnahabhain. This rare peated Bunnahabhain, named Toiteach, is not available in South Africa, but provided a fascinating comparison.”

12 LR
Pierre, Lizanne (brand manager) & Taygan

 

The price of Bunnahabhain ranges from R580 for the 12-year-old, to R900 for the 18-year-old and R2 600 for 25-year-old.

BUNNAHABHAIN FAVOURED BY SA’S STYLE SETTERS

The gentle taste of Bunnahabhain’s connoisseur range of Islay single malts is very much to South Africa’s liking, says Taygan Govinden, marketing manager of this specialist range in South Africa.

“It has developed something of a cult following amongst aficionados, partially because of its relative rarity but also for its singular flavour. Its taste profile is quite unlike the peaty, smoky single malts traditionally associated with Islay. That’s because Bunnahabhain is the only producer of single malts on the island to use a natural spring water source and unpeated barley in the production of its whiskies. It’s untainted by Islay’s peaty moors and so, is lighter on the palate.”

Something else that marks Bunnahabhain as distinctive, he says, is that it is un-chillfiltered.  “This marks a return to a very traditional technique and the reason is that it expresses the whisky in its purest form with a full depth of colour, aroma and flavour – as natural as when it comes out of the casks.”

Despite being a relative newcomer to the highly contested South African single malt market, the range is fast gaining ground, he says. “Stocks are limited but available from strategically identified specialist outlets catering to single malt enthusiasts. Any news of the range’s awards always heightens interest in this market.”

The 25-year-old, at the apex of the locally available range, won gold at the 2014 International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC), while the 12-year-old took double gold at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which also awarded a gold to the 18-year-old.

Bunnahabhain, founded in 1881, is pronounced Bū-na-ha-venn and means mouth of the river in Scots Gaelic, referring to the Margadale River that flows close by.

Un-chillfiltering is the way whisky was made before chillfiltration was introduced in the 1970s, primarily for cosmetic reasons. During chillfiltration the temperature of the whisky is dropped to 0°C before forcing it through filters which remove the fatty esters. This produces a “polished” whisky that offers consistency of colour and, when bottled at 43% alcohol by volume, does not become hazy when chilled. But the trade-off is the absence of some of the flavour and character in the final whisky.

The price of Bunnahabhain ranges from R580 to R900 to R2 600 for its 12-, 18- and 25-year-old whiskies respectively.

Follow Bunnahabhain on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BunnahabhainSA or Twitter https://twitter.com/BunnahabhainSA

Join the conversation using: #TasteIslay”

 

 

Thoughts on: The Glenlivet Guardians’ Chapter @theglenlivetsa @iantheguardian

The always genial Ian Logan is the international brand ambassador for The Glenlivet and goes around the world talking whisky. We last met over a coffee at Madiba’s feet in Sandton Square during Whisky Live and caught up again at The Mansefield in Scotland a few weeks ago. I asked him about The Glenlivet Guardians’ Chapter Limited Edition whisky, a newish offering from Chivas.

Ian said he enjoyed the process of having whisky lovers around the ChapterLtdEdBottleCMYKHRworld try three different expressions and vote for one for eventual bottling. Something like democracy, whisky style, I suppose. I didn’t raise the issue of the then upcoming Scottish referendum, our conversation staying on whisky, not politics. A dram later Ian continued with shepherding his group of Ambassadors from Taiwan round Elgin.

With the whisky world becoming increasingly competitive this sort of innovation is a good idea. It works not only because of clever marketing, but, as whisky lovers expect from The Glenlivet, it is a very good whisky. Like more and more new releases it has no age statement and I’m not going to hazard a guess as to its age. There are mature notes and at 48.7 ABV the whisky packs, what I’ll call, a gentlemanly punch. Perhaps more chocolate and spice than the average Glenlivet, if there is such an animal, the whisky delivers enough complexity for an after sunset drink, even a nightcap, on a warmish evening.

It is worth looking at and adding to your collection, especially if you are a fan of limited editions.

Price: at around R 1 200 it is fair value, I suppose, for a limited edition, certainly better than the more expensive Alpha, but the 18 year old Glenlivet for about R 1000 or 21 year old at R 1700 are very good alternatives. The Glenlivet 12 should be in every whisky lover’s collection, superb at R 400.

Here is the press release giving more info.

 

Johannesburg, South Africa. - The global whisky community have spoken. The votes have been counted. The results are in and the winner has made its way to South Africa.

That’s right! The long awaited The Glenlivet Guardian Chapter limited edition single Scottish malt is here after thousands of whisky lovers across 37 countries (including South Africa) voted to select the Guardian Chapter Limited Edition crafted just the way they like it. The winning selection is the “Exotic expression” as the distillery reached out to its loyal followers.

After votes were counted, this first crowd-sourced The Glenlivet single malt was bottled and distributed in limited quantities to countries around the globe.

The search to find a winning expression began in September 2013. Three expressions (called Exotic, Classic and Revival) were handpicked for a global tasting tour where admirers sampled and voted for their favourite. The expressions were selected to challenge drinkers, provoking debate over which would become the first single malt in the distillery’s 190-year history they could influence the taste of.  

A series of special evenings in London, New York and Mumbai were staged. Labelled the ‘Expression Sessions’, they were designed to stimulate the senses with a carefully blended mix of speakers, covering topics inspired by each whisky expression. South Africans got their opportunity to taste the 3 variants at the annual FNB Whiskey Live Festival last year.

The winning “exotic” single malt was created using a subtle mixture of casks including Hogsheads and American oak barrels with the addition of a proportion of whisky from Spanish ex-sherry butts to provide a rich, exotic twist. The resulting “The Guardians’ Chapter” bottling will display the signature fruitiness of The Glenlivet and a delightful addition of rich, warm spicy notes. Rich and indulgent on the nose, it will captivate with an aroma of moist fruitcake and sweet, candied apple, balanced with the tang of orange marmalade.   The taste will be an alluring combination of juicy raisins with an undertone of dark chocolate orange zestiness, well-balanced with the subtle warmth of spice complimenting a delightful long and slightly dry finish.

Mandla Holomisa, brand manager for Glenlivet SA, says: “We at Glenlivet feel very proud to have been part of a global challenge that has given us this limited edition single malt blend, as desired by our whisky lovers. We are pleased with the enthusiastic response we’ve received, especially in South Africa.”

 

@theglenlivetsa

Facebook application: http://www.facebook.com/TheGlenlivetSA

The Glenlivet Single Malt Whisky is part of Pernod Ricard.

Enjoy responsibly, not for sale to persons under the age of 18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The #GlenGrant50 Whisky Tour. Whisky tours, as they should be.

Introduction

There’s too much for one post. Too much goodness, emotion, history – and just the right amount of whisky, thank you!

So please allow me to spread out, over a few weeks, the story of the whisky tour of a lifetime. My story of the #GlenGrant50 tour (hashtag devised over a beer at Heathrow) will take the form of a travelogue. It was a Friday-to-Friday whirlwind, one week of England & Scotland. From day one, walking into the player’s dressing room at Old Trafford to be presented with my own Manchester United shirt; to enjoying a 50 year old Whisky in the maturation warehouse, presented by the very gentleman who filled the cask all those years ago; it was a week of indulgence. Every day served up highlights. Every day saw more items ticked off my bucket list.

Slowly, deliberately, the story will unfold. At the end I hope you’ll sit back, alone, with a whisky and your thoughts for company, to reflect on your own whisky journey. You’ll find whisky and your thoughts very good company while you think about where you’ve been, where you are and where you want to go.

Part one

The gathering of a band of merry men.

Whisky has been good to me, or to paraphrase Churchill, I’ve taken more out of whisky than whisky has taken out of me. To me, the people and experiences are more important than the spirit itself. The spirit brings us together, but the spirit alone is just a spirit. It needs people to drink it. Years ago I interviewed a Master Distiller from Islay, who said “Whisky is not a bland, one dimensional drink. It is multifaceted, a social, gregarious drink. It will get lonely and dull unless it interacts with people.”

The title of this story is a play on the Glen Grant slogan ‘Whisky as it should be”, which is true, but doesn’t explain the tour. The tour is what all whisky tours wish they were like if budgets, planning, people and the universe played along.

Let’s start with from the beginning. I present whisky for many different companies. I’m independent and don’t get involved in the high-pressure corporate world of sales and targets and ROI and all that stuff.  Neither do I get involved with favourites, talking one brand only. I like whisky, the drink, not whisky from one company alone.  Give me a bottle of whisky and ask me to chat about it to a group of people and I’m happy. One rule – I only talk about whisky I like to drink.

Along come E Snell & Co, local distributors of Glen Grant, a whisky brand now owned by The Campari Group in Italy. I’d been doing festivals for about 6 years, for the Whisky Live organisers and a few other liquor companies.

“Bernard”, Craig, the brand manager says, “can you do Whisky Live for us?” Yes of course, with pleasure. I like Glen Grant and they were the first to ask that year, so, sure, I’ll talk Glen Grant. That was about 4 years ago. It’s a cool gig. The Whisky is great, from the light, fresh and fruity The Major’s Reserve to the more complex and intense 16 year old and in between is my favourite expression, the 10 year old. Yes, talking Glen Grant is a very cool gig.

I’d heard a whisper in my ear about a new release, The Glen Grant 50 year old. Soon enough the press release arrived in my inbox.

It is a thing of beauty.  gg1You’ll have to wait until part five, Tuesday of the trip, to find out what I thought of the whisky. Hint: I had an Oliver Twist moment. The whisky carries a hefty price tag: R 150 000, about $ 15 000. It is on the reasonable side for a whisky of that vintage from a renowned distillery. I read on and started to dream, for buying the whisky comes with something special, a tour to Scotland. It was, as they said, a rare experience to accompany a rare purchase, for “with each purchase of the Glen Grant 50 Year Old Limited Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky you will also receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Glen Grant Distillery in Rothes, Scotland.” Ok then. Tell me more.

The trip includes:

  • A private tour of the Glen Grant Distillery with lunch in the Victorian Gardens
  • Ballindalloch Castle tour
  • Adventure activities at the House of Mulben
  • The final day of the 2014 British Open Golf tournament at Royal Liverpool, with hospitality at the Champions Club Village
  • Manchester United Stadium tour
  • Loch Ness cruise
  • All flights, transfers and accommodation with breakfast,
  • lunch and dinner, are included.”

I’m not one of the lucky ones who purchased the whisky, I’m the lucky one invited along because I talk and write about whisky.

I knew we were in for a treat when my travel kit arrived, including top quality luggage & clothing, via a dedicated tour organiser who specialises in corporate incentives.

Quick as a flash Friday 18 July arrived the Cape Town crew left the airport to meet up with the Joburg crew and 14 whisky lovers clinked glasses in the private lounge at OR Tambo. We were a mixed bunch. There were sales and marketing guys from E Snell; buyers from the trade; some of the gents who purchased the whisky (only 10 bottles were made available to the public). There were three in the ‘journo’ contingent. Christian Eedes, who talks, writes about and judges wines, very, very well; Patrick Leclezio; a drinks packaging expert who in his spare time travels round the world writing the best spirits blog in South Africa; and me, a whisky lover, writer, reader, teacher, learner, not forgetting, since 1977, an ardent Manchester United supporter.

Introductions made, ice broken, we left South Africa and landed at Heathrow en-route to Manchester. What should have been a routine stop, clear immigration and leave Heathrow was not to be. We landed two days after the tragedy of flight MH17, so I expected increased security. We were on the tarmac for 90 minutes and took 2 and a half hours to clear immigration. Half of our group, me included, had our luggage examined with all sorts of paraphernalia, tested for heaven only knows what and then cleared. But we missed our connecting flight so got to Manchester later than expected, a minor inconvenience given what was to come.

As was the case in 1992, my first trip to Europe, on a Contiki tour, the arrival at a new hotel meant that a few of us gathered in the bar. 22 years later, nothing changed, so to the bar we went for an Aperol Spritz. Aperol, owned by Campari, is one of the sponsors of Manchester United. Campari is a favourite summer drink of mine and now with Aperol playing a delicious and meaningful part of my drinking arsenal, (no wait, arsenal is not the word to use in this story) my drinking repertoire, I see many a long summer lunch with an Aperol or two.

Enough about the drinks. To Old Trafford we went. For those who don’t know me, I’m 47 years old and have seen and done more than my fair share of living. It takes a lot to wow me or get under my skin.  On that day, I confess to being utterly overwhelmed. I’d arrived at a spiritual home. All that I’d seen and read about in a long history of supporting United was there in front of me. We had a private tour of the stadium, I sat in the seat Sir Alex Ferguson occupied while steering his team to victory upon victory. I could picture him on the touchline, checking his watch, pushing his players and intimidating the officials. I thought about some of the great games I’d seen, the players that had graced the pitch with displays of skill mortals can only dream of.

The highlight, and something that blew me away, was during the tour we went into the players changing room and on the wall, was an official Manchester United shirt. On the back, was my name. Yes, I walked into the changing room and there was my shirt.

united 1I don’t know how many times during my teens I dreamed about playing for United. It was not to be, but that day, the tour, the atmosphere of the stadium, the energy and topping it off with entering the change room – I couldn’t have dreamed of a day like that.

After another Aperol Spritz at The Red Café it was back to the hotel, back to the bar and then to dinner. And that’s where we’ll tee off on the next instalment.

I’ll also post a link to some photos, videos and so on, so bookmark this site and come back, often.

Whisky round the world viewed from Cape Town

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,910 other followers