OK, so way back in the day, I got on somebody’s mailing list as the “leisure editor” at the paper I worked for in San Francisco. Truth was, I was the sports editor, but who am I to split hairs? Sports & leisure seem to go together, and I was about as leisurely an editor you were about to find, so I never bothered to correct the assumption.
At first I received press releases addressed to the Leisure Editor, which really didn’t have anything to do with that I was covering, so they went into the circular filing cabinet. Then I started received things that were valuable: books from Simon & Schuster and CDs for review, and invitations to restaurant openings (free food). But the best things ever addressed to the Leisure Editor were from a guy named Johnny Walker.
The company that puts out the red- and black-labeled blended wares from Scotland was going to hold a scotch tasting and I was invited. Not only that, but I was encouraged to bring up to four friends to sample JW’s products.
Now, to that point—maybe 1995 or 1996—the only experience I had with scotch was an unfortunate interaction with a bottle of something called Cluny, which ran, at the time, I think maybe $6 a bottle… it was definitely not high-end stuff. Still, I was game. I collected some of the reporters from the paper and we headed down to some art gallery by the foot of the Bay Bridge for the tasting.
We walked in and just about had scotch drinks thrust into our hands—JW Red Label with soda and Black Label with water, as we were told these were the best pairings—and attacked the hors dourves buffet. After a little while, we were directed into a big room with long tables and at each place-setting was a paper map of Scotland and six shot glasses of scotch: one each of JW Red & Black, as well as drams of single-malt scotch from the different scotch regions of Scotland.
Then a little guy in a kilt came out, presented a Power Point slide show, told a couple of jokes and ran us through the different scotches from the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside and the Isle of Islay. Boy, was this a lot better than that Cluny stuff. After
downing tasting all the samples, we were treated to a catered dinner, and with dessert, we were rewarded with a glass of Johnny Walker Gold Label.
By the end of the evening, we pretty much poured ourselves into taxis and headed off to await the morning and whatever issues we may have with bright light and loud sounds.
I thought this was a great one-off perk for the mysterious Leisure Editor, but every three months for the next couple of years, I received another invitation to another Johnny Walker tasting. I always accepted, and each time brought a new group of friends. I am now a dedicated drinker of scotch, more so the single malts than JW, but I do have a bottle of Black in the cabinet for an occasional nip.
So, the reason I’m telling this story is that Johnny Walker is hosting a scotch tasting in San Francisco this week, beginning on Thursday, and all you don’t even have to be a leisure editor to get in: All you have to do to attend to sign up on line. Click here to register.
It’s at Fort Mason and there are two or three sessions on each day, but some of them are already filled up. You had better jump if you want to play.
You’re Welcome. All I ask is that you let me know how it goes, if a little balding guy in a kilt is doing the presentation (I’m just wondering about his job security) and what you thought of the scotch.
Enjoy, and keep on walking!