Whisky master blender Richard Pater­son dis­tilled his own brand of com­edy dur­ing a Camp­bel­town tast­ing ex­trav­a­ganza when he vis­ited Camp­bel­town’s shrine to uisge beatha (the wa­ter of life), the Ard­shiel Ho­tel.

Campbeltown Courier - - FRONT PAGE - Words and pic­tures MARK DAVEY

The ho­tel has more than 2,000 un­opened bot­tles, val­ued at a con­ser­va­tive £180,000. Pic­tured are Mar­ion McKin­non, Richard Pater­son, Flora Grant and Scott Gri­er­son in front of the Ard­shiel Ho­tel’s Dal­more cab­i­net.

NOGGINS of blended whisky rubbed rar­efied shoul­ders with ex­clu­sive malts at an in­vi­ta­tiononly cel­e­bra­tion of a whisky ex­pert’s 50 years in the busi­ness.

For a year, ‘The Nose’, aka Richard Pater­son, Whyte and Mackay’s master blender, whose ar­ter­ies pos­si­bly flow with whisky, has been on a world­wide tour mark­ing the golden an­niver­sary of his Camp­bel­town start in 1966.

Pater­son is fa­mous for hurl­ing good malts on the floor dur­ing ac­tion-packed pre­sen­ta­tions, which owe more to stand-up com­edy and last Fri­day his whirl­wind whisky his­tory les­son landed at an Ard­shiel tast­ing.

Pro­pri­etors Flora Grant and Mar­ion McKin­non had se­lected an au­di­ence which com­bined Camp­bel­town whisky in­dus­try in­sid­ers, from Spring­bank and Glen Sco­tia, with con­nois­seurs and peo­ple who quite openly said they did not like the drink.

Pater­son’s talk al­most dove­tailed with the 10th an­niver­sary since Grant and McKin­non took over at the Ard­shiel and trans­formed it into one of Scot­land’s lead­ing whisky bars, at the same time help­ing to boost prof­its at many dis­til­leries.

Pater­son said: ‘On Septem­ber 5, 1966, as I pushed through the door at A Gil­lies and Co’s Glas­gow head­quar­ters, at that time the owner of Glen Sco­tia. It was like en­ter­ing some­where out of a Dick­ens novel.

‘The same week the first episode of Star Trek was broad­cast on the 8th and Cap­tain Kirk was go­ing, “Where no man had gone be­fore ... on a five-year mis­sion” – and I was head­ing to Camp­bel­town.’

In the space of two hours and with the help of six sam­ples, in­clud­ing a 40-year-old Fet­ter­cairn – re­tail­ing at £3,000 a bot­tle – Pater­son may have even con­verted a few.

The tast­ing though was af­ter a whistlestop lec­ture, com­bined with a slide show on the drink’s his­tory and Pater­son’s own life.

Gems in­cluded a black and white pic­ture of for­mer Spring­bank master dis­tiller Frank McHardy fill­ing a cask and a plas­tic model of a Phyl­lox­era aphid.

Pater­son told the au­di­ence the pest de­stroyed French vine­yards in the mid-19th cen­tury, help­ing whisky to knock brandy off its pedestal as a gen­tle­man’s drink of choice in Lon­don.

Whisky was in his blood in more ways than one. Pater­son ex­plained his grand­fa­ther opened a spe­cial­ist blenders and bot­tlers in 1933 and, as a pre­teen, un­der his fa­ther’s guid­ance, he learned to nose whisky.

Pater­son added: ‘It all started with my grand­fa­ther but the Pater­son his­tory goes back much fur­ther and in­cludes one of the founders of the Bank of Eng­land, Wil­liam Pater­son.’

Pater­son com­pared nos­ing to a per­fumier’s skill at look­ing for the top notes in a per­fume and men­tioned the blend­ing for Chanel Num­ber Five.

He demon­strated nos­ing and tast­ing, sug­gest­ing a large sip is taken and swirled around the mouth for 40 sec­onds be­fore swal­low­ing, lead­ing each in­di­vid­ual sam­pling af­ter a mighty: ‘Slàinte mhah.’

The first sam­ple was a lim­ited edi­tion, triple-ma­tured 21-year-old blended whisky which, thanks to Pater­son’s skills, has helped Whyte and Mackay gar­ner gold awards from the In­ter­na­tional Wine and Spir­its com­pe­ti­tion.

Af­ter sam­pling four more mag­nif­i­cent malts, the fi­nal drink was another blend, Shack­le­ton, named af­ter the ex­plorer. This had a cer­tain tough char­ac­ter, but for any­one who had not swal­lowed all of the other five mea­sures it was in a dif­fer­ent class.

Far left, Ard­shiel’s Mar­ion McKin­non with a group of ‘tasters’ be­fore a drop had been sam­pled.


Richard Pater­son noses a whisky.


Richard Pater­son pre­sented Flora and Mar­ion with a com­mem­o­ra­tive signed book each, a quaich and two phials from a £50,000 bot­tle.


From left: Michael Spel­man, who flew in from Amer­ica for the week­end, seen here with Ard­shiel pro­pri­etor Flora Grant and the Rev­erend Philip Wal­lace.


Camp­bel­town Com­mu­nity Coun­cil chair­man Alan Baker.



The Scotch Malt Whisky So­ci­ety’s Ni­cola Young was given a spe­cial sam­ple from a £50,000 bot­tle of Dal­more dis­tilled in 1966. Richard Pater­son poured two phials into a quaich.


By tra­di­tion to prove it was all con­sumed the pair held the quaich up­side down over Ni­cola’s head.


Canapés served af­ter the tast­ing.

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