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Proust Whisky Questionnaire: Daniel Mathers

Daniel Mathers is Gauger of the Queensland Malt Whisky Society’s Brisbane North sections and a key organiser of the annual Queensland Whisky Expo, one of the best-respected standalone whisky festivals in Australia. A great enabler for whisky enthusiasts in the state, he is also a regular face in the crowd at events and tastings all over Australia. Regularly described as one of the ‘good guys’ of the industry.

Describe your job in five words

Procure whisky for QMWS meetings.

What do you appreciate most in a whisky?

Complexity and length of flavour. Whiskies that really challenge perceptions or expectations.

What do you appreciate least in a whisky?

Whiskies that are too astringent. Tannins should complement the spirit, not overpower it.

What is your most treasured whisky?

Rosebank 25-year-old from the 2007 Diageo Special Releases. It will be opened amongst friends. I was lucky enough to try a dram of Ardbeg 1974 Provenance at the distillery many years ago, this was truly sublime, alas I do not own a bottle.

What is your favourite virtue in a whisky bar?

Passionate, knowledgeable bartenders and a bar that brings new products in on a monthly basis.

What do you most dislike in a whisky bar?

When a new whisky is on display on the back bar and no-one knows anything about it. Worse still, it's not in the POS system.

If you could have any job in whisky, what would it be?

I think I have it - I love showcasing whisky and sharing the love, and most importantly, challenging expectations.

What is your favourite distillery name?

I don't really have one, but I do have a penchant for Rosebank and Brora.

Who is your hero in whisky?

John (Jack) Gagen. Sadly no longer with us, John almost single-handedly brought the love of whisky to Queensland. Without Jack, Queensland's whisky scene would be a fragment of what it is today.

What is your idea of whisky happiness?

Drinking a Rosebank or Brora in front of the fireplace in Scottish winter.

What phrase do you most overuse when talking about whisky?

Well balanced.

When do you lie about whisky?

When I'm with the company of others who may appreciate more about the colour of the whisky's brand name rather than what is in the glass.

Who or what is the love of your whisky life?

I love my monthly QMWS meetings, I think I've missed one meeting in 12 years... I'm still looking for the love of my whisky life in human form.

What is your happiest whisky memory?

I have several. Visiting Clynelish and Brora Distillery in the middle of the Scottish winter and drinking a dram of Brora at 3.30pm watching the sunset, my visits to Islay, and that night at the Baxter Inn where I tried that Rosebank 25-year-old for the first time. I'll never forget it.

What is your saddest whisky memory?

Standing in La Maison du Whisky in Paris almost ten years ago looking at the single cask, aged statement distillery bottlings from Yoichi and Miyagikyo for sub-200 Euro a bottle and not buying any.

Who do you most admire?

Too many to mention! But to focus on Australia, I would have to say those distillers and independent bottlers who do things differently, Tim Duckett and Peter Bignell, I'm looking at you. Non-Australian, Ian Macleod Distillers for negotiating the transfer of the Rosebank brand, then reviving the distillery.

Sherry cask or bourbon cask?

Bourbon. Except for GlenDronach. Then Sherry. Actually, who am I kidding? Sherry. But honestly, a bourbon cask generally shows the true spirit characteristic better than a sherry cask ever will but of course there is always an exception to the rule and GlenDronach is one of them.

If you could work at one distillery, which one would it be?

The new Brora and Rosebank Distilleries. I think it will be absolutely fascinating to see how close they come to replicating the original spirit character and how they do it.

What is your greatest achievement?

Running my accounting practice while organizing the Qld Whisky Expo for the last three years running, in addition to monthly QMWS meetings and other whisky events, while raising my two sons, five and two. I cannot wait to share some special drams with them when they are old enough.

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