Ren Butler is founder of The Whisky Social, which challenges the way whisky events can be held and pushes the boundaries of how they are. She also fills the roles of consultant and hired gun when called upon.
Describe your job in five words
Blowing people’s minds with whisky.
What do you appreciate most in a whisky?
Daring complexity that won’t be loved by all.
What do you appreciate least in a whisky?
Lazy marketing to an outdated narrative. Not really about the liquid but the honest truth.
What is your most treasured whisky?
This one bottle of Hibiki 12 that I got as a thank you gift four years ago for putting in an extra 25-30 hours at work for a few weeks.
What is your favourite virtue in a whisky bar?
An atmosphere of warm sophistication that welcomes me to sit on my own with a dram and my journal in complete peace.
What do you most dislike in a whisky bar?
Arrogant or unfriendly bar staff.
If you could have any job in whisky, what would it be?
The one I made for myself, which is why I started doing it.
What is your favourite distillery name?
Kavalan, because they actually named it after the first nation people of the area it was built.
Who is your hero in whisky?
Picking just one is hard. If I only get one, I have to go with David Vitale.
What is your idea of whisky happiness?
Deep conversations with somebody fascinating (hint – Dave Broom) and a few others in the back of a bond store while sipping right from the valinch.
What phrase do you most overuse when talking about whisky?
“That’s punchy,” and I love it.
When do you lie about whisky?
Rarely. If a producer or rep seems like they’re already having a rough time I will be diplomatic.
Who or what is the love of your whisky life?
Woah. This just got real. Any high quality 100 percent rye. If I had to pick one specifically, Belgrove.
What is your happiest whisky memory?
Visiting Islay when Dan Woolley was there and we were handed the keys to the No.1 bond store at Bowmore. That was pretty surreal!
What is your saddest whisky memory?
Not being able to talk Atsushi Horigami into a picture with me at bar Zoetrope.
Who do you most admire?
Everyone who’s ever showed up alone at a whisky tasting for the first time ever.
Sherry cask or bourbon cask?
Mizunara! Bourbon if I have to pick between those two.
If you could work at one distillery, which one would it be?
What is your greatest achievement?
Pulling off four Frisky Whisky events without having the fire brigade called.
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