In Review

Review: The Art of Collecting Rare Whisky by Justerini & Brooks

Learn how to start your own rare whisky collection with this interactive virtual masterclass

What makes the ultimate rare whisky and what makes a rare whisky most collectable? These are two questions that every whisky lover will ask at one stage of their collecting journey. 

The answers to these questions are “completely subjective”, said Tod L. Bradbury, the head of rare and collectable whiskies at Justerini & Brooks. Because there are so many factors to consider – age, scarcity, provenance, quality, the distillery and how the whisky is stored, to name just a few. 

There’s also the stories behind the liquid – and that’s what’s inspired Justerini & Brooks to create a virtual masterclass. The fine wine and spirits merchant’s three-part video masterclass gives whisky fans the expert knowledge and advice for starting their own whisky collection. We joined host Bradbury and his guest experts to learn about “The Art of Collecting Rare Whisky”. 

What’s included? 

As well as access to the three-part video series, whisky fans who purchase the masterclass will also receive some goodies in the post to accompany the digital experience. Displayed in a Justerini & Brooks presentation box, you will find four 50ml whisky samples – extraordinary expressions from Talisker, Mortlach, Johnnie Walker, and The Cally – as well as a glass pipet. Each participant also receives a bespoke Smythson whisky tasting journal which features expert tips. 

The four whiskies included in the masterclass

The four whiskies included in the masterclass

Justerini & Brooks

About the virtual masterclass

The videos are split into three chapters which each tell a story. Starting with “The Story of Experience” (18 minutes), Bradbury explains some of the history of Scotch whisky and introduces the expert guests who discuss their own personal experiences of collecting. 

“A Story of Taste” (30mins) is the second video and here viewers are taught how to taste whiskies, refine their palate and explore the language used to describe the liquid. In chapter two Bradbury also hosts a tasting of the four whiskies that are included and explains how to use the “flavour wheel” that’s featured in the journal. The whiskies in the masterclass tasting are: Talisker Xpedition Oak 43 Year Old; Mortlach 2019 Special Release 26 Year Old; Johnnie Walker Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal Edition; and The Cally 2015 Special Release 40 Year Old. 

The third and final chapter, “Creating Your Own Story” (11mins), looks at the ways viewers can build their own bespoke whisky collection and offers tips and advice on how to seek out rare gems and the distilleries to know.  

The Justerini & Brooks presentation box, whiskies and Smythson tasting journal

The Justerini & Brooks presentation box, whiskies and Smythson tasting journal

Mike Starling

The verdict 

After two years of countless WhatsApp video calls, Zoom meetings and virtual “parties”, you would be forgiven for wanting to attend an event or tasting in person. However, the format of Justerini & Brooks’s masterclass works perfectly for digital and is ideal for an at-home experience. It also makes a fantastic gift for a whisky drinker.  

The videos are great quality, the hosts are extremely knowledgeable and overall it’s very personable. There’s also something quite comforting about being able to enjoy four amazing whiskies while lounging around on the sofa.

As Bradbury said, whisky collecting is not always about the liquid itself. Often it’s “the stories and the history” that elevates a rare whisky to be a collectable. And it’s the stories from the experts themselves that really make this masterclass. 

Bradbury and his expert guests tell great stories throughout all three videos and it feels like you’re watching a high-production documentary about the history of whisky, rather than hearing a lecture. 

This is a masterclass in storytelling that deserves another chapter. But for now, the whisky collecting journey begins…    

The Art of Collecting Rare Whisky masterclass by Justerini & Brooks costs £500 and can be purchased at justerinis.com

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