When you get the opportunity to hang out with one of the world’s premier whiskey makers, you don’t hesitate. And Brian Kinsman, master blender for Glenfiddich since 2009, had plenty of interesting things to say while holding court at a recent whiskey pairing dinner at Delmonico steakhouse at Venetian:
Drinking enormous amounts of whiskey never really dulls your palate. Kinsman says he spends “a good couple of hours a day” tasting all the various whiskeys before they’re deemed good enough to bottle and sell. All told, he sips 15,000 samples a year, sometimes a half-dozen a day, other days hundreds. And his secret for keeping his palate fresh? “Short, sharp bursts—never do more than 20 to 25 samples at a time.” As for keeping his taste buds in shape, he recommends two things: no spicy foods and no smoking.
If you want to become a master blender, try chemistry. Kinsman got a degree in chemistry from the University of St. Andrews and started working for Glenfiddich in the late ’90s in its laboratory. He became whiskey legend David Stewart’s apprentice for eight years, and says his science background has been invaluable.
He drinks more than whiskey. When he’s not on the job, Kinsman’s drink of choice isn’t always Glenfiddich. “Sometimes wine,” he says, adding, “I don’t really drink beer, unfortunately. It doesn’t really do much for me. It’s not in tasting, I just think beer’s a bit too much.”
Don’t think too hard about what you’re drinking. Regardless of his chemistry background, Kinsman says the best way to enjoy whiskey is “without thinking about it.” We couldn’t agree more.