Interview with Pino Perrone.
Around the event “A tutta Torba”, (3rd edition), dedicated to peaty whisky with a focus on Bowmore, we decided to offer our readers a nice interview with Pino Perrone, well-known expert in the field and Whisky Consultant of the Rome Whisky Festival by Spirit of Scotland.
Roma Whisky Festival by Spirit of Scotland.
A festival that, now in its eighth edition (Rome, March 2nd-3rd 2019), has become an unmissable appointment for Italian whisky fans. We have already talked about it in this article. As we have already dedicated another article to some Single Malts produced in the islands of Skye and Islay, both in Scotland.
Perrone’s interview will lead the reader to further deepen the culture of whiskey, and the fascinating world that revolves around this distillate, appreciated by millions of people all over the world. We therefore immediately give the floor to our expert.
Pino Perrone – Spirit of Scotland – Rome Whisky Festival
Thanks Pino for your collaboration!
Q) Judging from what we have seen during recent events we can say that a real culture of whiskey is spreading in Italy. What can you tell us about it?
A) It’s not really something new. They are historical recurrences. After a dark period that lasted about twenty years, Italy is recovering. We were a beautiful market in the sixties and seventies and authentic talent scouts, with the interest in countertendency for the single malts just rediscovered by the distilleries and the nourished intervention of our independent breeders with their proposals. Here, in our country, the most important whiskey bottles collections in the world have been gathered by various people. I really think, as far as the past is concerned, that Scotland should tell us a huge ‘thank you’ for showing them the way forward. Now they do it themselves and good for them. But there is still much to be done to recover the gap that countries like France and Germany and – remaining in Europe – all the Scandinavians have imposed. Long story short, we are at the beginning.
Q) For the benefit of less informed readers, can you describe the different varieties of Whisky and “Whiskey” (at least the main ones) and explain what are the main differences?
A) We would need a whole course to talk fully about this topic. I can say that the term ‘whiskey’ means a grain distillate. So others cereals are not excluded besides barley. As for Scotland but not only, because many countries comply with this rule, there are currently: Blended malt scotch whisky, produced with only malt barley from several Scottish distilleries and Single Malt scotch whisky, resulting from the distillation of only one malt barley from only one distillery. For these two types the use of discontinuous Still is mandatory. Then there are the Blended Grain scotch whisky, where at least two cereals are used, one of which is malted barley coming from several Grain distilleries and the Single Grain scotch whisky, which come from only one. For these two types the continuous still is basically used but it is not forbidden to do otherwise. The most common category, however, is that which unites the two Single, Malt and Grain and is called Blended scotch whisky. The term ‘whiskey’ is the prerogative of Ireland and U.S.A. If in the latter country a majority of 51% of corn are used, we will have a Bourbon whiskey, if 51% is rye, it will be Rye whiskey.
Q) In addition to the trusty places of production of whisky, in recent years have risen international manufacturers in other countries (we think in particular to Japan, but we have noticed that it is also produced in Italy or India). We would like to know something more. What is their quality level? Do they have special features?
A) Whisky can be produced all over the world being a grain distillate. Scotch only in Scotland and under certain conditions. Therefore we should not be surprised if we are very many producing countries. You mentioned Italy, which in reality, continuously, has only a whisky distillery and only four years old. India, thanks to its thermal excursion, offers very full whisky after just five years with hints mainly of exotic fruit. A similar argument can be made for Taiwan. Japan produces whisky since 1923. Its products are very linked to the Scottish tradition of the past and tend to be polite and elegant. The notoriety has happened for various factors in the last years. One is certainly the fact that it has won international awards since 2001. Another is the merit of a “crafty” film, Lost in Translation, by Sofia Coppola. But there are other reasons that can not be explored here. Never forget where everything is born, i.e. Ireland. But we have excellent products from distilleries in Wales, France, Belgium, Denmark, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Tasmania, Australia, Sweden, Iceland and I certainly forget many.
Q) How should a fan behave to fully appreciate the qualities of a good whisky? How to taste it better?
A) Of course, drinking responsibly. First he/she must establish a good cultural preparation. With the attendance of seminars, tastings, festivals, tasting everything he/she can. Inquire about the characteristics of the product. And never forget to use the appropriate tulip glass, an adequate serving temperature of around 18 degrees, and time to dedicate to it. It is a path but once undertaken it is difficult to get out of it.
Q) Whisky is also present as an ingredient in cocktails. What are the most famous and those currently trendy? A recipe to offer our readers?
A) I disappoint you by saying that I’m not a fan of cocktails. Among the most famous certainly there are the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, the Brooklyn, the Whiskey sour, The Rob Roy. I would say that the first is timeless.
Q) Whisky has always been in the collective imagination also because of its presence in cinema and literature. Can we summarize the key points of these presences?
A) In movies, apart from the presence of the bottle as a companion for the search for oblivion, as in the films with Bogart or the Nicholson of Shining, the most interesting movies where whisky is present are The Angel’s Share, by Ken Loach and the cited Lost in Translation, by Sofia Coppola, but for different reasons. Blade Runner both the first and the very recent 2049 see the presence of Johnnie Walker. Even The Diabolic of Henri George Clouzot, is in a sense protagonist. Of course there is Whiskey Galore, the first of 1949, directed by Alexander Mackendrick and noteworthy mentions are Bastards without Glory by Quentin Tarantino. Interesting is Lawless by John Hillcoat on Prohibition in the U.S. In the literature, even here ignoring the various Chandler, Hemingway, Bukowski, Hammett, I mention Memories of a Drinker by Jack London, all the work of Manuel Vazquez Montalban is full of it, the trilogy of Fabio Montale by Jean-Claude Izzo, and a surprisingly almost unknown, André Héléna in The Victim: superb.
Q) Finally, can you tell us an anecdote, a famous story or something related to whisky?
A) In 2012, for the fifty years of the James Bond saga, the production chose to insert a particular scene in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. In this, Silva, the bad guy played by Javier Bardem, captured the 007 on duty, played by Daniel Craig, offers naming the brand by name, a shot of Macallan 1962 whisky whose bottle is clearly visible in the frame, which secret agent does not take a second to swallow. Then with his own shot, Silva / Bardem goes to Sévérine, the bond girl on duty, the beautiful French model Bérénice Lim Marlohe, who is bound. He places the shot over her head, like the apple above William Tell’s son. And as in the latter, invite to shoot Bond to center the glass. The hesitant agent misses the target. It is now Silva’s turn that kills the girl, so dropping the shot to the ground and its contents. When Silva asked at 007, “Something to say?”, 007/Craig answered after a sigh, “Was a good scotch”. Well that bottle, as shown in the scene, in reality does not exist but it is a re-bottling that the distillery had to do for the occasion of an 18 years came out in 1980. And guess in which country the Macallan has turned to recover the necessary bottles?
We would suggest “Italy?”, But maybe the right answer will be given by Pino on December 2nd during “A tutta Torba”.
This Special Bowmore Limited Edition will be presented during the Event
Texts, Interview and Images © iBESTmag – Pino Perrone’s portrait courtesy Pino Perrone – Reproduction Forbidden