Malt and More

Scotland's National Drink Explained

Responding to the communities need is key to a Lions Club's very existence but how this response manifests itself can be wide and varying. We are used to responding to people's social needs but one of our members, fundraising chairman John Ferris being a Scot and a member of the local Bowling Club, used his creativity to take the desire to respond, a little further.

A keen enthusiast of malt whisky, he had successfully encouraged the Olney Bowling Club bar to stock a couple of bottles of Malt. It wasnt a case of extending the choice to the members, simply a very selfish act as it was for his own consumption but he did notice that a number of his bowling colleagues were showing more than a passing interest in the two bottles.  Worse was happening though, the bottles were emptying faster than he was drinking them, so were others also interested in Malt Whisky he wondered?

Various discussions at the bar suggested to John that a fair number of the members were keen to learn more about his homeland's national drink so the concept of a Charity Malt Whisky tasting session was born and the Lions Club were delighted to become involved as beneficiary.  But what shape should it take?

John, a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, collector and investor in Whisky and with more than a penchant for lifting a phone to see if he could encourage the real players in the game to support the Lions, embarked on planning our first Malt Tasting which he branded as "Malt and More".   Malt, was obvious, but as the night was aimed at those who weren't particularly whisky fans, it had to have other features to keep the attention.

The first need, however, was to involve a knowledgable expert to lead the tasting - in stepped Michael Hoppert, then manager of Royal Mile Whiskies in Bloomsbury, London, one of the shops which John used for his purchases.

Approach was made to a number of individuals such as Ronnie Cox (Global Ambassador 'the Glenrothes'), Bill Hutchieson (Regional Manager Gordon & McPhail) and Andrew Nelstrop (owner of The English Whisky Co) along with various distilleries and other organisations within the industry and our local Carlton House Club were happy to provide the venue at no cost to the Lions.

The event took shape and our first Tasting Experience went live, drawing in 30 enthusiastic, if not somewhat curious locals who were looking forward to learning something about Malt Whisky in the otherwise barren town of Olney.   So what did we offer?

Plus a superb, educational and interesting talk from Michael

In total, 9 malts from the UK were tasted and by the end, everyone felt they had learnt a lot, tasted a lot and more importantly were seeing malt whisky as more than a strange bottle on the gantry.


The night was clearly a success and raised over £500 for the Lions Club charity account so we are now working on our second offering and would appear to have 'struck a chord' with a significant number of people in the Olney area.  

The event could never have been the success it was without the help of those people we have already mentioned.   But we also received considerable support from many others including: