This week, I had a wonderful opportunity to be humbled. It’s not everyone that would welcome this experience, and to be honest I am not known for being a wallflower, sometimes my ego arrives in a room before I do.
But, events came together in which I felt less the man I thought I was. Glenfiddich, who are key sponsors of the charity Walking with the Wounded, organised the worlds highest whisky tatsing. A live feed to Everest base camp to talk through four expressions of the Glenfiddich range.
Walking with the Wounded is a UK based charity which funds both the re-training and re-education of wounded servicemen and women with the aim of helping them find long term employment after they have left the Armed Forces.
So it was a pleasure to be asked to join the panel in the studio at the London Stock Exchange and link up to the team at base camp. Mount Everest, when you start looking at the figures and thinking about its scale, dangers and beauty, really does make you realise how insignificant you are in the world. A feeling that is multiplied when you then learn about these incredible men, who have not only overcome hurdles in their own physique but have then gone on to push the boundaries of human endeavour, even for those more able bodied.
Monty Halls, explorer and tv presenter. Jamie Milne Glenfiddich ambassador and Ed Parker, Simon Daglish founders of the WWTW charity and myself, set about delivering a 45 minute show intersperced with video footage of the project and charity and the actual live link.
Upon arriving at the LSE, the studio was abuzz with energy. We had a sneaky preview of the guys at base camp, just a quick hello to the top of the world, before we sat in the studio and began a sound check and rehearsal. The four of us wanted to keep it relaxed, after all, it was a whisky tasting right? No need to seem scripted and wooden, but nerves conspire to make that a difficult task at the best of times.
As we went live, and sat in the studio watching the video explaining the charity, I couldn’t help but feel rather useless. Here was I , in a warm studio, glass in hand, whilst these brave lads undertook this epic challenge.
We first had a quick chat with the Pioneers, winners of a competition with Glenfiddich to trek to base camp (which takes 10 days!) and discussed the principles of tasting and straight into the Glenfiddich 12 old and the 18yr old.
Unfortunately, the sound link was struggling to cope with distance and height, but we could see from the screen they were certainly enjoying themselves. Then it was over to the Walking with the Wounded team themselves and a tasting of the Glenfiddich 15 and Age of Discovery 19 yr old. It was noticeable that those guys chose not to spit the whisky out, despite the health recommendations, but lets face it, they had recently been given the news that the summit attempt had to be called off due to the dangers on the mountain, I am sure they can be forgiven for not spitting the whisky out.
Despite the poor sound link it was clear that the boys embodied the “one day you will” spirit that inspired the partnership with Glenfiddich and that for all involved being part of the project was just as valuable as reaching the summit. Having met the team a while back I think they have also learned a bit about whisky along the way and it was great to see them all those miles away wrapped up against the elements appreciating a good dram. We wrapped up the broadcast with a few question and answers before we all relaxed properly and shared a dram or two more with the cameras off. But dont think thats the end- there are more exciting projects afoot and you can still donate here.
Watch the full broadcast here –