Elements of Islay
Beyond all of the cask information, distillery facts and finer details found on many bottles of whisky, the most important aspect is the flavour of the liquid inside. With this in mind, for each set of releases for Elements of Islay we send samples to respected industry authorities before we bottle. Each has a trusted palate and with their approval we feel confident to introduce our whiskies to the world.
Billy Abbott is a writer working for The Whisky Exchange, and has helped create some of the bottlings in the Elements of Islay range. He started as a hobbyist blogger, but moved from the world of computing into writing full time, specialising in whisky. Alongside his work for The Whisky Exchange, he runs a London-based whisky club and writes for various print and online publications, as well as judging and chairing whisky competitions.
One of the best-known drinks writers in the world, Charles ‘Charlie’ MacLean has been specialising in whisky for more than 25 years. Trained by the Scotch Whisky Research Institute in the 1990s and with 10 books on the subject published to date, Charlie was called 'Scotland's leading whisky expert' by The Times in 2010, and uses his skills to present whisky to drinkers around the world, as well as consulting for almost every whisky maker in Scotland.
A journalist since the 1980s, Dom Roskrow began to focus on whisky when he returned from a stint as a music writer in New Zealand. Since then he has gone on to write for and edit a number of major drinks titles, as well as establish festivals, bottle his own range of whiskies, found the UK Craft Distillers Alliance and champion world whisky. On top of that, he's found time to write numerous books on whisky and lead tastings around the world.
A long-term lover of the island of Islay, Gordon Homer was part of the first wave of whisky fans writing on the internet. He ran SpiritOfIslay.net from 2000 until 2012, and is well known both in the industry and among whisky fans as a source of knowledge for all things Islay. When looking for our second whisky celebrity to approve the Elements of Islay range, he was the obvious choice.
One of the best-known whisky collectors and experts in the world, movie producer Hideo Yamaoka famously needs two apartments in Tokyo – one for him and his family, and one for his collection. He also has one of the most impressive palates, able to identify whiskies blind with a success rate that has earned The Spirit of Speyside's Best Nose award and won the Feis Ile nosing competition on a numerous occasions.
Ingvar Ronde is a Swedish publisher, best known in the whisky world for his Malt Whisky Yearbook, published annually since 2006. This indispensable tome contains information about every whisky distillery in Scotland, as well as those further afield, and is a must-have for whisky aficionados. Ingvar travels extensively to gather information for the book, visiting distilleries and festivals around the world, and is renowned as a resource for information on whisky.
The Milroy brothers, John, aka Jack, and Wallace, are pioneers of the whisky-selling world, well known for being champions of the spirit since the 1960s. Jack began in the wine trade and founded his own shop in 1964 in Soho. Within a few years it was known for its extensive range and Jack became one of the best-known names in whisky, both in and outside of the industry. Many whisky writers, sellers and ambassadors began their whisky journey after visiting the shop and sharing a dram with Jack.
Konstantin Griogoriadis is a long-standing member of the Malt Maniacs, a group of whisky enthusiasts from around the world, well known as influential drinkers with extensive knowledge of whisky. A proclaimed fan of old-fashioned and smoky whiskies, especially those matured in sherry casks, he was the perfect choice to approve our eighth release of bottlings, including the weighty Ar5 and old-school Bw4.
After years working in the wine trade, Mark Reynier burst onto the whisky scene as a creatively disruptive force. From his early days as an independent bottler to reopening Bruichladdich as a fiercely independent distiller, he has poured his passion into making whisky, and has shown the industry a new way of producing great drams. While he has now left Bruichladdich, he continues to make whiskey in Ireland and is respected around the world.
Oliver Chilton is head of development for Speciality Drinks Ltd and is responsible for managing the selection and release of the Elements of Islay range. From his early days of working in The Whisky Shop in York, he has worked extensively in the whisky industry, working in shops, leading tastings and organising shows, before landing at SDL to create the expressions that the Elements of Islay are known for.