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16 Dec 2015
06:02

Philip Dawson’s Collection

Discover a Rare Passion
The Balvenie story has always been deeply interwoven with those who dedicate their lives to its craft.

Philip Dawson, a Mash Man who’s been committed to the 5 Rare Crafts through 28 years of whisky dedication, has a passion for The Balvenie that goes way beyond his work.

Philip started his career in the whisky industry as Mash Man at the Glendullan Distillery, where he spent 5 years learning his craft just down the road in Dufftown. He then ventured offshore to work in the oil industry for 6 years, before being drawn back to his family and the world of whisky. He honed his craft and knowledge of whisky making at Glenfiddich by working in the warehouse, in the Still house and as fireman managing the real coal fires at the distillery – a role he counts amongst his favourites.

Philip then joined us as Mash Man at The Balvenie, where he has been putting his expertise to great use ever since. He loves the family ethos, describing it as “a family within a family in Dufftown - my best friend from school, who was also best man at my wedding works in the Cooperage here, which is a great pleasure”.

Philip loves the traditional methods used to make The Balvenie, in his own words “the way whisky should be made”. His role as a Mash Man involves grinding the selected malt, turning it in the mash tun and passing the resulting mash to the stills. And it is this personal appreciation of the craft infused in every drop of the Balvenie which inspired Philip to start collecting fine whisky, triggered by the release of one of his favourite Balvenie expressions – the 1989 Portwood.

Over nearly three decades working at the distillery, Philip’s increasing passion expanded his collection to some 240 bottles - including 65 treasured Balvenie expressions - mostly still unopened. When not enjoying The Balvenie, Philip has “a soft spot for the Ancnoc 12 Year Old Whisky; a really nice smooth drink” that he particularly enjoys around this time of year.

His most treasured are The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batches; very rare limited releases made by marrying casks. Philip’s infectious dedication to them once convinced an American friend to drive state-to-state to secure a coveted bottle of Batch 3. Philip now has all of them in his collection.

But not all the bottles in his collection required such a journey. By sheer chance Philip “stumbled across” another prized find, The Balvenie 1968, in the local shop in Dufftown. He had given up hope of sourcing such a vintage cask, only to find it just around the corner.

He finds word-of-mouth is a great way to hear about new whisky releases, keeping in close contact with his network of collector friends – one of whom owns a whisky shop in Swindon and “keeps me in the know”.

Philip plans to continue adding to his whisky collection in the future, with more vintage casks on his wish list. Now Philip is travelling to Australia to follow another life-long passion, but wanted to leave something behind to inspire others to appreciate the Balvenie craft. Perfectly timed with the Season of Giving, he is displaying 40 rare Balvenie expressions at the distillery and inviting fellow enthusiasts to come and be inspired – as he is – by the Balvenie.

Philip’s final word, for anyone inspired to start their own collection, is “get them as soon as they’re released!”

Slainte, Philip.

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