Blogger, Whisky Enthusiast and Artist Extraordinaire
I invited (pleaded with) Ansgar Speller (@ansgarspeller), a prominent blogger (lovingwhisky.blogspot.nl), Tweeter, and Artist (to name but a few talents) to be my first interviewee (victim) and luckily Ansgar Speller kindly agreed.
Hi! Thanks for interviewing me! I am honoured to be interviewed for your new website. It must be exciting times for you both now with the launch and all!
What to tell about myself? Mhmm let’s see… I am 37, married to Thomas Speller (@thomas_speller) and from the Netherlands.
Originally trained to be in the ICT sector as a system manager, but to discover after graduating 15 years ago, when I was looking for a job, there was no room for woman in ICT sadly. Nowadays that is a bit improved but then sadly not. So I had to think for something else to do. I discovered that my strength was more in logistics and project management. But with no degree in that, that proved to be a challenge. So I started to work with moving company’s and soon I was working in the transport- and hoisting equipment, and noticed that those big cranes, trucks and complex projects are quite fun to do!
From there I got the opportunity to work for Pon Equipment, as a Sales Coordinator, for three brands Komptech, Gunther, and Caterpillar. They make big machines for waste and recycling treatment and for the earthmoving, mining, paving and construction business.
A couple of years ago I dusted an old hobby of mine off, and started again to paint and draw. Also a bit of sculpting on the side… but mostly painting and drawing. On my website www.ansgar.nl you can find more information. I try to get inspiration out of daily life things, colours and shapes and make a combination in materials to get an abstract view on things. Also photography is a big hobby of mine, and I love to look for the unusual corners, lines and details in objects and buildings. Looking it from another angle, to change your view point. It can surprise you a lot when you force yourself to stop and look, really look. Some of my photos can be found here www.flickr.com/photos/ansgarspeller/ or on my Facebook page facebook.com/AnsgarsArtwork?ref=hl
I hear you thinking, but how did you get into whisky then? A couple of years ago Thomas was going to a festival with friends once a year, and this was a guy’s night out. I enjoyed a dram sometimes but must say that I found it too strong really. Looking back I often wonder what happened and where did that happen? I really don’t know. I do know that we went on a holiday to Scotland and Thomas and I had set us the goal to try and visit some distilleries. We never did that and were wondering what we have ourselves in to. Touring Scotland, and what if we don’t like seeing all those distilleries?
In the months leading up to the trip I had some more whisky, and Thomas taught me more and how to enjoy it. As always I attacked it like a project, that is what I am good at, and sunk my teeth in it. It just could not happen that I was visiting something and did not know something about it? 🙂
So trying to smell and taste, and just take the time for it, learned me to expand my sense for flavours and I discovered that my nose and palate were not so bad at all, what triggered me to learn more and more of course. We went on the trip, and quickly discovered that no distillery is the same, and we both were curious about everything else out there. We are both very studious and noticed that the more we learnt and saw, only fired the passion more and more. It was like a big ball growing bigger and bigger…. In this journey we met wonderful people online and offline and felt welcomed by the ‘whisky world’. Our trip turned out to be a huge success and we fell head over heels for the beautiful Scottish scenery and people. In the end we visited close to 30 distilleries in 2 weeks and had like 20+ tours or something. We were hooked.
Do you remember the first ever dram you tried?
No, sorry I don’t…
You and your husband both blog and enjoy whisky, do you find you have the same tastes in whisky?
Now we have quite the same taste, but also don’t sometimes, differs by brand sometimes. Thomas has a couple of years in tasting ahead of me, although I am catching up now, I had too learn to appreciate peat for example, and he started there. Now I can appreciate peat/smoke flavours and many of the times those are among my favourites. It is funny to see how your senses develop through time.
What made you decide to take the leap from whisky enthusiast to blogger? How difficult/easy have you found it?
Thomas did had his blog earlier than me, and was making notes to educate himself also. He was already more familiar with the process of making whisky and the flavours. Thomas advised me to blog, because digital was the easiest way I found ( I still am that same person that wanted to go into IT, loves Fantasy, LOTR, Magic and D&D, and gets excited by new gadgets or computers, yes I know, I am a girly nerd 😉 ). I have been out of that business for long now, and not up to date but still it is a good part of me….
The moment is really not a specific time, but more a process that has happened the last year. I have started to make notes, and educate myself by reading magazines, books, and watching videos and reading blogs. Was on Twitter and Facebook but not very active, and found a whole new world out there. I tried to write something about my experiences on my journey of learning whisky and all, and noticed the positive reactions to it. I was surprised, and that motivated me to go on with it.
This has not been an easy road must say. I discovered that the world outside there looks strangely to woman and whisky. I found myself in the same battle as in my job being a woman first trying in IT, then logistics, and then in heavy equipment. They look at you like you are not capable of doing something. These prejudices fires only my motivation to keep going. I am not a feminist, but do think woman can achieve more then they sometimes think, and that they are held back by society values many times.
So another snowball began to roll and roll…. I am still a newbie, I know that, and my journey is just starting. It thought me in the last year to just do it, and step over the things that were holding me back.
How do and Thomas manage to split the work/life balance, with both of you blogging and (no doubt) being very busy in your own right?
Thomas and I always had many shared hobbies and interests and love to explore the world together, and travel around and make new experiences. I find the balance very difficult to keep here, when talking about whisky outside the whisky community so to say. People look at you like you have a drinking problem, and find it just weird. Well, just let them, I am loving it, it gives me a good feeling making this journey and discovering what is out there. We notice that the more and more you get in to the blogging, tasting etc. you need more time. I am very thankful that Thomas also is so active in the same things as me, that lets us keep a bit of balance.
But when work is very busy you notice that it really is hard work. But fun, and that is the most important thing, it also gives you energy to keep going in daily life sometimes when everything looks grey and sad. Brainstorming about a text or having a discussion about something, we just love that. We look forward to the road in front of us, and seeing where that leads us. No set plans, because whisky is supposed to be fun, and be shared with friends, so that is something we do first.
By learning more and more about the production process and the technical details you get to appreciate the product also more we notice. That brings a whole new dimension to the table.
We have some preferences both when looking at the blogs, and try not to get in each other’s way, and letting the other show their strengths, and giving each other room to grow. That also is a road of discovery, how to do that, but by staying honest about preferences we don’t get of track.
What is your favourite whisky memory/achievement?
This year was a heavy year work wise and personal, but we also had some great moment like the Feis Ile and Maltstock. Those opened our eyes and let us see another side. We were just amazed. Moments like being at Feis Ile and enjoying the atmosphere and meeting all these lovely people that surely is one special moment. If I had to choose? Think it was either the sitting in the sun on the pier of Laphroaig with a dram in hand, enjoying the festivities with Thomas next to me. Or maybe the Robin Laing performance at Bruichladdich, or just the Feis day there, that was awesome, combined with the warehouse tasting? Oh my…. Or was it the discovery of the Arran Distillery, and meeting those lovely people? Just don’t know…. As an achievement I must say that is the WIP really of my blog and my whisky education so to say. Having started a blog in the last 2 years, meeting all these people, sharing a dram with so many of them, interviewing them, visiting distilleries, festivals, Maltstock, the #Whiskyfabric, all just makes it one big achievement really, the whole experience in that short time….
It’s almost a new year, do you have anything special planned for 2014?
For the New Year? I just don’t know yet what is in store. If 2013 is a guideline, then 2014 will be really promising, and I am sure it will bring me different challenges, and many, many great meetings with people. Just taking it one day at the time, and just enjoy everything that comes on my path, and have a positive look to it. “Just do it” will keep me going, and can’t wait to see what surprises are around the corner. Just enjoy and live life.
If you could own any bottle in the world, which would you pick and why?
Would surely be something of Bruichladdich I think. Or maybe the Yamazaki 18 that is also a beautiful one or the Kavalan Sherry, but I would love the Black Art bottling’s at home, or maybe the Octomore…. Or something of Balblair …. Or…. Or…. do I have to choose? 😉
Just for fun……
Tea or coffee?
Latte machiato with extra caramel.
Heels or trainers?
Flat shoes more comfy definitely but love the feeling of high heels.
Books or TV?
TV shows (addicted to TV shows like CSI and Doctor Who, but also love a good book from Stephen King).
Nights out or nights in?
More of the staying in, and having friends over and cook for them.
Beach holiday or city break?
City break for sure (will be bored on the beach, both of us can’t stay still, and burn like lobster red in very little time so no fun there).
And that concludes our interview, thanks again to Ansgar for taking part. Check out Ansgar’s Blog and various Websites, you’ll be glad you did.
Kirsty Clarke (@kirstypryde1)