Johanne McInnis tells Whisky Corner all about a one off show – Sensipedia at Spirit of Speyside Festival
Hi Johanne (@whiskylassie), I’m so glad you managed to take time out of your very busy schedule, packing for your huge trip to the UK, to talk to us about your plans and Spirit of Speyside (@spirit_speyside) event.
So tell us a little more about what “Sensipedia” is, and what it means to you?
A few years ago I noticed that whisky for me was not just a drink of choice it was an experience. The more people I met who also enjoyed whisky, the more I realized many of us felt like that. This concept and idea really started to germinate for me and I started to do a lot of research. It culminated when I was having a whisky with Dominic Roskrow (@whiskytasting) in New York last year.
What fascinated me the most was I had had the whisky several times and the only word I could find that really described it was herbaceous so I was really looking forward to seeing what Dominic would say. He used one word as well: Green. When I asked him to elaborate he said he often “saw” colours when he was nosing/tasting whisky…
That pretty much set the ball rolling for the concept that our five senses are always used when we enjoy a whisky and I set out to get as much information to present the idea of “Sensipedia” to those who would be interested in learning more about how the five senses can be fully used to enjoy whisky in a completely different way.
What we see, feel, touch, taste and hear culminates into a whisky experience not to be forgotten.
How prepared are you for your trip?
Very! I have been planning this trip for almost two full years. Only thing left to do is pack a suitcase 🙂
What will you be doing during your trip?
The list is endless as I’m going to 7 different countries over a period of 10 weeks. It ranges from many distillery tours, blending labs, leading tastings, visiting with many wonderful people of the #whiskyfabric and of course some of the trip is simply sightseeing and being a “tourist”.
How instrumental was Dominic Roskrow in your mission to explore “Sensipedia”?
His description of how he sometimes saw whisky in “colour” really fascinated me. We spent a few hours together that day and I came away feeling very inspired to research and write about it.
How did you come up with the name?
It was quite simply during a brainstorming session with Alwynne Gwilt (@themisswhisky) & Annabel Meikle (@thewhiskybelle). It just came to me and I blurted it out. I know it’s a made up word, but at the same time I really identify with it.
Will “Sensipedia” mean different things to different people?
Like everything else in life, everyone processes concepts & information differently. I’d like to think that people will come away with something that speaks to them.
How do you manage to convey that message in your Festival Masterclass?
I’ve chosen 5 whiskies that, in my opinion, best represent Speyside and by using each of the senses we will be experiencing them in a way that will be very different than a “traditional” class.
For people that maybe just enjoy their dram and haven’t thought much beyond one dram at a time, why would you recommend your class to them?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down with a dram and not putting much thought into it, but every once and a while you might come across a dram that simply knocks your socks off. When I personally come to that conclusion, it’s become automatic to use all of my five senses to really appreciate and create a whisky experience.
This class is part of the International Women of Whisky Day, how important to you is that?
My hope is that someday whisky will simply be seen as a spirit for all. Right now what I love being a part of is the awakening of women. Traditionally whisky has been seen and marketed toward men. I think if more women see women in the industry and see more events open to them, it will lead to many more women discovering and enjoying whisky. Get begets get…
Do you think that men and women will each learn and pick up different aspects of your class?
I think people will pick up different things from this Masterclass regardless of their gender, although it will be interesting to see if there are any differences.
Just how much difference to the enjoyment of whisky does using all five senses make?
I can only speak for myself and a few people I’ve already introduced this concept to and the answer seems to be LOTS. It’s drastically changed how some enjoy their whisky.
Do you think that your class is quite an alternative way of exploring whisky tasting?
It’s not necessarily a new concept but it is different. Many of us have been taught to focus on what we smell/taste but not what we see, hear or feel or how all of the senses come together to create memorable whisky experiences.
What would you like people to take away with them from your Masterclass?
I love when people have an open mind to new ideas and concepts. Like me when Dominic explained how he sees colours sometimes as representations of the whisky, I got that and it clicked with me. That’s what I’m hoping for during or after the class. I want to look around the room and see the light bulb moments!
Could you give me just a little teaser of what the class will be like? Or one of the whiskies people will taste?
The class will be very interactive with lots of discussion. The senses are examined one by one and it’s through the discoveries we will make that we choose the whiskies together. That’s all I can say (Insufferable woman, I’ll just have to wait with the rest of you to find this out, but knowing Johanne, they will be fabulous whiskies, presented in an interesting, thought provoking but most of fun way).
For anyone who hasn’t yet booked (are you mad people?), why should they attend this event?
This will change the way people enjoy their whisky and anything that does that has to be a good thing, it could be the best £20.00 they may ever spend.
Thanks so much for your time Johanne, really looking forward to finally getting a dram together.
If you haven’t already booked tickets to this one off event at Spirit of Speyside Festival then what’s stopping you? You really do not want to miss this chance to look at whisky tasting just a little differently with one of Canada’s greatest whisky exports. With limited availability and the only chance you will have to see Johanne at work book here now.
Kirsty Clarke (@kirstyclarke29)