This Nose Knows Whiskey: A Spirited Talk With Master Blender Richard Paterson

on 01/10/10 at 11:28 am


This nose is worth more than $2.5 million dollars.

Richard Paterson is a walking Whiskipedia.

His official title is “master blender” — in the Scotch whisky world, it’s the designation given to the skilled individual who chooses the single-malt whiskeys that go into a blend and guides the product’s maturation.

But Paterson’s unofficial title is The Nose. A third-generation whiskey man, his father, a whiskey distributor, gave him his first sip at age 8. Paterson tuned pro in the early 1970s. Now in his 60s, his skill at tasting, assessing and blending whiskeys has become so acute, his nose has been insured by Lloyd’s of London for $2.6 million.

Employed by Whyte and Mackay of Glasgow, Scotland, his day job takes him around the world. Paterson creates special blends for Korean and Japanese markets, and travels from the oak forests of Missouri to the González Byass bodegas in Andalusia in search of wood for whiskey casks.

He spends the rest of his time spreading the whiskey gospel. “Out there in the big bad world, people basically haven’t a bloody clue about whiskey,” he says.

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