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May 28, 2014 / mintcustard

An evening of whisky and women.

World of Whisky

World of Whisky

I don’t get out much, so imagine my horror when I got off the tube at Leicester Square to head towards the Women in whisky event in Soho and I suddenly realised everyone else was in black tie.

Oh S*#t!

I carried on, and I’m so glad I did. Not only were my fellow travellers off to the Miss Saigon opening night and not the whisky event but I found out so much about a drink I thought I didn’t like!

Upon arrival we had the chance to chat whilst sipping a New fashioned cocktail. Created by World Duty Free whisky specialist and writer Alwynne Gwilt (MissWhisky) to celebrate this year’s annual World Duty Free Whisky Festival event, it was a delicious way to begin the evening. Indeed later that night we all had an opportunity to get behind the bar and mix a New Fashioned for ourselves.

Miss Whisky talks us through the New Fashioned.

Miss Whisky talks us through the New Fashioned.

New Fashioned Cocktail


• 50ml The Balvenie Triple Cask 12 Year old

• 5ml 100% pure maple syrup

• 2 dashes peach bitters

• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

• Canada Dry ginger ale

• Ice cubes


To begin, put your serving glass in the freezer to chill while you make your drink. 

Next, combine the whisky, maple syrup and one dash of peach bitters, along with

one sprig of rosemary in a Manhattan or Boston shaker. Add 6-7 large ice cubes, put

the top on, and shake for 10-12 seconds (until the shaker is ‘too cold to hold’). 

Remove your serving glass from the freezer, add 5 large cubes ice to it, and strain

your cocktail mixture into the glass. 

Top with a splash of ginger ale (to your liking, but around 30ml) along with one dash

of peach bitters, and the second fresh sprig of rosemary.


It was interesting to think about the reasons women may not choose to drink whisky. Was it misogyny on the part of those men buying a round? Have we never really been offered a decent whisky before? Did we just perceive whisky to be a “male” drink? It would be interesting to know what you think.

Which one would suit you best?

Which one would suit you best?

For me one of the most helpful parts of the evening was when Miss Whisky set out to find a whisky that would suit me gin loving palate. She suggested I try Auchentoshan Springwood, and delicious and very drinkable it was too.

As well as the opportunity to try many more cocktails and whiskys we were treated to a Toastmaster and public speaking masterclass from Grace Dent. She passed on her knowledge to women taking on the traditionally masculine role of ‘TheToastmaster’ for the World Duty Free Whisky Festival, she has compiled ten tips for a successful, heckle-free speech. She delivered these with a huge amount of humour and with her tongue firmly placed in her cheek!

Grace Dent passing on her knowledge.

Grace Dent passing on her knowledge.

Grace’s top ten tips for female Toastmasters

1. Make some notes. Don’t wing it. Some light prep will save your skin.

2. Know your audience.

3. Slow Down. Make your voice LOUD. Always check people can hear.

4. How to avoid hecklers

Hecklers are a pain in the bum. Realistically: they are quite rare. Remember, youare not a professional stand-up comedian, it’s not your job to verbally dispatch someone being a nuisance while ‘bringing the house down with laughs’. If someone is shouting out, pause, regain your calm, and carry on. If it happens again, fix them with a hard stare which suggest you’re not OK with it, then ask politely if it’s ok with them if you finish your toast. Often groups of people are ‘self governing’ and the moment they sense you’re unhappy, someone – usually an angry gran- will jump in and tell the person to SHUT UP.

5. How to add humour and get a laugh

A fail-safe option for fun is some light teasing of the person who you’re making a toast for. Think of silly things that will make the room smile. Bring up amusing events where they were idiotic BUT lovable. Not idiotic and horrible! This isn’t a place to settle scores or tell anyone off. Or prove how you’re the sensible goody-two-shoes who always, always knows best. I have watched best man toasts decend into men putting down their lazy friend while plugging their own CV! Any funny story about someone should always be told with a big dose of love. Communicate: ‘This person does this type of thing ALL THE TIME (messy, disorganised, blunt, forgetful etc) but I wouldn’t change them as they’re brilliant and don’t we all love this eccentric thing they do?’

6. State the obvious.

7. How to bring a tear to family and friends at a wedding

It’s not actually that hard to get a tear during a speech. You have carte blanche to pull shamelessly on heartstrings by bringing up someone’s finest hour, or their darkest hour when a huge life event happened and their life changed forever. If it’s appropriate and fitting, don’t be afraid to pay tribute to someone who can’t be there as they are very ill, or would have loved to be there but have passed away. If you’re going to do this, make sure you get their names absolutely correct. At a wedding I spoke at, I got three different opinions beforehand on how to say the bride’s dads name. Make people cry for the right reason.

8. How to guarantee a rapturous applause

OK, you’ve made them laugh, and cry, and muse on how beautiful the concept of ‘friendship’ is. Now End on a HIGH by succinctly summarising exactly why this person is SO deserving of this shared occasion. Even if they aren’t. Be creative.

9. Check that glasses are full.

10. Be very proud that you’re a female toastmaster!


All very sage advice, as a primary school teacher in my real life I’d say almost all, apart from keeping glasses topped up, work just as well for a class teacher too, although don’t make them cry too often!

I will be making a whisky sour this evening so look out on Twitter and Instagram for that.

Whisky Sour

A truly timeless cocktail like this needs a classic whisky and simple ingredients – just make sure the glass is stylish enough for the contents. Mixed by the World Duty Free resident cocktail expert Charlie McCarthy to celebrate World Duty Free Whisky Festival 2014.


• 50ml Jameson Signature Reserve

• 1 egg white

• 30ml fresh lemon juice

• 15ml gomme syrup

• Ice cubes


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake without ice. Add plenty of ice

and shake hard. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned tumbler and garnish with a

lemon wedge.

Making my own cocktails will continue at home!

Making my own cocktails will continue at home!


I was invited to the event as a guest and have not been asked to write a positive post on this event. All opinions and photographs are my own.


Leave a Comment
  1. Annabel (gaskella) / May 29 2014 12:45 pm

    Haven’t drunk whisky for years, back then it was always a good malt with a splash of water, no cocktails.

    • mintcustard / May 29 2014 1:30 pm

      Never been a Whisky drinker so cocktails are an ideal gateway for me. Did try one that I did like neat though.

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