He looks every bit himself in his blue coloured shirt as he welcomes me to view his whiskey collection on a hot Sunday afternoon. I could tell he was excited to show me round. As we walked into the spacious room, he pointed at some of his collection arranged on a table nearby. In his collection are some of the most exotic whiskeys I have personally come across: Glenfiddich, Chivas Regal, Ardberg, Glendronach, Hibiki, Yakmazaki, Dalmore among others.
Martins began collecting whiskey a couple of years ago. He wasn’t really a whiskey person at that time. However, a meeting with a long-time friend at an exclusive restaurant on Lagos Island made him find a new passion.
Looking at Martins’ collection, one would have thought he had been collecting whiskey for many years but he just started two years ago with his collection totalling more than forty bottles. “Funny enough if you look at my collection,”, he says, “it has been quite recent. Going to about two years. But I have built such a collection that many people think I have been drinking whiskey forever.”
He isn’t just a collector, Martins understands the language and moods of whiskey. It is for this reason he can’t say which brand is his favourite. “Whiskies have moods,” he says leisurely. “It depends. There are so many different brands. It is difficult for me to pick what my favourite brand is. There is the Japanese whiskey, Scottish, Irish, Canadian. You have the Indian and South African now. For me, it all depends on my mood and how I try to feel at that particular time. When I am super excited and I basically just want to cool down, my favourite by far is Scottish whiskey. If I have to pick one, I couldn’t but pick two I particularly enjoy a lot. One is the Nikka Pure Malt and the Adberg Uigeadail would be the other. Two particularly different drinks but amazing nonetheless.”
He loves to drink his whiskey without mixing it with any soft drink or adding ice to it. “I always drink my whiskey neat but this is not for everybody. I enjoy it this way. But it’s not always a bad idea to add a bit of water or ice to it. You can also mix into a cocktail but I only drink whiskey neat. At the end of the day everyone has his preference.”
With his growing collection, Martins tells me he will continue to explore his taste for whiskey in spite of the misconceptions about whiskey. “There are two misconceptions of the whiskey. One is the more expensive a whiskey is the better it tastes. That’s not correct. There is also the is conception that the older the whiskey, the better the whiskey. There are some really amazing old vintage brands but it does not mean they are better whiskeys.
“A really good whiskey typically should be around 18 years, the moment it is past that age, you have a situation where the cast where the whiskey is preserved begins to dominate the taste of the whiskey. It will no longer be appealing to the palate. You drink it because it is older and it is more expensive, it gives you the feeling of exclusivity but the actual refinement, you are not getting the optimum value. This is not always the case though. There are several exceptions though but personally I have found out that below 18 years is sort of like the sweet spot.”
Martins says tasting for whiskey in the past used to be about the age but with all the improvement in technology on the brewing process, a three-year-old whiskey that cost less than $20 could be just amazing. “I stumbled across a couple of blends South African malts during my last visit to South Africa and they turned out quite remarkable,” he adds.
He adores Single Malt whiskey out of the two types that exist: single malt and blended malt. “When a whiskey is single malt it means that the drink is only brewed just one distillery. It gives it that feeling of pureness and exclusivity. Twenty percent of my collection is blended Malt but my personal favourite still remains the Single Malt variants.”
Martins enjoys travelling outside the country as it enables him visit Duty Free shops at airports where he buys more whiskeys to add to his growing collection. “I am the only person I know who loves stop-overs more than direct flights and that is purely because I get the opportunity to checkout their extensive collections. For every bottle I of whiskey I have, I have them in two bottles. I keep one for drinking, the other for my collection.”
For most people, when you talk about whiskey what comes to mind is usually Scottish, Irish and recently Japanese whiskey. Interestingly, the best whiskey for 2015 was a Canadian whiskey which Martins says he is eyeing next.
“That piece of news shocked a lot of people,” he says. “A brand called Crown Royale and it is Northern Harvest Rye. it is considered to be the best whiskey for 2015 by a renowned gentleman called Jim Murray who publishes a yearly Whiskey Bible. If you consider that is a Canadian whiskey. I have a couple of Crown Royale in my collection. I have a limited edition.
Did you know there is a difference between Whiskey and Whisky? We didn’t know too until he told us about it. You can follow him on Instagram @standman where you will get to see him share pictures of Whiskeys as he acquires and tastes them.