The dancing of the Northern Lights

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.


“People always ask me how do you drink Scotch? I reply, ‘You’re  either left handed or right handed’.”

Meet Willie Tait,  Master Distiller and Isle of Jura Ambassador at the Whyte & Mackay owned malt whisky maker.

Willie was on hand at London Heathrow Terminal 5 this week as part of the airport company’s excellent ‘Best of British’ promotional campaign across food & beverage and selected retail outlets.


Willie is the perfect ambassador for his company, his brands and his country’s most famous product. He walks, talks and probably sleeps Scotch whisky and conveys that passion with a brilliantly deadpan humour that wouldn’t be out of place on the comedy circuit.

He took journalists through a tasting of four great malts – Isle of Jura 16yo; an Islay-influenced Jura called Superstition, The Dalmore 40yo and an amazing preview of the stunning 45yo version of The Dalmore called Aurora (in honour of the famed northern lights in the night sky).

willie mctell

Each was a very different but compelling proposition. As Willie said as he nosed a dram: “If you’ve  this and no friends, who cares?”

He likened The Dalmore 40yo (below) to the more difficult of two young children, one jovial and one (The Dalmore) that had to be dragged along by its mother, noting: “This has got muscle and attitude, it’s looking for affection”.


And of the palate, he added: “It smells like Christmas cake… it’s a lovely, toffee and honey-combed palate, which shows what wood can do in terms of taming that child.”

Sounds good enough to eat doesn’t it? And indeed it was.

But the big finish, in every sense, came with The Dalmore 45yo, Aurora, of which only 200 bottles will be released worldwide. This gem of a malt will cost £3,000 a bottle (US$4,600) and it’s worth every penny.

“You can taste peaches, honey, Colombian coffee and chocolate in there, can’t you?” asked Willie. Yes I could, and more. In fact if I’d tasted a dram or two more, I reckon I might have even seen (and tasted) the dancing of the northern lights.


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  • Willie Tait is one of the World’s great whisky ambassadors. W&M are fortunate they have hung onto him.

    I remember a few years ago (well , maybe 22 or 23) when he hosted a dinner for 15 Catalans in the Isle of Jura Hotel who were starting out to sell Isle Of Jura in Spain.

    His anecdotes about Jura and life in general kept us in the hotel bar well after closing time. But as he said, there was no problem as the only policemen had gone back to Islay on the last ferry.