Becky Paskin has the much envied job of editing scotchwhisky.com. She's been writing about food & drink for around 10 years, is well versed in all things distilled and currently lives in Brighton with her cat Islay - named after her favourite Scottish island of course. After making the decision to focus on spirits as an area of expertise some years ago, writing about everything from cocktails to distillation, it was whisky that stole her heart and she hasn't looked back.
Like most of us that have followed a career path in the drinks industry, Becky started behind a bar and waiting tables to make beer money whilst at uni. Not expecting to fall in love with the industry and studying journalism at the time (yes she can write shorthand), she's managed to build an impressive C.V. including some big name consumer and trade publications and has now combined both her passions into her dream job.
Apart from being a favourite spokesperson for whisky, especially those of the female persuasion and visiting hundreds of distilleries as part of her job... not jealous at all... we wanted to dig a little deeper and find out some more about our beloved Becky...
Talk us through an average day at work…
Most people think that my job involves drinking whisky all day, every day! While I do review whiskies every month, I tend to spit when tasting as otherwise I’d never get any work done! I’m responsible for curating all the news and features that are published on scotchwhisky.com (and writing them when I have the time!) but no two days are really the same. One moment I can be interviewing the blenders behind some of the best-selling whiskies in the world, the next I can be presenting a whisky-tasting class at a cocktail festival in New Orleans.
What is the best part of your job?
I love telling people’s stories. Whisky’s full of them, from the distillery managers who have generations of distilling in their blood, to hilarious anecdotes like being accidentally locked in a warehouse during a tasting. My other favourite moment is seeing the reaction on someone’s face when they finally ‘get’ whisky. It’s shrouded in all these myths around who can drink it, how it’s supposed to be drunk and when, that I find a lot of people have no idea how to approach it. Having the opportunity to demonstrate how amazing and delicious whisky is, is one of the highlights of my job.
What would you consider as your biggest achievement?
I’d say launching OurWhisky with Bacardi malts ambassador Georgie Bell. Too many people are still under the impression only men drink whisky, and a lot of that misconception is perpetuated through archaic and (although well-intentioned) thoughtless advertising. In March 2018 Georgie and I launched OurWhisky as a platform to change these perceptions, using social media to showcase the modern face of whisky as a diverse one, and working from the inside out to encourage whisky producers and agencies to consider how whisky drinkers are represented in their marketing. So far OurWhisky has had an incredible response, and we’re continuing to work hard to grow the project in 2019 and beyond.
Do you have a favourite distillery?
I’ve travelled all over the world visiting distilleries, from Speyside to New York, but my favourite has to be North British in Edinburgh. As an industrial grain distillery it’s not a typical choice, but I love the way tradition meets modernism, that Edinburgh has grown up around it (it opened in 1887), and that you can smell the spent grains (leftover cereal) from miles around on a windy day (it smells like Shreddies!). Sadly it’s not open to the public, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that North British is an urban wonder.
What’s your favourite whisky and why?
That’s an impossible question to answer; it’s like choosing one favourite song of all time. Everyone has a personal taste and it changes from moment to moment, depending on who you’re with and what mood you’re in. It’s the same for whisky. There are so many different styles and genres to explore. My taste in whisky – and music – is so eclectic it’s impossible to pin just one down as my favourite.
What’s your favourite whisky cocktail?
This is an easier one to answer. For me, it’s a well-made Bobby Burns. Equal parts Scotch whisky and sweet vermouth with three dashes of Bénédictine and a simple lemon twist to garnish. It’s a classic, and features in the legendary Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) where it’s highlighted as ‘one of the very best whisky cocktails’. It’s best made with a meaty, waxy whisky like Clynelish, Dailuaine or Craigellachie, and is a perfect enlivener before or after dinner.
What’s your favourite London bar for a dram or whisky cocktail?
London is teeming with fantastic whisky bars, but my favourites have to be Milroy’s (zero pretention, warm staff and all the knowledge, plus fantastic beer) or Swift for a delish whisky cocktail.
What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in the world of whisky right now?
People are realising that whisky isn’t just an ‘old man’s drink’, and that in fact whisky is a wonderful, complex spirit that anyone can enjoy, and in any way they like. If you’re new to whisky, and finding drinking a neat spirit is a bit much, try it in a Highball – basically, a whisky with a mixer. You can choose cola, soda water, tonic; anything you like, with any whisky you like (and yes, you can use single malt!). Just get experimenting and discover which combination you enjoy the most.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
I spent a lot of my youth on the stage, and have even performed for the Queen and the Prince of Wales. I played a boxing granny. Prince Philip told me I stood out. I wonder why!
...GOT YOU IN THE MOOD FOR SOME SCOTCH WHISKY?
New to our DrinkUp festival calendar is our Scotch Whisky Weekend - a five day celebration that coincides with the most Scottish of celebrations – Burns Night. Just like all our festivals, the mini festival will get you trying special £6 Scotch Whisky drinks in the best bars in London for those with a FREE Festival Pass - Get yours now!