A whisky journey shared

Having a whisky blog is about more than just sharing whisky. In addition to chronicling your whisky journey and serving as an aide memoire for a particular bottling’s tasting notes, it can also capture the small moments of life you might otherwise forget, as Mads Schmoll found out from SMWS member Manfred Geiler

Manfred on a Society Sunday afternoon

For almost a year, Manfred Geiler has posted a photo of an SMWS bottle every Sunday with the hashtag #societysunday on his Instagram account Bavarianwhiskyfreak. Starting in April 2020, Manfred has been documenting his favourite bottles – sharing his tasting notes and what’s going on in his own whisky journey.

That journey began 12 years ago for this nurse from the Chiemgau area of Bavaria, Germany. “We had a tour at the old Jameson distillery in Dublin and I liked the dram after the tour a lot,” Manfred says. “That was my very first whisk(e)y.

“The same evening, we had a great pub visit with lots more whiskey, this time Bushmills Black Bush. Back home, number three was a 10-year-old Laphroaig. Even after trying that one, which isn’t exactly beginner friendly, I still wanted to try more whiskies and the passion grew.”

An SMWS member for over seven years now, Manfred has always featured Society bottlings on his whisky blog. But it was only recently that he decided to feature SMWS bottles on a Sunday using the ‘Society Sunday’ theme.

“For about 10 months I’ve been using the hashtag #societysunday,” he says. “This is quite a small hashtag which is also used by clubs and societies for sports, music, gatherings and of course the SMWS. It’s all about coming together and this is very fitting for the SMWS.”

It’s this part of the whisky community that Manfred finds particularly special. “I had the idea to start my account @bavarianwhiskyfreak and show off my collection,” he says. “I quickly learned that there are many people in this community with the same passion. I meet so many nice and lovely people there. If you like to chat or need to solve a problem, there are always people in the same mood and willing to help.”

It’s this spirit of togetherness that’s come into play even more throughout the pandemic. “During lockdown more and more online tastings were done and samples were swapped. With a couple of people I met there, I would say it’s really a kind of friendship now,” he says. “The fantastic thing is they come from all over the world.”

When he’s not working, or writing for his blog, Manfred loves walking and hiking – hobbies that easily lend themselves to taking photos for his account. “Typically, I choose a bottle, have a walk, mostly with a spot in mind already,” he says “I arrange the bottle and that’s it. Of course, there is a bit of editing but not too much. Sometimes I pass a spot and decide I’ll use it for one of my next shots.”

As for his favourite shot so far? “Maybe it’s the Cask No. 46.58: Living the high life. It’s a fantastic dram, complex but not too much, with a lovely sweetness,” Manfred says.

“We opened it in the early summer last year to celebrate the end of the first lockdown. It accompanied us through a relatively untroubled summer and into lockdown two, until we finished it a couple of days ago. It was a dram for both good and bad times.”

It’s clear that Manfred’s love for the Society runs deep, and although part of that is about the liquid itself, he explains that there’s much more to it than that.

“You also get lots of entertainment and whisky education…Unfiltered might be the best whisky magazine I know,” he says.

“It’s always a highlight to visit The Vaults or 28 Queen Street when in Edinburgh. The events are also fantastic. I will always remember the SMWS garden party for the 35th anniversary. Finally, the club’s character makes it feel like a family.”

You can find Manfred’s #SocietySunday series on INSTAGRAM To celebrate, we’re launching a #SocietySunday sticker this month on Instagram