The Slipper Sippers
Sometimes a Society bottle name hits the spot as much as the stunning liquid inside it. That was certainly the case for Society member Bob Anderson and his long-time pal, Chris Hyland on an unforgettable visit to 28 Queen Street
Bob Anderson (right) with his Slipper Sipper pal Chris Hynland
I’ve been a member of the SMWS for a number of years now, and although I live on the West Coast of Canada, I originally come from Biggar, a small town south of Edinburgh. My wife and I travel back to Scotland on a frequent basis, and although we are extremely happy to be living on Vancouver Island, we both enjoy returning from time to time to visit with friends and family back in the “old country”. For years, we’ve raved about the outstanding hospitality, unbelievable selection of exquisite whiskies, and great times we have every time we visit the SMWS at 28 Queen Street when we are in town.
More than a few years ago now, while I was talking up the SMWS to my dear friend Chris, he mentioned that he also loved Edinburgh and, since he was an avid Ian Rankin fan, would love to return someday and visit the Oxford Bar, which is often referred to in Ian Rankin’s “Rebus” series of murder mysteries. I mentioned to Chris that the Oxford Bar is only a short walk from the 28 Queen Street SMWS Members’ Room and committed to him that upon his retirement from work, which at that time was more than a few years off, I’d buy him a pint at the Oxford Bar.
Chris and I belong to a small group of friends that we have affectionally named “The Slipper Club”. The name came from the fact that because this particular group don’t all live close by, when we would get together we would usually make the visit an “overnighter” and someone would always remind the others to “bring their slippers”. Hence, “The Slipper Club” was born.
Well, word got around that Chris and I had decided to meet in Edinburgh for “a pint” upon his retirement, and as the date drew closer, we decided to make the occasion in to a “Slipper Club” meeting. As a result the entire group of seven came along for the trip to celebrate Chris' 40 plus years career. We all had a wonderful time exploring Edinburgh and spending some time in the Highlands, and yes, I did finally get to buy my friend a pint at the Oxford Bar. Had the trip ended there, it would have been a resounding success. However, before we left Edinburgh, there was one more thing to do. I wanted to buy my friend a very special bottle of whisky, and I knew just the place to go.
So, myself, Chris, his wife Marilyn and my wife Denise, set off on a casual walk through the streets of Edinburgh. As I was the tour guide, I was able to manipulate the route so that it would end up at the SMWS on Queen Street. Since I was a member, I invited the others to join me for a whisky tasting. As we entered the beautiful old building and made our way up the spiral staircase, I could see that this was already becoming a unique experience for Chris and Marilyn.
We made ourselves comfortable and settled in for our tasting. I asked the young server for some assistance, to help my friend Chris get the best out of the experience and find a flavour profile that would match his personal preference. The server was incredibly knowledgeable and after asking a few revealing questions, he quickly narrowed down several selections for Chris (and the rest of us) to try. As we sipped away, enjoying the ambience of the location as much as the delicious whisky, Chris narrowed his selections down to three, and then down to one, until the time came to reveal the name of the chosen whisky. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we read that it was Cask No. 30.101: Slipper Sipper! I asked the server to wrap up a bottle, and presented it to Chris as our gift to him to commemorate the occasion of his retirement.
Chris was deeply touched by the gesture and decided to keep the bottle unopened until the "Slipper Club" could meet again. That was October 2018. Most recently, the Slipper Club reconvened on Vancouver Island for the first time since our amazing trip to Scotland, and true to his word, Chris brought his bottle of Slipper Sipper. We all waited in silent anticipation as Chris squeaked open the cork, releasing the content’s magnificent fragrance throughout the room. He then poured seven generous portions into appropriate glasses, and we all raised our glasses to toast great friends and great memories.
I just wanted you and the SMWS folks to know that what you do is often much more than procure and distribute great whisky.