Make it an Old Fashioned
Whisky has a sense of romance surrounding it. Over my lifetime, I’ve seen it as a drink of choice in so many of the films I am inspired by, included in those are the Bond films of more recent times, TV shows I can’t take my eyes off such as Suits and Mad Men and I do quite like savouring the occasional whisky when I want to take a moment to celebrate or reflect on life. It’s not only on the screen, writers such as Hunter S Thompson stick out in my mind the most, with Ian Fleming putting James Bond ordering a whisky more often than not in his books. Taking time to drink a single glass of whisky and take in the moment is a wonderful experience. It’s like a slow and reflective celebration of life.
Recently I met a man dedicated to the world of whisky, Nathan Ford. Nathan owns and runs Old Fashioned Events, a whisky events company on the Gold Coast, Australia. Not the place you would expect to find this type of business, but all the same, a small but growing market has seen him carve out a niche for those whisky lovers to learn more about this wonderful drink and have fun along the way. I took some time to ask Nathan about his love of whisky and what inspires him on his journey.
Exclusive Q&A with Nathan Ford, Old Fashioned Events
TMHS: What inspired you to start Old Fashioned Events – and to work with whisky in particular?
NF: I was bartending and trying to learn more on spirits. I had to travel to Brisbane a lot for masterclass events with brands and thought the Gold Coast needed more spirits trainings. Whisky was a passion of mine so I pursued learning from the best in the industry and used that knowledge to create old fashioned events on the Gold Coast. I also wanted to smoke cigars and drink whisky with mates in bars which isn’t possible so I created the whisky lounge that comes to your private event and creates that atmosphere.
TMHS: Your prohibition style 1930s whiskey bar set up really gives you a feel of bring transported back in time when combined with the experience of your masterclass of the world’s whiskeys and their history. Share with me more on the journey you take people on.
NF: The private events set up the whisky lounge/ prohibition / speakeasy style atmosphere with a old wooden bar, Chesterfield chairs, crystal decanters, cigar boxes and old books. The masterclass takes people through the basics of whisky production, to its history and how to nose and taste it for flavour etc.
TMHS: I’ve long been a fan of whisky but somehow I’ve only recently discovered a love of an Old Fashioned. How do you like to make an Old Fashioned? Any special tricks/tips you want to share?
NF: Glad you like the good ones! It is the oldest cocktail there is so when it was first made it was just booze, sugar, bitters and water. The way I would recommend it is 10ml sugar syrup or cube of sugar, 2x dashes of Angostura bitters 2x dashes of orange bitters, and 60ml of bourbon preferably Buffalo Trace or Woodford Reserve. Stir it down but don’t dilute too much strain over large clear ice cube and garnish with orange peel zest!
TMHS: How important do you feel the glass is to the whole experience? What do you recommend as a good glass for drinking whisky?
NF: If you’re drinking whisky and enjoying it I’m happy! For a cocktail it will depend on the drink. Eg. rocks glass for old fashioned, coupe for manhattan. For straight whisky I would always recommend a Glencairns or a wine taster (215ml) because of the shape of the glass it funnels up the aromas of the whisky when nosing the glass.
TMHS: When I was in Tokyo many years ago I went to a whisky bar and remember they had every different shape and size ice I could think of and it made a big impression on me. So much care was taken in the preparation, more than anywhere I had seen before. How important is the ice?
NF: The ice is an art form these days and the Japanese are all about visual appearance but also perfection in food and drinks with taste. Ice is very important with dilution to cocktails and it must not contain any fluorides, or contaminants when adding to whisky or cocktails. The larger the cube in whisky on the rocks the slower it melts and dilutes the flavour of your whisky. So if your drinking it on the rocks I would always recommend the larger cubes from a purified or spring water source for whisky. Even better try it neat or with just 2 drops of water.
TMHS: Do you have a favourite whisky?
NF: All of them I always say there is a special whisky for every situation and time. Region wise I would say Speyside if it’s scotch. Starward from Melbourne has a special place always in my Cabinet too. Why? It’s amazing and only 2-3yrs old and who doesn’t like favour notes of banana and toffee.
TMHS: Three things you use most in your day?
1. Phone- for all my social media with whisky.
2. Beard oil- too keep a fresh smelling beard. I’ve even tried to replicate an old fashioned cocktail and had it specialised from the botanicals store Melbourne for me.
3. My computer for research, learning and emails.
TMHS: Favourite item of clothing and why.
NF: My black jeans, versatile can wear them with t-shirt or dress up for a whisky event with some leather shoes, shirt and suit jacket.
TMHS: Favourite quote and why.
NF: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I love to travel the world and learn about different cultures and experience life. It’s also part of my Polaroid travel tattoo on my left arm.
TMHS: How can readers find out more about what you do and book you for their whisky experience or masterclass?
NF: They can find my Instagram at Old Fashioned Events (@oldfashionedevents).
Facebook – www.facebook.com/oldfashionedevents
Website – www.oldfashionedevents.com.au
Email – nathan @ oldfashionedevents.com.au
All my masterclass events will be posted across all social platforms and my website.