Name: Ingvar Ronde
Year of Birth: 1957
Place of Residence: Malmö, Sweden
Profession: Writer and Publisher
Whisky Involvement: Malt Whisky Yearbook
As most of you will know by now, Dramming.com gets a mention in the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011. Ingvar Ronde, the publisher of the book, had informed me of this great news by e-mail and I thought: “Wouldn’t it be a nice idea to have Ingvar in the Whisky People series?”. To my great pleasure, he agreed to participate in the project, and so I am now able to synchronize the portrait with the launch date for the latest edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook which happens to be today.
Ingvar Ronde is living in the town of Malmö at the southern tip of Sweden. Although he has a degree in ecomomics from nearby Lund University, he has never really worked in that field. But this education will certainly have helped him to start his own publishing business that he is running now. He has been a writer and publisher for the past twenty years, but during ten years of that time he was also the owner of a chain of outdoor equipment stores in Sweden. And as if this was not enough, he was also hosting a radio show for six years featuring American and English dance band music from the 1920s and 1930s.
Working frome home allows him to share company with his dog while the rest of the family are out for the day. As the owner of MagDig Media Ltd., Ingvar Ronde has been publishing the Malt Whisky Yearbook annually since 2006. The yearbook has earned a solid reputation for extensive and unbiased information about what has been happening in the whisky world. But he is not left alone compiling data and writing articles. A team of renowned whisky experts such as Ian Buxton, Dominic Roskrow or Hans Offringa to name but a few, is joining him in order to be able to encompass as wide a spectrum of topics as possible.
Gathering informations for the Malt Whisky Yearbook, Ingvar is traveling to many whisky events and of course also to whisky distilleries. This summer he visited Taiwan to see the King Car distillery that produces the much lauded Kavalan single malt whisky.
But Ingvar is not only a dedicated whisky aficionado, his other hobby is birdwatching which he has been doing on and off since the early 1970s. He likes to tell a nice anecdote from the Scilly Isles where he once went with his brother. They were the two only foreigners among a whopping 500 British Birdwatchers all wearing more or less the same attire, all lined up with their spotting scopes pointing to a rare American bird that had landed in a cottage garden. This truly must have been an amazing sight.
What gave you the idea to publish a yearbook about whisky?
The short answer is that there wasn´t any Yearbook on the market. Many of us whisky drinkers are really passionate about the subject and we all love to keep track of what´s happening. A lot of this information can be found through many of the excellent (and some not so excellent) sites and blogs but it does take quite a lot of time searching for this and it´s impossible to get the whole picture from one site. Apart from that I also decided to allow space in the Yearbook where I look forward and try to cover future trends.
You have assembled a team of high profile writers for the book. How did you get to know them?
From the start, I decided to divide the Malt Whisky Yearbook into three segments – articles by well-known whisky profiles specifically written for the Yearbook, an extensive Distillery Directory covering all malt whisky distilleries of the world and finally lists and statistics. For the first part I consulted Ulf Buxrud, who happens to live in the same town as I do. I think Ulf is known to most of the readers of this blog. Apart from writing a couple of great whisky books he is also a Keeper of the Quaich and he knows the crème de la crème of whisky people around the world. For the first edition of the Yearbook, he put me in contact with some of them and after the first couple of books it has never been a problem finding knowledgeable people who wanted to contribute.
Can you tell us how you fell in love with whisky?
A friend and I took a trip to England in 1980 and although we had decided we would spend most of the time in London, we changed our plans and took the Flying Scotsman up to Inverness. We rented a car and started to explore The Whisky Trail. At that time, malt whisky hadn´t taken off the way it would a decade later but there were a handful of distilleries that had started to cater to visitors already then. When I came home I started to explore the small range of whiskies that was available at the time through the Swedish alcohol monopoly and when the first edition of Michael Jackson´s Companion was published in the late 80s I was hooked for good.
Mackmyra whisky has had quite some international success. Are there any other whisky distilleries in Sweden?
Mackmyra was first, as you know, but as I write this there are two other distilleries that produce malt whisky on a regular basis – Spirit of Hven and Smögen. There are also a couple of other ventures where malt whisky has been distilled on a more irregular basis and another four distilleries that are about to start this autumn. So, all in all, Sweden has really put its flag on the whisky map!
Swedish whisky lovers seem to have a comparatively high affection for peated malts. Do you have an explanation for it?
If I only got a dram for every time I´ve been asked that question! Sometimes it has been explained by the weather here in Sweden with rather harsh and cold winters and so you need something with a punch to get the spirits going. Another explanation is that we in the Nordic countries have a genetic taste for it. We are among the few people in the world who enjoy salty liquorice and the same taste buds might well appreciate also the peated whiskies.
1. Please share a memorable whisky moment with us. This might be a fantastic dram, someone you met or any other situation that left a deep impression in your memory.
It´s really tough to single out just one. I have met so many dedicated people, especially travelling the Scottish distilleries and to be quite honest it is often these meetings that stick to your mind rather than an exceptional dram. Walking around Glenmorangie together with Bill Lumsden was a great experience that taught me a lot and so did one of my more recent trips to Kavalan distillery in Taiwan this summer. My visit to Orkney and Highland Park also comes to mind. Not just for the distillery and the hospitality but also for the amazing history of the islands.
2. What percentage of your life do you dedicate to whisky (sleep ignored)? Do you think it should be more or less, or is it just about right?
During the most hectic months before the new Yearbook is printed, it is more or less the only thing I do (except of course being with my family). As for the rest of the year, I keep a rather good balance between whisky and other stuff. I attend five or six whisky shows every year and try to keep track of what´s happening as a preparation for the next edition.
3. Your three tips for whisky novices
First tip – keep an open mind. Try not to limit yourself to just single malts or to just peated whiskies. There are so many different expressions of whisky to explore.
Second tip – try to find friends that share the same interest. It´s so much more fun to enjoy whisky in good company.
Third tip – like good old Bob Dylan used to say, “Don´t follow leaders”. Learn about the facts from experienced people but don´t be obedient when they try to tell you how you should enjoy your whisky. You know that better than they do or at least you will after a while.
4. Your three tips for experienced whisky lovers
First tip – visit as many distilleries as you can and talk to the people making the whisky. You´ll find out that there is more than one way to make whisky and this will help you appreciate different kinds of whisky in the future.
Second tip – a lot of your friends who are whisky newbies probably look up to you and listen to you. That makes you a whisky ambassador so be generous with your tips but please be careful how you address the subject. What we don´t need are other people looking at us as whisky snobs.
Third tip – start a distillery of your own. If you succeed, you´ll end up in the next edition of Malt Whisky Yearbook. [Editor’s note: a blog might do the job as well…]
5. What was the last dram you had and how did you like it?
OK Oliver, give me space for three drams here;
Finealta from Glenmorangie – a beautiful dram that was both so Glenmorangie and at the same time with lots of new features that surprised me!
Yamazaki 18 year old – hadn´t tried that for a year or so but suddenly remembered why I consider it one of the best whiskies in the world.
Caperdonich – an independent bottling distilled in 1973 I believe. I was offered that at a whisky show in Stockholm a couple of days ago and it was awesome. It makes you sad that this distillery is now beyond rescue.