Our Sommelier of the Month for April 2019 is William Birch from Inverlochy Castle Hotel. William has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with his response.
What is your industry background?
I served on the former Royal Yacht Britannia, in the Georgian Restaurant Cameron House, Pompadour Restaurant in the Caledonian Hotel Edinburgh.
During my time in Norton House Hotel I started to compete in Sommelier of the Year competitions.
Spending time in Speyside at the Craigellachie Hotel helped improve my whisky knowledge. It’s hard not to like whisky when you are working in the home of the world’s most famous spirit.
My inspiration throughout my career comes in many forms and from many of the world’s top sommeliers, non-more so than the late, great Gerard Basset. I also found it amazing how the same wine changes through time even more how sometimes it doesn’t.
Assuming that you enjoy using Riedel glassware, do you have a favourite glass, and what reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in the different varietal specific glasses?
My favourite, I would have to say is the Montrachet in the Riedel Sommeliers range. It brings the flavours of the Montrachet together in a unique way. Our guests love the grape specific glasses, enquiring why the glasses are different on some tables, the Burgundy Grand Cru glass is the guests favourite. Good choice!
What would you give as one of your best experiences in your role as Sommelier of one of the Highland’s iconic properties?
Greeting regular guests back to the castle, the reaction of the guests when I have their favourite wine waiting for them at the table, even better if I’m presenting it in the Great Hall. The Glasses we use are the always grape specific glasses therefore the glass always changes with each favourite wine.
When did you first come in contact with Riedel Glasses?
Many years ago, I was competing in the “Sommelier of the Year Competition”, as part of the Regional Finals we were shown the full Riedel Sommeliers Collection and had to identify which glass would be used for each wine. You either disliked them after that or loved them. I was the latter!