Whisky loving musicians bring experiential Scotch tasting to the Edinburgh Fringe

Two musicians with a taste for Scotch are heading to the Edinburgh Fringe this year to host the festival’s first ever show combining a gig with a whisky tasting.

Felipe Schrieberg and Paul Archibald combine music and whisky tasting in an unusual Edinburgh Fringe show. (Photo: Rhythm and Booze Project)

The Rhythm and Booze Project, a group known for hosting live music and Scotch sampling at Lagavulin and Caol Ila distilleries during the annual Feis Ile, is the brainchild of whisky writer Felipe (vocals and guitar) and Paul Archibald (drums). The pair are bringing their show to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time after launching their group in September 2018.

As a musical outfit, the band integrates blues, folk and roots music, “infusing hypnotic grooves with raucous energy and irresistible showmanship,” according to a statement sent through by the group.

The show is sponsored by a number of major names in the world of Scotch, including Islay’s Lagavulin and Bruichladdich distilleries, and Speyside’s Balvenie distillery – as well as smaller independent brands including bottler Dramfool and Edinburgh whisky shop Jeffrey St. Whisky and Tobacco.

Christy McFarlane, malts communication manager at Bruichladdich said it was an “honour to support” the Fringe debut, particularly as the pair’s musical tastings had proved so popular with visitors to the distillery in the past.

“Felipe and Paul bring such energy and enthusiasm to our Laddie Stage when they play for us each year at our Music and Malt Festival on Islay,” she said.

It comes as more and more spirits companies are investing in tastings with added value for the consumer. Edrington-owned Scotch distiller The Macallan recently teamed up with Monarch Air Group and Golden Yacht Charters to launch The Macallan Masters Journey, a private jet, yacht and whisky experience with prices starting at US$46,000. Diageo, meanwhile, is spending £150 million on a new immersive visitor experience in Edinburgh that aims to bring together the “four corners” of the industry.

“I think we’ve started doing what we do at the right time,” Schrieberg, founder of Whisky Business, whisky blogger for Forbes, and lead singer of Edinburgh-based band The Blueswater, told the drinks business. “We’re in a time when the industry is shifting over come to experience and personalisation.”

Whisky is a labour of love for the singer. He wrote his masters dissertation on sustainable distillation practices in whisky production, and incorporates whiskies from Islay into the show, the part of Scotland that first ignited his passion for whisky. Archibald’s academic credentials are on the music side of things. He recently earned a PhD in the history of jazz drumming from the University of Edinburgh, and has lectured students on both music and sociology in Bristol.

Typically, Schrieberg said, the Rhythm and Booze evenings are fairly informal, so the biggest challenge was “distilling (pun intended) what we do into a 70-minute show”.

“For us when we normally do an even we like to call it a combination of a gig, a tasting and a house party.”

(Photo: Rhythm and Booze project)

“We like to keep it informal and educational, but also leave room for people to be able to pick what they taste in their own order, or to approach us and ask questions, so it was a real challenge to condense that, but we think we’ve managed.”

While the Fringe event has more structure than Rhythm and Booze’s usual evenings, there are some things the pair will have to work out on the night. Schrieberg is also singing with his blues band throughout the Fringe, and with Rhythm and Booze booked in for 10 consecutive nights, Schrieberg might have to spit his whiskies to save his vocal chords.

“We were trying to work out how we’re going to do this because I will be singing. I think it’ll be clearer after the first few nights”

“If I don’t spit it’ll be a small sips worth. At this level I can’t do three drams a night!”

You can find out more about the Rhythm and Booze Project here.

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