When That Boutique-y Whisky Company released its independently bottled 24 year old Cameronbridge single grain Scotch whisky, there was only one man who was deemed fit to grace its label: Dr. Patrick Barrie, the British titan of tiddlywinks. He recently checked in to update us on his fabulous successes this year, and to thank us for sending him the TBWC Advent calendar.
“It was a very pleasant surprise. There was an informal gathering of a dozen top tiddlywinks players in Nottingham last weekend, and I let them take ‘pot-luck’ at choosing a whisky from it.” Ever the gentleman, Dr. Barrie and his tiddlywinks compadres clearly have impeccable taste.
A senior lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at Cambridge University, Dr. Barrie played his first game of Tiddlywinks at Cambridge as an undergraduate in 1984. If you told him at that time he would complete his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Cambridge in 1991, he’d probably be delighted and quite rightly proud of himself. If you had told him instead that he would end 2017 as the top rated tiddlywinks player in the world, he would probably have been rendered speechless, because... well... who wouldn’t?
Yet, our good friend Dr. Barrie did in fact achieve this remarkable goal, in the same year that he became the eight-time Tiddlywinks World Singles Champion. With typical modesty, he kindly acknowledges the undoubted influence That Boutique-y Whisky Company had on his form, and also gives a nod to his main American rival, Larry Kahn.
For those unaware of the sport, it shouldn’t be understated what an achievement this is. Tiddlywinks may have a playful name, but it’s all about manual dexterity, strategy and tactics, as Dr. Barrie will attest to. A tournament situation means seven hours of hard concentration and skill, and to get that far takes years of practice. Even our current world champion claims it “took me four years of hard playing before I threatened to win anything, and it was seven years before I actually did”.
What awaits in 2018 for Dr. Barrie, a man who makes bottle-fronting, advanced chemistry and world-class winking look easy? He told us he’s going to have to practice more so he has a shot at “retaining top spot for as long as I can”, and hopes to peak in late April, when he will need to defend both the World Singles title and the National Singles title. With typical self-effacement, Dr. Barrie ended his communication with, “It would be nice to keep at least one of these for another year.” The good doctor is already a hero to us here, and with the combination of his accomplishments and That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s support, hopefully more and more people will see him succeed.