Interview with Mahesh Patel of the Universal Whisky Experience

Johnny Dilawis
4 min readMay 23, 2017

There are a few people in the industry that are as well known as Mr. Mahesh Patel, who is not only a world renowned collector but also an advocate for the Universal Whisky Experience. His event is one of the biggest events in terms of the type of whisky that is consumed but also the demographic of the people who attend. We had the honor to speak with Mr. Patel.

Mr. Mahesh Patel, can you please tell us a little about yourself. What were you involved in before starting up the Universal Whisky Experience?

MP: I am civil/structural engineer by profession and by in the early nineties I started up a commercial construction/development company based in Atlanta. I still have this business.

What was your vision for the Universal Whisky Experience. Why did you start this company? Did you see a gap in the market or was it to fulfill some passion? Maybe both?

MP: I have been passionate about whisky for over thirty years. About 8 years ago I saw a need for a luxury whisky experience company, simply, because no one was providing this service for me and my like minded whisky connoisseurs. So yes I saw a gap in the market, but also to fulfill my personal passion.

Universal Whisky Experience has a steep price tag, but the event always garners a full house of whisky aficionados. What do you attest to the success of this event?

MP: Yes our price point is high, but we also provide an experience that warrants that. Our culture at UWE is to provide quality personable service, products and experience to our guests. This is reflected in all our events and is the reason why we have developed a loyal following.

Mr. Patel, your name is pretty known in the whisky collectors circle, can you tell us why you decided to become a seasoned collector?

MP: First came my passion for enjoying whisky and discovering different types of whisky. This led to collecting, but I follow one principle, which is to buy at least two bottles of everything I can afford. One to open and enjoy and the other to hold back.

What is it about whisky that appeals to you?

MP: Whisky as spirit is such a wide ranging product with all its regional differences that I love constantly discovering new expressions. In fact even after thirty years I still have a lot to try out. This is what appeals to me about whisky.

Whiskey with an E or without?

MP: I do not discriminate either is fine, because both lead to the liquid gold!

On the rocks or neat?

MP: I prefer a few drops of pure water to open the spirit. Rocks only with a whisky cocktail.

Do you remember you first dram, can you tell us about it?

MP: Yes I do. This was when I was 18 or 19 back at university in the UK. It was a Glenfiddich 12yo my first real taste of a quality whisky. Prior to that I had tried some of the cheaper blends of the day, but found them very harsh.

The American Whiskey market has exploded with such whiskey’s as Hirsch 16, Ezra Brooks 15 and Pappy being highly coveted and more so, hard to afford. Do you feel this bubble will burst or should we stock up and ride the wave?

MP: I do not think the bubble will burst, simply because stocks of quality aged products are getting limited.

Mr. Patel, it’s not surprise to anyone that you’ve had some amazing drams, tell us your Top 3:

MP: Ardbeg Provenance

Original Black Bowmore from 1964

Glenfiddich 55yo Janet Sheed Roberts

What is your everyday go to dram?

MP: I do not have one, but here are some:

Highland Park 18yo

Balvenie 21yo Port Wood

Blade and Bow

Dalmore King Alexander

Redbreast 15yo

Royal Salute 21yo

Finally, can you share with us some tips and what to look out for when trying to become seasoned whisky collectors?

MP: First and foremost is to try everything you buy, because the whisky must drink well. Then look for products from iconic, well known distilleries. Buy products that are limited releases and make sure that the whisky writers have rated them well. There are many products you can buy every year that are affordable to collect so buy them.