Interview: Selim Evin’s Chapter 7

All the world’s a stage,
And all the man and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His act being seven ages.
William Shakespeare – As you like it – Act II, Scene VII

Born in 1564 (a mere 69 years after the first written mention of whisky), William Shakespeare created literary art that inspires people till this very day. One of those people was Selim Evin. A born in Turkey natural entrepreneur, living in France, with roots in Scotland. Who started the Independent Bottling company “Chapter 7” in 2014, in Switzerland.

Scottish roots

It was Selim’s grandfather that gave Selim his Scottish roots. His grandfather had worked as an expat for most his life, and despite being far away from home he never lost his love for the country of his birth and its national drink. He had a great passion for Scotch whisky and when he took Selim for a trip to Scotland, Selim soon came to share that passion.

His grandfather wasn’t a whisky geek as we see them nowadays. Information wasn’t as readily available back then (without the internet) but it was the feeling of home and the thought of his friends that worked at distilleries that kept his spark for Scotch whisky alive.

During the trip Selim and his grandfather visited several distilleries and there he saw the passion it evoked not just in his grandfather, but in the industry as a whole. And thus, when he got the chance to turn this passion into his job a few decades down the road… Selim didn’t have to think twice.

Swimming against the stream

In 2004, Selim had founded Squarefish. A seafood processing company that he had successfully build up until 2013 when his partner offered to buy him out. Even though the company was very successful, Selim decided to take his partner up on the offer. Because in truth it had never really held his passion. He might have been successful as an entrepreneur at Squarefish, but he wanted to start selling something that he could feel passionate about. And that, of course, had to be whisky.

The founding of Chapter 7

Only a couple of months after Selim said goodbye to Squarefish he founded Chapter 7. An Independent Bottling Company that married his passion for whisky, with his passion for literature. For Selim, one of the most magical things about whisky has always been the stories it can tell. A cask of whisky is a living, breathing thing. And throughout it’s life it builds up different components that can combine into an enthralling tale once you pour the liquid in your glass.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.
William Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet – Act II, Scene II

The name Chapter 7 was inspired by literature as well. At the time that Selim was thinking of a good name for his new whisky company, he was reading a passage from “As you like it” by William Shakespeare, where he happened upon the monologue “The seven ages of man”. This monologue describes the stages of life a man or woman goes through, and Selim recognised the same stages applied to whisky. From the mewling and puking infant in the nurse’s arm, past the whining schoolboy, the lover, the soldier, the justice, and the lean and slippered pantaloon, all the way back to a second childishness, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything.

The stages of life

Just like mankind, whisky has a life of its own and though it has beauty in several stages of its life, which story it will tell depends on when you decide to bottle its spirit. It’s the independent bottlers job to bottle the whisky when it sits at it’s prime, or in other words, when it has its best story to tell.

So, to answer William Shakespeare’s age-old question, what’s in a name?… In the case of Chapter 7 it says quite a lot about the product you’ll get to taste. With any other name on the label the liquid inside would have been just as delicious. But the name Chapter 7 assures you that you’re getting more than just a whisky. You’re getting the story of a whisky in it’s prime.

A foreword to the world of whisky

For my first Explorers Pack I selected the Peated Prologue offering from Chapter 7 because I think it offers a beautiful and well-balanced entry into their line-up. Something that will suit the beginner’s palate, but still holds enough complexity for the seasoned whisky aficionado. On their own website Chapter 7 call it “a foreword to the world of whisky” and that’s a description I can get behind.

Because of how limited the Monologue series from Chapter 7 are, Selim wanted to create a product that was available to a wider audience. For their Prologue series, he decided to create both a peated and an unpeated blend. With the Peated Prologue he decided to go for a lightly peated style of whisky, so that newcomers to the category had a dram to ease them into the category. For most people peated whisky is something you must learn to appreciate after all. Though there are of course always exceptions, some people fall head over heals for heavily peated whisky after their very first sip. But that seems to be the exception that proves the rule.

What else is there to discover

If you’ve tasted the Peated Prologue from my Explorers Pack and just like me you fell in love with the flavour profile and philosophy of Chapter 7, you might like to know what else they have on offer. And the good news is that they have plenty to choose from.

While the Prologue series might be the perfect place to start from, you can easily take it up a notch by having a look at their Anecdote series. Made in smaller batches than the Prologue series, these blended malts are creations made of unusual and/or rare whiskies.

When you’ve truly become enamoured with the whisky philosophy of Selim’s Chapter 7 though, it’s time to have a look at their Monologue series. Whiskies bottled from a single cask, captured in a bottle at the perfect time. Just choose a bottle from a distillery you like, pour the monologue into your glass, and listen to its story as you drift away in time.

Every monologue sooner or later becomes a discussion.
Graham Green – The Heart of the Matter

The above quote is one that Chapter 7 uses on their own website to describe their Monologue Series, and I thought it such a perfect fit that I decided to use it here as well. Because indeed, just like a Monologue, these whiskies are something that will spark discussion. Whether you enjoy them by yourself or in the company of others, they tell stories that you will want to share. To explore the dram further, by having a good discussion about it.

But there is more…

Currently Selim is working hard on creating a new range, one that will be exclusively available through their website. This series will be called “Spirit Library” and aside from whisky it will also include other spirits. In fact, some of the first releases in this line-up will be some high-quality Cuban rums. Living in France Selim has made many friends amongst people in the French Liquor Industry as well, so he is hoping to include some Cognacs and Armagnacs in the “Spirit Library” as well. So, as you can tell, there’s plenty to look forward to when it comes to Chapter 7.

The next chapter

As you could perhaps already tell, Chapter 7 and Dram1 seem to be a match made in heaven. Selim and I both share the same passion for the stories a whisky can tell and thus I was over the moon that I could include the Peated Prologue in my first Explorers Pack. But hopefully it doesn’t end there…

In the future I’d love to include another Chapter 7 bottling in my line-up, a Monologue or perhaps even (if I’ve managed to secure a few more restaurants) a Spirit Library entry exclusive for Dram1? The latter is just a dream for now, but a Monologue should be a possibility for the near future. If you’d like to see more Chapter 7 whiskies in the Explorers Pack, please do let me know in the comments down below!

For those who’d like to meet Selim themselves sometime, I have good news as well. He will be present at the Hogshead Imports stand at Whisky Tasting Festival Utrecht on the 16th of September and there’s still some tickets available!

Get your tickets for WTF Utrecht here!

Eager to meet some Dutch whisky fans Selim even offered the possibility to organise a masterclass with Chapter 7 whisky’s when he’s here in the Netherlands, so let me know if you’d be interested and if we can get a nice group of people together, we’ll do our best to make it happen!

Closing words

People like Selim are a treasure to the whisky industry, because their passion for the product is truly inspirational. After talking for about an hour and a half with Selim, I certainly felt inspired, and I can’t wait to meet the man behind the brand himself in real life.

I stated it before and I will say it again, I am a huge fan of the link Selim makes between his Chapter 7 whiskies and literature. And on that note, I’d like to end this article on my favourite whisky quote. Even though it’s not a quote from a literary figure, it is from a man with an inspirational passion for whisky who knew how to put that love into words.

Whisky making is an act of cooperation between the blessings of nature and the wisdom of man.
Masataka Taketsuru

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