It occurs to me, as we chat, that the way Sir Rod Stewart naturally speaks — a low-throated, gravelled half-garble, punctuated by a rasping laugh — must be the perfect foil for drunkenness. If you slur anyway, who can blame it on the booze?
Happily, the Young Turks singer is not one of those old rockers who has given up the wild years. “I’m not so far short of the drinking we did in the Seventies,” says Stewart, who is clearly putting in a decent shift for a 78-year-old. “The band all sit around after the show for a few drinks. The girls are on the whisky and the guys are coming round to it.”
Stewart’s cheerful love of a good time now sees him hop on the celebrity booze bandwagon with Wolfie’s, a blended Scotch. It’s a tie-in that works neatly. Stewart is half-Scottish and famously a lifelong Celtic fan; it was at Celtic Park, 18 months ago, that the idea first got going. “A good friend of mine, [songwriter] John McLaughlin, introduced me to Duncan here, who said, ‘d’you wanna start a whisky?’ and I went ‘course!’”
Duncan is Duncan Frew, a veteran of the drinks industry, and now Wolfie’s CEO. “We’d had a few cocktails, and Celtic won that day, so you could say we were in good form…” he laughs. “We’re the Laurel and Hardy of the booze business,” is how Stewart puts it.
For the liquid itself, the pair headed to Loch Lomond distillery, chosen because of its ties to Stewart’s bagpipe-laden hit Rhythm of My Heart (its lyrics are branded of the bottle’s base). The aim, the pair say, was to make a Scotch as smooth as possible. They’ve succeeded: it’s built for ice or cocktails and tastes of vanilla, a little apple, a little velvet.
“It’s absolutely about those heady days in the Faces, when we were absolute rascals,” says Stewart. Given he was out partying with his then guitarist Ronnie Wood, they must have had a blurry time of it. “Oh, we loved every minute. We’d go out on an empty stomach just to get pissed quicker. We’d have port and brandies.” Wait — port and brandies? Isn’t Stewart a big scotch drinker? “Far from it, my friend,” he demurs. “I got totally drunk on it when I was about 15 and hadn’t touched it since, till now.”
Frew and Stewart are clearly fond of each other — Frew teases the singer about his favourite cocktail being an appletini — and evidently are having a laugh on this promo tour. “The other week, we were in Edinburgh Castle,” Frew says. “An hour and a half in, we had a conga line bouncing down the Royal Mile.”
But how does it compare to the Faces days on the road? “I remember we’d have girls who’d do anything to get into the hotel,” says Stewart. “One day when we were in Oz, I sat on the toilet, trousers round my ankles and I hear giggling from behind the shower curtain. There were these two girls, just as I was about to — well, it was disgusting. But then of course, I had to say, come on in…”
“And we’ve tracked those girls down,” kids Frew. “They’ve got Wolfie’s for life!”