Master Blender & Director of Quality
How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I’ve been working in the whiskey industry for 32 years now. I started in a distillery lab, then when there was an opening in the bottling department I took position. This is where I was first exposed to taste testing and from there I started work in the quality lab, gaining experience in manufacturing, supervision and management. I now also look after new product development.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Overseeing the birth of a global brand like Buffalo Trace is a definite highlight. To me this is old-fashioned brand building and we spend dedicated time getting it right. We work differently to some of the bigger companies that give a short deadline for new product success, we won’t throw away an idea just because it’s not an immediate profit maker and we work hard to maintain the consistency of our tasting profile. Growing something of this quality is about more than just taste consistency, we have created the most balanced of bourbons with Buffalo Trace.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
Wow, this is too long ago to remember but it was sweet!
What does whisky mean to you?
To me it’s an expression of myself, since I oversee every product we make. I have a lot of pride with what we offer customers.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Working towards the best whiskey | bourbon through tireless experimentation – when people ask me about retiring I laugh because I do what I love every single day. Where else would I want to be but here, working with a passionate, dedicated and inspiring team.
What was your last dram?
I was just in London for the first week of The Buffalo Bourbon Empire, a pop-up prohibition style bar and drank my last dram toasting goodbye to the UK team. It was to congratulate too, I was impressed to see such a great bourbon experience, including masterclasses and molecular mixology. There was a real curiosity and interest in the product and I think we showcased it well to drink connoisseurs as well spirit fans who don’t know as much about whiskey.
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I like most pairings, there is a pairing suitable for all moods and occasions!
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
A cocktail at home, in the evening with my wife Ellen.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Flavoured whiskies are trending right now, and I suspect they will continue to grow. Overall diversification is good because it helps introduce new audiences to whiskey and can help change people’s perception of the liquid. Consumers are also rediscovering quality cocktails, using quality bases, which is fantastic.
What’s the one-dram you couldn’t live without?
Buffalo Trace of course!
Many thanks to Drew Mayville. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!