15 June 2016

Whisky Insiders Interview - Struan Grant Ralph

William Grant & Sons

Glenfiddich Global Brand Ambassador


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
In 1999 I started out as a bartender in Glasgow, when the big spirit of choice for me back then was rum. I definitely drank my fair share of daiquiris and rum manhattans, until about a year later when I first tasted Glenrothes with Ronnie Cox, at an event he was hosting. He had designed a tasting to appeal to us “youngsters” and it was eye opening. He described one of the expressions as the “vodka Redbull of single malts”. This got me thinking, that as a bartender from Speyside I should probably get into whisky.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Last year I was involved in the development and launch of a new expression of Glenfiddich in America. Being part of the team that created an entirely new variant of Glenfiddich from start to finish and then launching it across the country with some of my best friends, was not only a big career highlight but something I will remember forever.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
It was on top of a Munroe, one of Scotland’s highest mountains, from a hip flask that got passed to me with great reverence. I remember that the walk back down the hill was some of the best rambling I’ve ever done.
What does whisky mean to you?
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
I don’t know where but I do know that I would love to be doing this job, with a bigger team of Glenfiddich Ambassadors around the world and with more incredible opportunities to share our whisky and unique distillery with more and more people.
What was your last dram?
I’m at the distillery for most of June, so the drams are quite incredible. The last dram I had was the Hudson barrel aged Glenfiddich, which was this year’s Speyside Whisky Festival bottling.
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I think anything that talks to an individual palate is great, but for my palate particularly I have loved tastings with Chefs in Japan with the oil and texture of sashimi, it’s incredible. In the same way that chocolate and single malt is perfect. I have also grown very fond of a well paired cigar on special occasions.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
I feel like every whisky has its own unique time and place, sometimes the quiet whisky at the end of a long day is perfect. For me, any dram I get to have with my wife, when we know we have few days to relax in one place is very special.
What do you think are going to be the next big things on the whisky horizon?
Peated American single malts, more adventurous cask finishes, Scottish micro distilling, the continued innovation of grain to cask processes with a focus on energy efficiency and whiskies adaptation to our changing climate.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
The classic, the original, Glenfiddich 12 Year Old! From every airport lounge, dive bar, five-star hotel, it’s my ticket to a good drink almost everywhere I’ve been from Mongolia to Mexico. It’s mixable and sippable and the best introduction to Scottish single malt.
Many thanks to Struan Grant Ralph. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!