The Scotch Whisky Experience
Head of Marketing
How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
Just over 20 years. I have loved working in that unique space between whisky and tourism, it has to be the ultimate combination for a Scot! Both industries are exceptionally collaborative on one level or another and that element really broadens your horizons and makes every day different.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
That is a really difficult question to answer. I am going to cop-out and give you a few. Co-blending our 21st anniversary blend with my colleague under the watchful eye of William Grant’s Master Blender was phenomenal, culminating in a 10cl sample bottle which passed all the critics and made it to bottling. Having never worked in production I was pretty sure that there would be a substantial gap between theory and practice, but we got it right!
Launching our new tour following our biggest ever investment in 2009 was also incredibly exciting. It was the culmination of a huge amount of work, lots of research together with a few risks and leaps of faith so the success that it met with was both a delight and a relief! It has also provided the springboard for annual investments throughout the business allowing us to go from strength to strength.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I can remember my first drams in the plural. Early entries in the list that intrigued and beguiled me were Longmorn, Bruichladdich, GlenDronach, Talisker, Highland Park and Lagavulin. I can remember trying each one for the very first time and truly picking up distinguishable unique flavours. That was it…no turning back!
I can also clearly remember that this led on to sending a gift of a bottle Lagavulin to try to convince my partner of the time to follow me home to Scotland and settle here… it worked!
What does whisky mean to you?
I believe that every whisky is really a story. It is the essence of that moment in time when it was first casked, locking in the skill of the people who made it, but changing and softening and adapting and taking on the effects of the little world around it. This is what we all do as time passes and it creates our own stories and that of the whisky.
When the time comes we ship the bottle off to who knows where, like an invitation from Scotland to discover the story and perhaps even retrace the whisky’s voyage to discover its origins. I strongly believe that everyone that works in the Scotch whisky industry has the same ultimate responsibility: to create or to tell that story.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Hosting more and more fascinated press and media from all over the world and converting them to Scotch whisky. Telling more stories!
What was your last dram?
To be honest I’m not sure as it was hidden in a hip flask for a chilly day at the rugby. I think it was a Glenlivet Nadurra.
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Yes! I love whisky and food at the end of a meal with dessert of cheese. My ultimate pairing is quite specific so maybe not for everyone: Hotel du Chocolat hazelnut praline with a touch of chilli chocolate paired with Dalmore 18 Year Old, and I also love Hebridean Blue cheese with Lagavulin 16 Year Old.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Always in company because whenever I drink whisky I want to talk about it! That usually means at the end of a meal at home with friends, passing round glasses, trying new derivations and exchanging contrasting views!
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Whisky tourism! It is time for it to really start booming. We’ll soon see even great floods of visitors taking us up on the invitation to discover Scotch whisky’s homeland.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
From a taste point of view there are so many I love that I think I would cope! But there are two which I just love to see whenever I travel as sort of “calling cards” for Scotland and I would be gutted not to see them championing us all over the world; Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal. From my marketing point of view I just love the brands.
Many thanks to Julie Trevisan Hunter. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!