30 November 2011

Whisky Insiders Interview - Jamie Milne


UK Brand Ambassador


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I grew up in Speyside and used to spend a lot of time in distilleries with my Dad, who was an exciseman. I’ve worked in the industry, on and off, for over 20 years. My first paid employment in the industry was from 1990-1994 when I was a tour guide at Glenfiddich during university summer holidays. I worked briefly on some Glenfiddich projects in Australia during a grown-up gap year in 2002 and rejoined the brand as UK Ambassador early in 2010.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
So many in such as short time, can I pick three? Being involved in the selection of the 2011 Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve, along with my ambassador colleagues from all around the world and our Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, we selected a 1974 vintage.

Being nominated for Whisky Ambassador of the Year after less than 18 months in the role, alongside such (true) Icons as Bill Lumsden, Colin Dunn and my colleagues Ian Millar and Sam Simmons. I was really pleased that Colin won – well-deserved.

Taking part in a live one-hour webcast from Glenfiddich distillery in late November 2011. If you missed it, visit www.distillerytasting.co.uk and you can see the recording.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I wish I could remember as I get asked this all the time. I think, because I grew up in and around distilleries, this was less of a ‘moment of discovery’ for me than for many other people and more of a part of life. My parents tell me they used to put whisky-soaked cotton wool on my gums to numb the pain when I was teething. At that time my dad was exciseman at a certain distillery in Windygates, so my first dram may well have been a single grain.

What does whisky mean to you?
It’s a great way to meet new people, start conversations and build relationships. I met my wife when we were both working as tour guides at Glenfiddich, so my life would have been very different were it not for whisky – Glenfiddich in particular!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
This is a really tough question, as there is no clearly defined career path for ambassadors. If you had asked me this question five years ago, I doubt I would have said Ambassador for Glenfiddich, as I was 15 years into a career in Management Consultancy and whisky was a hobby!

What was your last dram?
Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, last night. If you’re in the UK, you may never have heard of it, but it’s the second biggest brand of Irish Whiskey in the world and is number one in Eastern and Northern Europe. William Grant’s bought the brand in 2010 and it will be one to keep an eye out for as we start to bring more of the Original and 12yo blends into the UK from 2012.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I’m a bit of a chocoholic, so I was really excited to have the chance to meet with Paul A Young, one of the UK’s most innovative chocolatiers, a couple of months ago and even more excited when we agreed to work with Paul on his 2011 Winter season truffle, using Glenfiddich 15yo. If anyone’s wondering what to get me for Christmas.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Anywhere with friends or family.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
The growth of the enthusiast community online. New World whiskies from places such as Taiwan, Australia and continental Europe.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Glenfiddich 15yo (the artist formerly known as Solera Reserve) even before I took on this role, I would always have a bottle of this incredible dram in the house. Off-brand probably Mortlach, I have a couple of reliable suppliers of single cask bottlings.

Many thanks to Jamie Milne. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!