16 January 2012

Whisky Insiders Interview - David Fitt

English Whisky Co.

Chief Distiller


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
About five years but I was in the brewing industry before that.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
The day we released the first English whisky for over 100 years back in December 2009. It was all a bit surreal but a real sense of achievement. The fantastic reception the whisky has had since also makes it all worthwhile.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
It was probably a Teacher’s as that’s what my granddad used to drink. When I smell that whisky now I still think of him, even though he has been dead for over 25 years. He was a lovely man and the smell brings back great memories. I miss him.

What does whisky mean to you?
It means my mortgage gets paid! Seriously though, whisky should be about fun, friends and happy times. I don’t hold with the view that whisky is an elitist drink, it’s just a drink that should be enjoyed.

I have done tastings where people who don’t like whisky have left the room a whisky drinker. It’s about perception of the product. It’s not about age, where it’s made, or who made it. It’s about one thing and one thing only, flavour! If you like the taste you like the whisky, it doesn’t matter what it is. I hate the ‘this is better than that’ view because it’s all a matter of purely personal opinion.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Hopefully still in the industry.

What was your last dram?
I know I am supposed to say one of my own whiskies at this point but in all honesty it was a Nikka from the Barrel. In my view a stunning Japanese whisky which I used in a tasting this afternoon.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
For me, Old Pulteney 12 Year Old and a small plate of those anchovy stuffed green olives is a match made in heaven.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Oddly, whilst I do really enjoy whisky, I am not a huge whisky drinker so I don’t really have one. Mind you, having said that, is there ever a bad time and place?

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Lots more small, UK based craft distillers.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
That’s the easiest question of the lot. I definitely couldn’t do without the crucial first cup of tea of the day. Although if pushed I’d say 18 Year Old Highland Park.

PS. If Gerry Tosh reads this he can send me a bottle for saying that!

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