27 June 2012

Whisky Insiders Interview - Duncan Tait

Knockando Distillery

Distillery Manager


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I started 22 years ago as an Operator at Teaninich Distillery and have worked at many Diageo distilleries since then.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
There have been many great experiences but being offered the Manager role at Knockando and getting my signature on all the bottles within the Knockando range is definitely up there.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
My first experience was aged 18 months. My father had poured a dram and got up to get some water, whilst doing so I managed to consume the contents of his glass. Not a good way to start! After reaching the legal drinking age, the first whisky that I remember drinking was The Antiquary Blend. An altogether better experience.

What does whisky mean to you?
In the last 22 years, whisky has become a huge part of my life. There are few things more rewarding than talking to enthusiastic consumers about quality products that you have had a hand in producing.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
I would like to see myself in a similar role to today, but with a little more emphasis on consumer relations and education.

What was your last dram?
I am actually sitting with a 2011 Special Release Caol Ila 12 year old. It’s the unpeated one.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Many years ago, I was lucky enough to present a whisky and food session at Oban Distillery with Dr Jim Beveridge. One of the pairings was Lagavulin 16 year old with chillied Biltong, and it is a combination that I keep returning to again and again. The two complement each other perfectly.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
I love sitting on a cold winter evening in front of an open fire with a warming Lagavulin, being out on a hill with a hip flask or I am just as happy enjoying a dram in the pub with a group of friends.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Scotch whisky is in a great place at the moment and the world is becoming increasingly aware of the quality of our whiskies. I think that there will be an increase in the number of distilleries within Scotland to meet current levels of demand, and that more single malts will become available.  There will also be increased number of whisky / whiskey distilleries throughout the world, but competition is always welcome.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
I consider myself to be lucky to have come across and been involved in the production of some exquisite single malts in my time, so this is an extremely difficult question to answer. What I will say is that I always have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label in my house...

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