20 September 2012

Whisky Insiders Interview - Gordon Dundas

Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd

Brand Ambassador


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I've been working in the whisky industry since 2003. My first job was with Paragraph Publishing, the publishers of Whisky Magazine and the organisers of Whisky Live.
My time at Whisky Magazine gave me a unique perspective of the industry and it was one of the best groundings possible. Working with the likes of the late and wonderful Michael Jackson, Dave Broom, Dominic Roskrow and Rob Allanson really is something that cannot be replicated.
Since October last year I've been with Morrison Bowmore Distillers, where I get the chance to liaise with my colleague and Malt Master Iain McCallum, and also spend time with our Master Blender Rachel Barrie, who has such a wealth of experience in the industry.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
One of my highlights was starting Whisky Live New York and Toronto, in cities that I didn't know too well. It was scary at times and was a challenge to say the least, but ultimately very rewarding and both shows are now hugely successful.
I think with Morrison Bowmore, my highlight is every time I go into the No.1 Vault at Bowmore, and see the whiskies resting in this unique warehouse. I did get to sample the Bowmore 1964 Fino release this year, which I am blessed to have had the chance to do. It has that wonderful tropical fruitiness which is so apparent in Bowmore’s of this era. A sample opportunity of the upcoming Bowmore 1957 release, not so sure!
I also remember the time I was sitting on the porch of Knob Creek House at Jim Beam’s distillery in Kentucky, watching the world go by with their Master Distiller Fred Noe. A true gent!
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
My first dram of single malt was a great one, a Glenfarclas! I was at a party at a friend’s flat, as you do when studying hard at University, and there was a cask strength Glenfarclas on the table. So I thought why not try it, and after doing so I was struck not only by its rich fruity flavours but also the strength and robustness of it. But once I had added a little water it really worked for me.
What does whisky mean to you?
Whisky means amazing quality and variety. When you go into your local supermarket and you think of all the products available in there, nothing takes longer to produce or in my view has the quality of whisky.

Wood is so important and has raised the quality of single malt, and I emphasise this point a lot in my masterclasses. Then if you think of the variety available across even our portfolio due to regionality and wood such as the small batch Tempest releases from Bowmore and the rich and luxurious Three Wood from Auchentoshan, then there really is a whisky for everyone!
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
As ever not sure what is round the corner, but I am seriously enjoying my current role, and I never stop learning or travelling. I would like to take the knowledge and experience that I have acquired and indeed still to acquire across the category, to further both myself and Morrison Bowmore.
What was your last dram?
Last night I did a Bowmore Taste of Islay tasting at Albannach in Trafalgar Square in London, and we finished with the Bowmore 18yr. It’s a triumph of complexity with exceptional soft fruit flavours, creamy, silky mouthfeel and a long soft finish with hints of signature Bowmore smoke. Lovely!
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I think for me I have to say I have two. I love Glen Garioch Founders Reserve with a cheese called Comte (a French cheese made with unpasteurised Cow’s milk). The cheese is sweet and nutty and provides a great base for the clean, fruity and spicy flavours of this fantastic highland whisky. But also an Islay fresh Oyster with a drop of Bowmore 12yr is simply superb!
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
As you can imagine, I do enjoy whiskies all over the place with my job but as long as I am with friends then I can enjoy whisky! That is not precluding of course the odd dram by myself from time to time! Whisky I think is a drink that can be shared and enjoyed but also has a place to be discovered by your nose in a quiet corner.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Going forward, I think the next big thing is Asia maybe unsurprisingly. India and China have so much potential that I think the single malt industry really is unsure of quite how big it could be. But of course it is not as simple as that and like any business we need to be careful to ensure the long standing health of the single malt category. Like most producers, we are distilling for the future at the moment to service these emerging whisky markets but not forgetting of course the more mature markets worldwide.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
I will be honest, hard to choose but if pushed, I think it is the Bowmore 12yr. I love the balance of it. It has a little bit of everything in terms of cask flavours from the predominantly ex Bourbon casks, along with the signature sea salt tang and smoky house style of Bowmore. It truly is a great dram!
Many thanks to Gordon Dundas. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!