10 May 2013

Whisky Insiders Interview - John Glass

Tamdhu / Ian Macleod Distillers

Malt Master


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I have been working for Ian Macleod Distillers for over six years now, starting as a blending assistant.  Before that I worked at the Scotch Whisky Experience, which was a good place to learn about the flavours, history and politics of the industry.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
There have been some great moments; working on the new Glengoyne range and helping re-launch Tamdhu Speyside single malt Scotch whisky are really up there.  My fondest memory is still quite early on in my career, when I was sitting three casks high in the dunnage warehouse of Glengoyne, looking out with a valinch and a case of bottles, realising I could taste any cask I needed to. It was a very surreal and joyful moment.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I had whisky and Irn Bru in my youth, but I don’t count that!  My first memorable experience of Scotch was in Ireland and I was given a Johnnie Walker Black to contrast with an Irish whiskey to see how much better Irish was than Scotch. It had the opposite effect and I started to drink a lot more Scotch. My first memorable single malt was Laphroaig 10 Year Old. I was given a bottle and hated it. Being a student though I kept drinking it and by half way through I was smitten!
What does whisky mean to you?
Whisky is a great way to explore the senses and emotions. From simple ingredients such depth of flavour are created and it is easy to get lost nosing a whisky, letting the imagination run wild.  I love to share the experience of a new whisky with friends, where you can talk, relax and learn all at the same time.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
I really enjoy working for Ian Macleod Distillers, they are a small family owned company and every day is different. I would be very happy to still be working for them and see some of the plans we are currently working on come into fruition.
What was your last dram?
The last dram I had was the Tamdhu 10 Year Old. It’s matured in only the finest oak sherry casks with natural Speyside water. I have recently come back from the Tamdhu re-launch event in Speyside and really enjoyed sharing our new dram with everyone who came along.
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I am a bit of a purist and like to give whisky my full attention, so I tend not to drink whisky during a meal. I like whisky before, a Glengoyne 10 Year Old for example, and after maybe a Smokehead, but I don’t get the full appreciation of the subtleties if I drink it with food.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Definitely in the evening, in my living room, after a hard day and sometimes with a guitar in hand. It’s very comforting and a reminder that life is good!
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I think we are going to see more and more companies bottling single malt at natural colour.  We have always bottled Glengoyne and will bottle Tamdhu at natural colour, because we feel if you have a quality single malt you should be proud of its colour. It’s better for the consumer as they have a clearer idea of what to expect in flavour terms by looking at the whisky.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
There are a lot of whiskies that bring a smile to my face; good bourbon, sherry and peat influence all have their place and would be missed. Glengoyne 10 Year Old and Isle of Skye 8 Year Old are my most common drams at home, but I think the Glengoyne 15 Year Old would be the one I choose.  Well rounded and complex, it commonly fits into my mood.

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