30 October 2013

Whisky Insiders Interview - Alan Winchester

The Glenlivet

Master Distiller


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
Since 1975, when I took a summer job as a distillery guide.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
That’s difficult, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been involved with so many exciting projects over the years.  When one is achieved, another comes along such as getting my first job and ultimately progressing to Brewer, Distillery Manager, and Distilling Manager, before being made the Master Distiller of The Glenlivet in 2009, which was of course an incredible honour.
Outside of the distillery, I’m proud to have been appointed Presidency of the Malt Distillers, Chair of the Scottish Section of The Institute of Brewing and Distilling and a Keeper of the Quaich. I hope it does not sound like a list of boasts, but I count all these as my highlights.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what is was?
My first memorable dram was an eight or nine year old Aberlour, poured from the old square bottle, when I was with family and neighbours on the evening of the Aberlour Highland Games.

What does whisky mean to you?
It’s a way of life for me!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Oh my goodness I have had a thought that I could be retired, but I do certainly hope to be involved in the whisky industry in some way, maybe writing a book about my experiences and the history of the industry.

What was your last dram?
Last night, I shared a dram with a new guide at Strathisla Distillery where we discussed the character of Strathisla 12.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Martine Nouet and Eric Obry at La Faisanderie opened my eyes over the years to this at our Whisky Dinners and is a particular favourite of mine, a sherried whisky with a chocolate pudding.

What is your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
A dram is so versatile; it can be enjoyed with friends anywhere… on top of a mountain, at a family gathering or with someone you have never met before. An old colleague once said to me: “let’s have a splash of an introduction”, which I live by.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I love this industry and I’ve been surprised and delighted over the years how certain trends can develop and we look forward to these things, as they add to the industry.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
A wee dram of The Glenlivet 18 Year Old with a splash of water.

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