31 May 2018

Whisky Insiders Interview No.89 - Ken Lindsay

Chivas Brothers

International Brand Ambassador


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I am very fortunate to have worked in this unique and amazing industry for 30 years this year, which is virtually half my life! The best half obviously! As a brand ambassador for 23 years.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Among many unforgettable highlights during a 30-plus year career in Scotch whisky, I would have to say launching some stunning brands like Ballantine’s 21 Year Old in the early 1990’s, innovating with grain whisky and blended malts during the same period under the Ballantine’s brand label and more recently supporting the launch of the Ballantine’s Single Malt series. I get a particular satisfaction seeing “my babies” reaching the shelves and delighting our loyal consumers around the world!

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
My first ever taste of Scotch whisky was a surreptitious nip of The Antiquary 12 Year Old from my father’s drinks cabinet! Apparently, it was his whisky of choice when my twin sister and I were christened, way back in 1959! I probably didn’t really appreciate Scotch whisky untill I joined the industry in my late 20’s.

What does whisky mean to you?
Scotch whisky means so many things to me. It epitomises our wonderful Scottish culture in all its richness and diversity. It is synonymous with the inherently Scottish traits of generosity, conviviality and friendship, with a phenomenal international reach. It’s also a huge source of pride when I travel round the world extolling the virtues of our unique brands such as Ballantine’s, Chivas, The Glenlivet and Aberlour.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Ideally, I will be sitting on a beach in the Algarve with my wife Ina, enjoying the finest Portuguese seafood, sipping some crisp local vinho verde and maybe even entertaining the locals in my best Portuguese with some impromptu whisky tastings, purely for fun!

What was your last dram?
My last dram was a sublime Aberlour 10 Year Old, in the spring sunshine, under Linn Falls above Aberlour distillery with 18 charming Russian guests from Kazan, Tatarstan. An unbeatable location to enjoy an unbeatable dram.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
There are a few which I particularly enjoy. Scapa Skiren is a delightful accompaniment to langoustines and other fresh Orkney seafood like hand-dived scallops. Aberlour 18 Year Old is perfect with a cold-smoked venison salad, and another cracking combination is The Glenlivet Nadurra Peated Cask Finish paired with a local Scottish cheese selection with oatcakes.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
I enjoy sharing drams from our portfolio around the world with like-minded enthusiasts. I have been so fortunate to travel to more than 75 countries during my whisky career and I adore learning about different cultures, customs and languages. Standing round the atmospheric fire pit at Linn House in Keith in the early evening, with a dram of Chivas Ultis shared with some good friends is also pretty special.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I think with a growing appreciation of the versatility of Scotch whisky and its myriad flavours and styles, more consumers will be confident about breaking down the “perceived” barriers to entry into the category. I strongly believe it is beholden on the industry and its “expert” commentators to also play their part in “demystifying” whisky and amplifying the joys of simply tasting good scotch to a wider audience.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
The iconic Ballantine’s 17 Year Old blended Scotch! As a young(ish) International Marketing Manager for Ballantine’s Prestige range in the early 1990’s, I was introduced to this outstanding whisky by none other than Jack Goudie, the Ballantine’s Master Blender. In a career lasting 50 years with Hiram Walker and subsequently Allied Distillers, Jack was quoted often as saying “You may find an older whisky, but you’ll no’ drink a better whisky!” If it’s good enough for Jack, it’s certainly good enough for me 28 years later!

Many thanks to Ken Lindsay. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!