4 April 2019
Whisky Insiders Interview No. 95 - Gregg Glass
The Whisky Works / Whyte & Mackay
Whisky Maker and Blender
How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I started in the whisky industry in the Summer of 1999, initially as a tour guide at my local Highland distillery and I knew then this was the industry I wanted to work in. Thereafter I had a number of other roles within whisky.
I later joined Compass Box and focussed on cask selection, quality control and whisky creation, becoming their Whisky Maker in 2005. Working alongside the team both past and present was great and I have a huge amount of pride and respect for what the company has achieved.
In December 2016, I joined Whyte & Mackay to work alongside Master Blender Richard Paterson.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Working alongside Richard is an obvious one but in terms of whisky development and creation, to start making and using Scottish oak casks built by Scottish Coopers through The Whisky Works project. This has been something I’ve been personally researching, trialling and developing for over a decade.
Visiting local sawmills, collaborating with the coopers, and developing with the Whyte & Mackay team as part of the launch of The Whisky Works, and specifically King of Trees, has been extremely rewarding.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
In my early teens, I remember tasting Glenmorangie 10 Year Old from my parents’ home drinks cabinet. My first pub dram was Black Bottle.
What does whisky mean to you?
It’s about people. From farmer or forester through to drinker. A particular aspect of this is the community of hardworking, dedicated and passionate individuals within the industry itself.
Whisky is about both appreciating the whisky and celebrating the many people involved in creating it. I see myself as a “hands-on” whisky maker. For me, to truly understand a craft you need both the knowledge and first-hand experience of the processes you manage. With The Whisky Works, we are closer to every part of the whisky-making process.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
I hope to be continuing to develop and share new concepts and flavour experiences, pushing the boundaries of whisky making and maturation. I hope to be travelling far and wide, seeking new collaborators to partner with and learn from. No doubt I’ll also be in and about a cask warehouse or a forest somewhere.
What was your last dram?
Kirin Fuji-Sanroku Signature Blend, made by Master Blender Jota Tanaka and his team. It’s fresh, sweet and vibrant!
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I love to experiment with different food combinations. My favourite pairing is cheese and charcuterie, but I also like to experiment with different sensations. One of which I’m re-visiting is Fizzy (carbonated) grapes infused with Jura Seven Wood.
There have however been some downsides with certain combinations, cleaning exploded whisky bananas off the walls being one!
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
I’ve got a great passion and love for nature, being outside sharing a dram with friends and family is great, whatever the weather. I’m particularly fond of being by the sea or a loch, either walking or fishing, and sharing a dram or two.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I’m excited about the start-up distilleries around the world, and seeing some of the innovations coming from them, it’s great to see our industry so vibrant. In the near future, I think there will be some other interesting developments coming from Ireland.
I’m also really excited about the many collaborations underway with other drinks creators such as wine and spirits makers and likeminded creators and innovators as part of The Whisky Works. Many of these are in development but suffice to say we’re excited to share some new and interesting creations in the future.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
What I’m nursing slowly at home at the moment are the last drops of Eleuthera by Compass Box Whisky, a real stunner of a dram with lots of magic!
Many thanks to Gregg Glass. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!