11 June 2019

Whisky Insiders Interview No.96 - Dave Worthington

That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Global Brand Ambassador


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
It’s really not been that long! I worked my first whisky show at Whisky Live London 2013. I called Chip Tate up of Balcones and asked if he needed any help. Chip gave me my first break volunteering to help out at the stand in return for whisky heels. That continued over a number of years, with Balcones and Wemyss Malts, and I stood in at different stands over the years to give the official ambassador a break. I gave up my engineering career in October 2016 to work full time with Boutique-y Whisky, after covering their UK shows since Whisky Live London 2013.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Everyday is a highlight to be honest. I pinch myself every morning to make sure it's not a dream. I had no intention of changing careers, but every event I worked at drew me closer to the inevitable.

My biggest career highlight to date has got to be being nominated and then winning World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year 2018, and being awarded an 'Icon of Whisky.' Mind blowing stuff to be nominated so early on into my new career. I was nominated again this year, but I was really pleased to see it awarded to Yumi Yoshikawa of the Chichibu Distillery. Yumi had my vote!

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I can indeed and it really wasn't all that long ago too. The first whisky that I took seriously was in the run up to Christmas 2009 when my Sales Manager came in to work with a special whisky. I seriously needed my arm twisting to try it too. It was a 15 Year Old Clynelish from Cadenhead’s.

It wasn't the whisky that changed my life, but I remember it clearly. The following year he brought in another bottle for Christmas. It was another Cadenhead's release, a 15 Year Old Caol Ila distilled in 1991, bottled in May 2006, and one of just 378 bottles. I didn't need my arm twisting this time! It was like nectar, and I thought to myself, why aren't I drinking this stuff. I was given the heel to take home and shortly afterwards I went out and bought my first ever bottle of whisky. Not long after Whisky Discovery was born (the blog I started) and my journey into the whisky industry began.

What does whisky mean to you?
To me whisky is all about people. I've met so many wonderful people who love to share their whiskies and stories with you. The passion starts at each distillery. Everyone involved with making the whisky is passionate about what their distillery does, and are so proud of their whisky. At the same time, the support and camaraderie within the industry is infectious. I love people and I love whisky. Whisky people are therefore the best!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Alive and kicking! I love what I do, so hopefully I'll still be sharing my passion for whisky all around the world!

What was your last dram?
I've just come back from Islay and so have had a multitude of recent Boutique-y releases from the whisky island. I took over a selection for the Indie Whisky Feis Ile, the first ever whisky festival for independent bottlers during the Feis held at Bowmore Hall.

This evening, I'm heading back to Speyside or the Eastern Highlands for something lighter. Probably a Linkwood, Glen Moray, Glen Garioch or Macduff.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Speyside whiskies and vintage cheddar cheese always work for me. I've been really impressed with our recent batches from the Glen Moray and Linkwood distilleries, all between 10 and 12 Years Old, and a good block of vintage cheddar. With summer BBQ’s on the horizon, some fresh mackerel and a lightly smoked whisky, like a Talisker, is another perfect match for me. Some of our big heavy Springbanks go so well with a chocolate dessert too.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
The best place to enjoy a dram is always with friends, old, or new friends. I've shared many a dram over the internet through your very own Tweet Tastings over the years before changing careers. These online tastings bring people from up and down the country (and occasionally, the world) for a couple of hours, experiencing new releases together. I always enjoyed the banter during these tastings when unable to get out and meet people after a busy at work. I have gone on to meet so many of the fellow tasters over the years, and we've shared many drams in real life too.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I'm not a whisky maker, and making whisky you need to be looking far into the future for trends. I would love to see more people drinking whisky, and feel that blended whiskies should make a comeback, certainly over here in the UK. While I’m not a great cocktail drinker I really appreciate the passion behind the people that create them. I do love highballs though. Whisky highballs are perfect summer serves, and even I can get them right! I find myself ordering Highballs, or a Scotch and Soda more often than a pint these days!

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
I always used to say my desert island dram was the Balvenie 21 Year Old Portwood, and it is a seriously good whisky, but I don't think I can pinpoint it down to one whisky anymore. I think I'm still leaning towards lighter Speyside whiskies, but when asked what my favourite whisky is, my usual reply is 'normally the next one!'

Working with an independent bottler like Boutique-y Whisky, I'm always looking forward to the next release, whether it be from our Scottish distilleries, or our new world whiskies. There is so much interesting whisky available at the moment.

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