25 October 2023

126th Whisky Insiders Interview - Annabel Thomas

Nc'nean Distillery
Founder and CEO

How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I’ve now been working in the whisky industry for 10 years.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
I think launching our first whisky back in 2020! The reception to the liquid and the bottle and our mission was fantastic, and it was made even better by the context of the charity auction of our first 10 bottles which raised £92,000 for five charities. 

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I can remember it but I can’t remember what it was! In fact it was rather momentous, as I spent most of my 20s not enjoying whisky at all and I finally started to like it just before a research trip to Islay, whilst in the early stages of planning Nc’nean. I finally tried a whisky I liked! But I can’t remember what it was! I obviously didn’t think at the time that I was going to go onto set up a distillery and this could be an important thing to take note of! 

What does whisky mean to you?
It means many things to me, now. It is my job, it is also therefore, much of my life, but it also to me represents Scottish heritage and history, and employment and culture, especially in remote communities. 

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Hopefully having made Nc’nean an even greater success than it is today! With greater brand recognition, an even more sustainable company, and hopefully having had a really positive impact on the sustainability of the whole category. 

What was your last dram?
A Nc’nean Whisky Six last night! It’s 2 parts whisky and 4 parts soda over ice. Delicious! Prior to that a dram in its neat form of Quiet Rebels Gordon, which we launched last week. 

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I don’t actually and it is something I would like to get more into. I have been served some absolutely fantastic whisky and food combinations, but I would like to develop my own, especially ones that complement Nc’nean specifically. Watch this space! 

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
That’s like asking which is your favourite child! One would be the Whisky Six I previously mentioned - at 6pm on a summers evening sitting outside somewhere beautiful. The other would have to be anywhere on the west coast of Scotland around a fire in the autumn (no midges then) with some friends and some music. 

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I hope it is going to be greater progress on sustainability – I’d particularly like to see the Scotch industry taking action on some of the more antiquated elements of the regulations that don’t sit comfortably with the 21st century – for example not allowing single malt to be sent in bulk outside of Scotland.  And not related directly to sustainability, but more a question of modernising, the ability for brands to be transparent about what goes into their bottlings – for example disclosing the age of the full make up of a bottle. 

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Nc’nean, obviously ;)

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