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INTERVIEW • 15


many of them and also from friends, and friends of friends, in Canada. So really, the blog began as a way to


answer all the questions I was receiving from friends and family about whisky without having to answer emails.


WHAT PROMPTED YOUR IDEA TO AIM FOR YOUR DAILY DRAMMING ‘MALT MISSIONS? In early 2007, I decided I would begin to taste my way through my whisky collection one dram at a time, telling the stories of the distilleries/blending houses and offering descriptive, rather than evaluative, tasting notes. I was working at The Whisky


Exchange [TWE – spirits shop in London], which came in very handy as my stock began to run out after about a month of daily dramming. Gradually, and organically, offers


began to come in from distillers and PR companies to send me samples.


WHEN DID YOU FIRST COME ACROSS THE SOCIETY ON YOUR WHISKY TRAVELS? The Society entered my life in Edinburgh in 2002 and I joined in 2003. At home


with one of its green bottles, or sitting on a leather couch at The Vaults in Leith, the SMWS is the perfect perch from which to peruse the wide world of whisky. The Society is a place that taught me to go boldly into each glass, find the wacky, weird and wonderful, and come out a better man. It still does. I was invited onto The Tasting Panel


in 2004, hosted tastings at the London Members’ Rooms between 2006 and 2008, and was a member of the ambassador team from 2007, based out of London but working all over the UK.


TELL US ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO FOR THE BALVENIE After a few years of doing Dr Whisky (and little luck securing work in academia), I was approached by three whisky companies. I had no idea there was a full-time job where you could talk about whisky for a living. In 2008, I accepted a job with William


Grant & Sons in New York as The Balvenie ambassador USA. In 2010, I was invited to take the global ambassador role and happily accepted, moving back to the UK. One of my first projects was creating the ‘Whisky Academy’, a collection of more


than 30 films about Scotch whisky, on The Balvenie website (thebalvenie.com).


WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK ABOUT YOUR LIFE AND CAREER AS A WHISKY EXPERT? A good spread actually: generally proud, envious and dismissive.


YOU MUST HAVE AMASSED A FINE COLLECTION OF MALTS. HOW MANY BOTTLES DO YOU HAVE? Having moved around quite a bit, I have had to clear my shelves on a few occasions, so I had to start from scratch again in November 2010. Currently, I have 40 open bottles of whisky on the drinking shelf, about 40 on the “work” shelf (along with countless minis and samples), and about 20 on the nostalgia/collection shelf.


YOU HAVE HOSTED LOTS OF WHISKY TASTINGS – WHAT MAKES A GOOD EVENT OR A BAD ONE? As a host, the most important factor is to have great people. Great whisky is a happy bonus, but good people and bad whisky can still result in a great tasting.


CONTINUED OVERLEAF


THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY


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