How has your extensive experience in journalism contributed to your journey at Chivas since 2008? What has your journey with them been like?
In short … storytelling! The four distilleries in Secret Speyside have unique heritage, craft and flavor. It’s an honour (and a pleasure!) to tell their stories around the world and my previous career in broadcasting certainly helps in painting a picture for whisky aficionados.
I am a passionate advocate of Scotch whisky and my journey over the past decade has been Incredible (India!), visiting more than 60 countries on every corner of the globe as an International Brand Ambassador before moving to our International Graduate Programme and today Head of Heritage and Education.
I am fortunate to have visited India many times and have travelled extensively around the country with both The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal, presenting to an audience with a thirst for knowledge. It is a wonderful country with a colourful culture as beautiful as the single malts in Secret Speyside.
Please elaborate on your role with the Chivas Brother’s International Graduate Programme and what it entails…
I head the International Graduate Programme which today has more than 60 graduate ambassadors in about 30 countries around the world, including India. My role is essentially to grow the programme globally. These Ambassadors are the new face and voices of Scotch whisky and the future of our business. Following graduation and intensive training on Speyside, the home of our Scotch whiskies, dynamic, energetic often multi-lingual ambassadors spend two years on the ground advocating our Scotch whiskies with customers and trade, consumers and media. Following their two-year placement, we hope they will progress to a full- time role in Chivas Brothers or the wider Pernod Ricard network.
Please elaborate on managing the Chivas Brothers’ Archive…
This is truly my passion project! More than 200 years of history on our Scotch whiskies are contained in the Archives at Strathisla Distillery in Keith. The team’s role is first and foremost to protect irreplaceable Archive records and inspire in storytelling.
For example, we have a hand written letter by Charles Dickens in our Archives praising The Glenlivet (singularly my favourite item.) And on Secret Speyside, we have a record from 1897, three years after Longmorn was established, showing casks purchased by … Chivas Brothers! There is also an element of detective work (and journalism) today we are still uncovering stories and piecing together the often remarkable history of our brands.
Could you expand on the 15 rare single malts which are featured in the Secret Speyside collection?
Our Master Distillers have unearthed a collection of 15 rare and remarkable single malts from four of Speyside’s most elusive distilleries. Each has its own rich and unique history for Single Malt fans to discover, including the vanished distillery of Caperdonich, the progressive Longmorn distillery, the landmark Glen Keith distillery, and the remote Braes of Glenlivet distillery. The desirable fifteen-bottle collection consists of three rare Single Malts from each of Glen Keith, Longmorn and Braes of Glenlivet, together with three peated and three unpeated expressions from Caperdonich, which distilled its final Single Malt in 2002, before closing its doors and finally being taken down brick by brick in 2011.
Which are the elusive distilleries that the collection hails from and what are their unique histories specific to this region?
This collection contains the only available Single Malts from Caperdonich, which was taken down brick by brick in 2011. The whiskies released from this ‘vanished distillery’ of Speyside offer a rare opportunity to discover and compare peated and unpeated expressions of the same age (21 and 25 year old), from the same distillery.
Blending unique insights in technology and craft, Longmorn was designed by founder John Duff in 1894 to create a whisky of outstanding quality. Duff even built a railway station next to the distillery to facilitate supplies getting to the distillery and speed up the finished product getting into the hands of whisky lovers. One of Scotland’s best kept secrets, Longmorn has long been considered world class by distillers, blenders and connoisseurs, often referred to as ‘every distiller’s favourite apart from their own.’
Glen Keith was the first Speyside distillery built in the 20th century. The distillery rose from the ruins of an old mill on the banks of the River Isla, famed for its pure water and leaping wild salmon. This collection marks the first official* age-statement release this century from the landmark distillery.
This is the first official bottling from Braes of Glenlivet, one of the highest distilleries in Speyside. In years past, when the snow fell, it settled on the hills of Braes of Glenlivet first. The remote distillery was watched over by a lone keeper at night and was truly at the mercy of the uncompromising Scottish elements.
What is the relevance of Secret Speyside in India?
As a country where desire and demand for Scotch whiskies has grown exponentially, India is a key country in which we want to offer the 15, incredibly rare single malts that make up the Secret Speyside collection.
What are your expectations from the Indian market and challenges as compared to other markets overseas?
The Indian market has shown consistent growth in the Single Malts segment and is one of our key strategic markets. This growth shows a demand for Scotch whiskies and thus an opportunity for us as a brand to showcase premium Single Malts, including aged and rare innovative expressions, such as those found within the Secret Speyside range.
Please expand on why the Secret Speyside collection would be the perfect luxury gift for whisky connoisseurs…
The Secret Speyside collection is the perfect luxury gift for any whisky enthusiast or connoisseur. For collectors, the collection represents an incredible opportunity to add these rare and precious liquids to their shelves. Discerning whisky drinkers will enjoy being taken on a voyage of discovery through the celebrated Speyside region of Scotland, not just in the fifteen rich and characterful whiskies that comprise the collection, but through the compelling and intriguing stories associated with each distillery that will remain long after the last drop is drunk.