Ronnie; How did you learn the trade? [[RR]] Years of practise I guess, trying anything and everything (whisky that is J). I had great early exposure to G&Mís huge portfolio of maturing malts from pretty much every distillery in Scotland. You donít get a better grounding and education than that. Iíve done all the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) courses over the years and had in-depth training from the Scotch Malt Whisky Research Institute and even Diageoís Malt Advocate course I found educational, but nothing compares to doing your own research, reading mountains of books, tasting various expressions from every distillery and keeping going back over and over again. Thereís so much out there that you can never be up to date with it all. Again being a whisky judge with Scottish Field gave me the opportunity to try things I would never afford on my own, and these were all tasted blind. I liked to save a little of each then re-visit them once we knew what they were, that way you werenít forming an opinion before you nose it. I actually thought I knew a lot about whisky until I started working side by side with some of the industryís real stars, people like Stuart Nickerson, our MD and Graham Eunson our production manager, Allan Willets our stillman. These guys have been making the crater for decades, so I find myself humbled in their company, thereís not been a day gone by at Glenglassaugh where I havenít learned.
What are your day to day tasks? [[RR]] Iím customer account manager for Glenglassaugh and look after the UK sales, direct from Glenglassaugh distillery and through wholesalers. Iím on the phone a lot trying to generate new business with wholesalers, retailers, hotels, clubs and cocktail bars. Our Spirit Drink range have been extremely well received by cocktail bars and mixologists as perfect base spirits for creating cocktails and Iím currently trying to develop this angle. We recently created a new website www.thespiritdrink.com where you can post your favourite recipe using one of our Spirit Drinks and possibly win a bottle for your efforts. Iím quite often out on the road visiting various cities in the UK, meeting potential customers, generating on-trade outlets to pass to our wholesalers, and attending the many consumer whisky shows. We also have quite a lot of visitors to Glenglassaugh so Iím quite often out on site here showing people around the stillhouse or warehouses or the view towards Sandend beach. No matter how many times I see it, it blows me away, youíve seen it Paul, Iím sure you would agree itís arguably the best view from any mainland Scotland distillery. Iím also heavily involved in marketing the distillery jointly with Stuart our MD, being a small close-knit team we do it all, with great passion too.
Are you working on any special new malts or blends now which we may see in the near future? [[RR]] We are always looking at new concepts and ideas and we already have the ball rolling on the very first release of Glenglassaugh single malt whisky since re-opening the distillery in 2008. We aim to release our first no-age expression early in 2012, a day we are all longing for. We launched our very successful ďManagerís LegacyĒ single cask series of just 4 expressions over last year and early 2011, which were older vintages pre-1986 when Glenglassaugh was last in production, and we look to build on this success with further limited edition expressions of single casks. We were spoilt with the remaining casks of old Glenglassaugh, although there arenít many left, the quality is staggering. That coupled with the quality of the new make spirit that Graham Eunsonís producing are the real reasons for me coming to work here, Iíve never tried new make spirit quite like it, and I have tried a lot.
What whiskies have you been involved with over the years that you would consider extra special? [[RR]] I will always consider Benromach close to my heart from my many years with G&M when they brought it back to life. I was very closely involved in the product development and marketing side of that and like to see what they release. It was pleasing to see their 10 year old hit the market, even although I had left them I was still pushing it and recommending it. I joined Duncan Taylor in 2007 with the prospect that they were building the new Huntly distillery but the project dragged on and kept hitting hurdles, so when I left there in 2010 a spade had still never cut the turf. That was a shame as it would have been a great place to open a new distillery and I hope that it goes ahead.
Relaxing at home what whisky would you pour yourself? [[RR]] Thatís a toughie Paul, where do I start? Iím a mood person so usually have a decent selection open, currently about 3 expressions of Benriach, (their 15yo PX is great), a 1972 and a 15yo Linkwood (both G&M), Mike from Whisky Shop Dufftownís 12yo Mortlach, An Cnoc 12yo (which I love), an old Balblair, Elijah Craig 18yo, Glencadam, Van Winkle 15yo, Glendronach 15yo (old Allied bottling), Tomintoul port finish and probably a few others. I have reasonable size collection too and regularly pick out something special should the occasion or the company fit.
What is your least favourite part of the job? [[RR]] Currently thereís not one which is a great way to be. Itís a fantastic feeling to wake up in the morning and you canít wait to get to work. Iím around a 45 minute drive from my home in Elgin each morning, thatís my thinking time when I try to think up new routes to market or product idea. Iím even happy to make the coffee here Paul.
Who else in this industry do you have great respect for? [[RR]] There are lots of unsung heroes in the industry. Iím not a ďshowmanĒ but youíve got to respect those who are as they have treaded the boards and brought Scotch Whisky to a grateful audience for years, opening doors for all other whisky companies. But also the guys who make the stuff on a daily basis creating spirit with care and pride that will be laid down to mature for future generations of whisky drinkers to come. Lastly the numerous whisky bloggers out there who dedicate their whole lives to promoting all things whisky to an audience of millions. In this age of technology the internet is a very powerful tool and posts on websites can make or break a whisky regardless of its origins. These guys are educated and fair with their comments and notes, but never forget, ďOne manís meat is another mans poisonĒ.
What is your favourite part of the job? [[RR]] Pay day of course Paul. No, just kidding. I enjoy every part, I love the expressions on peopleís faces when you let them taste new make Glenglassaugh spirit for the first time, you normally get a wow! I also love meeting whisky enthusiasts at consumer shows, guys who follow your every move and are eager for knowledge. Also that feeling you get when you punch the air after learning that you just got Glenglassaugh onto someoneís shop shelves or bar gantry, thatís a rewarding moment for me, well thatís my job after all. Slainthe, Ronnie.