Q & A – Alex Robertson, International Brand Ambassador – Chivas Brothers, Part 13
Q & A – Alex Robertson, International Brand Ambassador – Chivas Brothers
Both Jim and Nicola are very happy that Alex has taken some time from his busy schedule to complete our Q & A. We first met Alex when we were invited on our Chivas Speyside Trip earlier this year. We would also like to invite Alex to a tasting with the Whisky Boys in the very near future, so get in touch Alex, and let us know if you have any spaces in your diary, we can then deal with all the details.
Q. (1) When did you first get involved in the Whisky Industry and why…. maybe it was a calling from the angels, or your family were already involved?
A. I joined the Scotch Whisky Industry in Spring 2008, crossing over from journalism and BBC Scotland. Many years earlier, I founded Glasgow’s Whisky Club. It was the only way to discover The Pot Still’s impressive gantry containing hundreds of whiskies. The club, which has gone from strength to strength, was informal and convivial and as I met fascinating and passionate people from the industry, I thought: “I want to do that”. The opportunity to join Chivas Brothers and work with a remarkable portfolio of Scotch turned that dream to reality.
Q. (2) If you weren’t in this industry where would you like to be and what would you be doing? Remember you are in the real world you still need to be making an income.
A. One thing that struck me on joining Chivas Brothers was the length of time my colleagues had been with the company, some for the best part of four decades! So it is not an industry you leave. If it were not for Scotch though, I would undeniably be back in journalism at BBC Scotland. Writing is my other passion and there is still no better place for impartial, balanced and high-quality reporting than the BBC.
Q. (3) So far what has been your proudest moment in the Whisky Industry?
A. The brand heritage team welcomes hundreds of guests to Speyside each year and we all take great pride in talking passionately about Scotland, our distilleries and Chivas Brothers’ great whiskies from Chivas Regal to The Glenlivet. A special moment remains presenting the new Chivas Regal Luxury of Time tasting, with the Chivas Regal Master Blender Colin Scott, to 160 people from around the world in Monaco, to draw to a close the launch of the new global Live With Chivalry campaign.
Q. (4) Do you have a favourite Distillery, which one and why?
A. That’s a tough one Chivas Brothers has eleven operating distilleries on Speyside and Scapa on Orkney and like the malts they produce each is unique. Aesthetically speaking, Tormore is a stunning distillery, fantastc architecture and, of course, the first you pass on Speyside’s malt whisky trail after turning off the A9. That said, Strathisla – the home of Chivas Regal and the oldest operating distillery in the highlands, holds a special place in my heart, as my base on Speyside. It’s simply beautiful and a great single malt.
Q. (5) Where is your favourite bar / pub for drinking your favourite Dram, and who would you choose to be with you?
A. Glasgow, my home town, has an embarrassment of riches in whisky bars from the Pot Still to the Bon Accord. My favourite by far is The State Bar. A good selection of whiskies, always a malt of the month and … it would need to be my wife with me. An obvious choice I hear you say but she too is a whisky fan and since the children arrived we don’t have the opportunity to share a dram together as often as we used to!
Q. (6) Has there been a Whisky recently that has surprised the hell out of you?
A. Every whisky is unique and context is always important. My favourite dram, Scapa 16, always surprises. It is a stunning dram with beautiful heather, honey notes from a wonderful distillery.
Q. (7) Who in the Whisky Industry do you admire/respect the most?
A. Chivas Brothers has more than 1500 employees, it’s a real team effort and you meet remarkable individuals from the Stillhouse to marketing. I greatly admire and respect the Ballantine’s Master Blender Sandy Hyslop who has been in the industry for more than quarter of a century. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and can convey that experience, in all aspects of Scotch, in a few words in the face of my incessant questions!
Q. (8) If you had to pick 4 celebrities, sportsmen/women, politicians to do a tasting session with, who would be your chosen 4?
A. I would have loved to have met and shared a dram with the anarchic comedian Spike Milligan, a true hero of mine. Add to this another comedy great Ricki Fulton who I was fortunate to interview once. His character, the Reverend IM Jolly with lovely water! I am a great admirer of BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, and I know he likes a dram! And finally, a fantastic and underrated musician hailed as the next Bob Dylan called Steve Forbert who started out with a stunning album in the late 70s and is still writing and performing today.