Education, Education, Education!

Firstly, delighted to be doing a monthly blog for Whisky Ambassador. Sue and Jo are great ladies to work with. I’ll be covering anything from tasting notes to news and Scotch Whisky industry people and companies.

The title here is to emphasise how vital it is that our on and off-trade people in Scotland can talk knowledgeably about Scotch Whisky – and, to an extent, other whiskies so they know what the differences are when talking to their customers. Just look at the opportunity we have with the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow (I’m volunteering and won’t miss a chance to talk Scotch). Nothing worse than visitors asking about Scotch in a bar or restaurant and the staff not knowing the answer – or telling them something completely wrong. Reminds me of places I’ve been where I’ve asked what the house wines are and been told “Red and white, madam”. Training, what training?

Having produced notes for a few courses and taught same, it seems a no-brainer that with the major events Scotland attracts, we should do more in terms of whisky education. Coming to Glasgow are the MTV Awards and any number of high profile conferences and competitions with thousands in attendance. Think of the international visitors to the Ryder Cup in September and the annual Edinburgh Festival.

Of course, we have some fantastic places which stock a large range and do a great job training their people. Some are previous entrants in the SLTN Whisky Bar of the Year Awards – I’m thinking The Bon Accord, The Whiski Rooms, The Albanach and more. Others may be as good but don’t put themselves forward. On the retail side we have Inverarity One to One and The Good Spirits Company, not to mention The Whisky Shop and other fine specialists.

It’s not necessary to have the largest range or a host of awards, just to have good people to talk to the world about our national drink.  Just remember that learning is a constant process – and fun. I’ve worked with whisky for many years now and keep learning all the time. I’d be doing something wrong if I weren’t.

Training courses are now being held overseas too, due to whisky’s international status. Therefore more and better employment opportunities or more kudos for your premises. What’s stopping you? Get learning! I recommend “Distilling Knowledge” by top drinks writer, Dave Broom as great background reading.

Enjoy the first part of the summer and see you next month. I promise the next blog won’t be as long.



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