The first three months. What we’ve learned. Where we’re going.

There's a whole world out there.

You need a really good map, to know where you're going

We’re only a few months into the journey with The Whisky Ambassador and already, we’re beginning to add lots to the basis of why we actually set up The Whisky Ambassador in the first place.

So far, we’ve had many of Scotland’s leading ‘players’ put people through the programme. People from the likes of the Missoni Hotel in Edinburgh, The Grand Central Glasgow, The Radisson Group, The George Hotel in Edinburgh and Cameron House at Loch Lomond. We’re also putting lots of bartenders through the programme, from the likes of The Pitcher and Piano and The Artisan. We’re actively speaking to some of the most famous names in Scottish hospitality, so our ‘wish list’ of the great and the good of Scottish hospitality we’d like to work with is beginning to come true, much quicker than we expected. We’re also undertaking the programme in other parts of the UK, in spite of this not really being on our radar for the first year, never mind the first three months.

Although we want to train bar professionals to sell Scotch Whisky with enthusiasm, knowledge and passion, with an eye to our our mantra of ‘Drink Less. Drink Better’, we’ve also got other ideas. We want to help bars to sell more Scotch Whisky, that’s for sure and we’re now getting statistics on the upsurge in sales figures from them, to back this up. However, we’re actually about a lot more than just this. We’re getting asked all the time about ‘the other programmes and courses you do’ in spite of the fact, this wasn’t something we planned to look at till 2013, at least. So, we’ll be creating additions to The Whisky Ambassador. For those who want to visit Distilleries, become ‘Whisky Professionals’, build their OWN whisky bars or generally gain previously unavailable, prestigious Accreditation, for decades of work in the Whisky world.

Since we jumped, head-first into ‘Whisky Land’ to become the UK’s only Accredited whisky training, we’re learned a hell of a lot. We’ve learned that the love of Scotch Whisky is boundless. We get emails every day from the furthest corners of Earth, extolling the virtues of a natural product that quite a lot of Scots don’t really give a second thought about. People from EVERYWHERE want to get involved with us. Our National drink is loved, by lots. Whisky, the stuff that a large amount of alcohol-friendly Scots don’t even drink, is more popular in areas of Brasil, than it is in Scotland. The bloggers, ‘malt maniacs’, drammers, tasters, brand ambassadors and aficionados we chat to, just about every day on the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are really Scotch Whisky’s trump card. Most of these people are unpaid and spend their free time (or their life) tasting, festival-ing, writing, tweeting, blogging or simply drinking, in a Scotch Whisky ‘stylee’. It’s made us genuinely humble and proud to be living in Scotland and welcomed into a global, Whisky family.

We’ve learned that some of the most knowledgeable whisky people in the World are not Scots and we’ve learned the fact that there are now lots of women crashing into this formerly, male-dominated party. We’ve learned mainly that we’re always going to be learning! Scotch Whisky’s not just a product, it’s a way of life, the fabric of the Scottish landscape. We’ve learned it’s something that, if we play our cards right, is going to be hugely important to the future of Scotland. It’s blinking exciting!

Above all, we’ve learned that if Scotch Whisky is to remain as an iconic symbol of our great wee country and if it’s going to go on, to even greater heights, it’s not going to be one Superhero, using magical powers who will achieve this. It’s a big ‘gang’ of whisky ‘Ambassadors’ who will power Scotch whisky onwards and continually upwards.

In our first few months, we’ve spend a lot of time meeting people. Because Scotch Whisky is important (like, creating £225 per second for the UK economy, important) we’ve found out The Scottish Government, Business Gateway, The Scotch Whisky Association, Scotland’s Food and Drink, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and Visit Scotland all have lots to say, lots of clout and can bring lots of positivity to Scotch Whisky. That’s before you even consider all the Distillery ‘Groups’, the individual distilleries , The British Institute  of Innkeepers,  The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, all the UK hoteliers, restaurateurs, bar owners, from the Lizard, to Lerwick.  It’s all those people. We want to work with ALL of them. It’s not a competition, it’s a giant whisky alliance and we want to be part of it.

So, if you add all these together (along with the others we’ve not met yet), you get the UK whisky landscape. It’s huge.

This is quite daunting. Only a few months since formation and we’ve got LOTS of people to convince, encourage, support, lend a hand to, train and take on the first steps of their Whisky journey. We’ve got legions of people we’d love to build alliances with, set up mutually beneficial arrangements with and generally, get along with.

To further compound this, we really, seriously have plans to have The Whisky Ambassador in lots of places. At the moment, Scottish Development International are kindly supporting us in developing a strategy for growth into new territories. We’ve already attended a number of workshops which are helping us form a plan which will hopefully be the building blocks for organic growth, to spread the whisky love, everywhere. We’re speaking to people in USA, Lithuania, Holland, Singapore and China, we just need to focus a bit.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a start alright and although we’re not really that shy, lots pf people have opened doors for us.  We’d really like to thank all the people who have offered us advice and pointed us in the right direction, when we’ve been heading into a dead end. Those who have generally extended the hand of whisky friendship with kind words and encouragement, when we were beginning to get frustrated or over-enthusiastic! We’re not really out of the traps yet but because of the support, we know that the weekends, late nights, heated ‘debates’ and rather erm..interesting Director’s meetings we’ve already had, well, they’ve all all been worthwhile.

Thanks, whisky lovers! Here’s to The Whisky Ambassador! Here’s to Scotch Whisky! Slainte!



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