What’s on Your Business Card?
It changes from time to time. If it was according to my own understanding, it should just say an alcoholic. Not because I drink too much, but I think it would create enough curiosity in a person who sees it because they would see you behaving in a certain way and think, but that’s not how alcoholics behave. Anyway, it says I’m a brand specialist.
How Would You Describe Your Job to A Date?
When describing my job to anybody actually, I normally say I’m fortunate to work with the only golden liquid that anybody can access. You know of all precious metals, particularly in Africa, gold is one of the most respected ones. I’m the only one who gets to work with a golden liquid that literally from its inception to consumption would remain the same.
So, What Exactly Does Your Job Entail?
Drinking (laughs). The first thing we need to embrace about the role is a good sense of appreciation. Whisky is known as the ‘water of life’ so I work in an environment that is full of life. It entails being an intuitive person about the product that I represent, engaging with people that don’t actually demystify the whisky beyond the bottle. As the face of the brand, I’m fortunate to represent almost 300 people that are at the distillery every day. But I don’t take that literally – I am learning every day from each person that I meet. So, it’s such a give-and-take work environment. Eventually I would just say I’m one of the few guys in the world who is paid to be friendly.
How Did Get the Job?
Let’s just say I was a non-drinker when I began. My background is quite interesting. I think I follow a similar thread to William Grant [the founder of Glenfiddich] in the sense that my career was very humble when it began. I was a security guard at a retail store when I was trying to raise funds for tertiary education. I broke through the ranks and at some point, became a spokesperson to the mayor of the capital city. I landed into this by being the worst critic of alcohol because of lack of understanding. When I started I was given the responsibility in the smallest region in South Africa which only looked after Soweto and just grew within the ranks.
When You Were A Kid, What Did You Want to Be?
I grew up in a small province in South Africa called KwaZulu-Natal and we didn’t have a lot of doctors. I wanted to be a doctor up until I met one and had a bad experience with an injection. I said to myself, I don’t think I would love to be a person who cures people with pain.
Do You Remember Your First Dram?
Yes, I do. And it was definitely not Glenfiddich. It was probably in 2009. I had a black-out in a club within two hours of drinking and I vowed that day that I would never drink whisky again. I recently met the guy who was with me and he reminded me what I’d said.
Do You Have A Favourite Time and Place To Enjoy Whisky?
My house. Whisky is enjoyed better with good company. I grew up as a loner so the greatest company that I have are my four walls because I get to reflect, I get to think, I get to strategize.
Do You Have A Favourite Whisky and Food Pairing?
I enjoy whisky with chocolate. If you study whisky enough and get the texture right and work with a great chef or chocolatier you always get the right combination. But a Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old with seafood would be appreciated by anybody in the world because that’s the easiest combination you can find.