“[Working in whisky] won’t make you rich but you will have a great time, get to see some amazing places, meet some real characters and drink some fantastic whisky.” – Amanda Ludlow
Amanda Ludlow is the co-founder of whisky event and tasting company The Whisky Lounge with husband Eddie Ludlow (also known as the Whisky Evangelist). Despite being involved in the world of whisky for a while, her conversion to whisky has been a recent one. Here she speaks of the dram that changed it all for her, her thoughts on the industry and her proudest whisky achievements.
What got you into the world of whisky?
My dad first and then my husband Eddie – and I hope he would feel proud that he has managed to convert me
Was it a surprise to you when you realised you really enjoyed a dram?
It was a complete revelation and you were there when it happened!
I had been quite well know amongst The Whisky Lounge festival exhibitors for being a whisky hater. When I came to work in the business full time in January 2012 I decided I had to at least be open to the idea of drinking whisky so I embarked on a personal challenge to drink a different dram every day for 40 days and tweet about it, in the hopes I would find something I could tolerate or, even better, enjoy.
What I did discover was the amount of different styles and tastes there were out there. I also discovered I don’t have the palate to enjoy peaty whiskies and that my Irish tribalism extends to even my taste buds.
The moment I realised that I too could love Whisky was on 29th Feb 2012 at a 3D tasting I was doing with Eddie and Joe of The Whisky Lounge to launch our London Festival to media and trade. The dram was Jameson’s Select Reserve
What do you like most about the whisky industry?
The warmth and openness of the people in it.
What achievement are you most proud of in the whisky side of work?
The festivals and actually attracting new people to drinking whisky while maintaining our enthusiast’s passion for the subject.
Do you feel more women should or could be involved in the industry?
In the first instance my answer is the more the merrier, but I also think this is a nonsense as I have found in my eight years of supporting Eddie and then working with him, that everyone is welcoming and encouraging regardless of gender.
For me people – women especially – should stop focusing on why we don’t have more women in the industry and how to attract them to the industry and, instead, start focusing on how we sell the romance, history and diversity of the liquid.
What do you want to achieve with The Whisky Lounge?
That’s simple: turn everyone on to whisky and make it accessible to all those over the age of 18 regardless of size of wallet.
The 10th anniversary of your shows is coming up in York this autumn. How has that journey been?
It would actually be better to ask Eddie as I only come into the picture eight years ago but it has been hard work, stressful, fantastic fun and a privilege to meet so many great people.
We have gone from one event with six stand holders and 50 customers, to having a nationwide business with nine festivals and over 100 tastings across the UK. We have had 3,500 visitors so far this year to our Brighton, London, Newcastle, Stratford and Leeds festivals.
What do you envision for the future of the business?
We want to be the standard bearer for good practise and customer service excellence.
We also want to achieve our aims, increase the spread and type of events we do and role out our whisky schools across the UK and move into Ireland. We are also looking to potentially form a whisky co-operative to do festivals in the south of France.
Why would you encourage someone to look into a career in the world of whisky?
Because it is fun and fulfilling – it won’t make you rich but you will have a great time, get to see some amazing places, meet some real characters and drink some fantastic whisky.
What is your favourite memory of whisky drinking?
It has to be the first time I ‘got‘ it. I thought, ‘Actually that is really nice; I want another and I want it now’.