“Chatting whisky with whisky lovers old and new gives me endless pleasure. It’s what continues to make the industry special.” – Joy Elliott, Brand Ambassador, The Macallan
Joy Elliott is the brand ambassador for The Macallan. She has worked in the whisky industry for 10 years, first at Glenturret.
In this Whisky Women interview, she discusses what inspires her about whisky, why she loves being a brand ambassador and her thoughts on a changing whisky world.
How did you get interested in whisky?
I got a job as a tour guide at Glenturret Distillery in Crieff in March of 2003. I worked at the distillery while studying for my degree. Soon after starting I wanted to know more about the history of distillation and the industry as a whole and from there I was hooked. The longer I worked at the distillery the greater my passion became and it wasn’t long before I didn’t want to do anything else but work in whisky.
What whisky first made you realise this was a special spirit?
The whisky that started it all off for me was the now discontinued Glenturret 12 year old. It was still around when I started at Glenturret and was a lovely dram.
What inspires you most about what you do?
I travel a lot with my job and it never fails to amaze me the passion that different countries have for whisky. Having the ability to step into different cultures and lifestyles and have a shared passion for a special product like whisky inspires me.
How do you think the whisky consumer market has changed in recent years?
I think the consumer market has really opened up. I find myself at whisky fairs and consumer events with more of a varied clientele. It’s not just one age group or gender that is solely interested in whisky. One of the best parts of my job is learning from the people who have been drinking whisky for decades and sharing a dram with those that have just stepped into the whisky world. It’s getting to be wonderfully diverse.
Whisky companies are coming out with more and more releases – do you think we’ll have to see a slow down soon or will companies have to continue innovating to stand out?
I feel that innovation is key to the growth and development of any consumable product and whisky is no different. As the industry continues to grow over the coming years we will continue to attract new whisky drinkers and enthusiasts. Ultimately there are many ways to make great whisky and experimentation in the industry is inevitable. I am a strong believer that it is important to appreciate whisky for its quality, character and flavour first and foremost and I am really excited to see what the future holds.
What do you see as the most exciting part of the increase in interest in whisky?
More people to chat to about whisky! The increase in interest means to me that I get to chat to more people about the thing that I love. Chatting whisky with whisky lovers old and new gives me endless pleasure. It’s what continues to make the industry special. It gives me a buzz to see more and more people involved in the industry, new faces, new consumer and new distilleries.
Do you feel more women should or could be involved in the whisky industry?
I think it’s important for people to do what they love and love what they do. Whisky is my passion and so I feel I have the best job in the world. We have several female brand ambassadors and our office is pretty well balanced from a male to female ratio point of view. From the production and distillation side, the industry is lucky to have some great talents including our very own Kirsteen Campbell who is Edrington’s master blender for Cutty Sark. Could there be more women involved in the world of whisky? Always! We are reported to have the best noses after all…
Do you see more women getting interested in whisky or coming along to tastings you host?
There have always been women at events and tastings that I have hosted or been part of although I would say that numbers have increased over the last decade. Although men still often outnumber women at the majority of tastings there is no longer such a big split. I often see women attend with their husbands or partners and then start to take an active interest themselves which is great to see.
Why would you recommend someone to get involved in the world of whisky?
The industry is so vibrant and diverse. There is such a rich history and innumerable tales and anecdotes to learn and share. But more than anything whisky is a wonderful drink, it is for dramming and sharing and there is something out there for every taste and palate. The possibilities are endless.
What is your most cherished memory of whisky drinking?
I have so many great memories but the one that springs to mind was relatively recent. It was in Easter Elchies House, at The Macallan Estate where I tasted The Macallan 1824 Series for the first time with Bob Dalgarno, our whisky maker. Tasting Sienna and chatting it through with Bob and the team was really special – not least because the whisky was absolutely beautiful. It is currently my favourite dram.