“Connecting with people and explaining all these facets and getting them to understand about whisky simply increases my passion.” – Beth Havers
Beth Havers is the National Whisky Portfolio Specialist for William Grant & Sons in Canada.
As the only female brand ambassador specialising in single malts in Canada, Beth speaks in this Whisky Women interview about how she got into the industry, what her three desert island drams would be and why she loves sharing her passion for whisky.
How did you get involved in the whisky industry?
I moved first to Ireland and then to Scotland after university. I lived for two-and-a-half years and that’s where I really started drinking and enjoying whiskies. One of the first I ever had was the Glenfiddich 12 at a pub in Haymarket and after trying several more and tasting differences with regions I became really interested. When I moved back to Canada I started working with Diageo in 2005 on their reserve team in Canada and I also became a sommelier in hopes of continuing my education. I was there until 2011 and that’s when the opportunity with William Grant & Sons came about.
What was one of the first whiskies you fell in love with?
The Glenfiddich 12 was first I tried and I remember after I also tried the Glenfiddich 15 and Grant’s, Johnnie Walker Black, then over to Islay whiskies like Lagavulin. That’s what really sparked a difference in me wanting to know more as I was really interested in the fact they had the same ingredients but tasted different.
What makes you passionate about whisky?
That sheer fact that from distillery to distillery, barrel to barrel, it’s amazing how they can have such different tastes. We’re in a lucky position to be able to talk about our passion, and for me, connecting with people and explaining all these facets and getting them to understand about whisky simply increases my passion. I was recently doing some staff eduction in south western Ontario and this group of girls were all like, ‘I hate scotch’. But then they had the Balvenie Caribbean Cask and it was their ah-ha moment. So there are times that it’s the spirit that makes me passionate but it’s also about being able to connect with people on a daily basis.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
The great thing about Canada is it’s such a large country and I get to travel and visit different cities all the time; one morning I could be in Vancouver and the next in Newfoudnland but still spreading the world about single malts. I’ve always been a people person and luckily I have a job that allows me to utilise it. That’s the thing I like most about it: the constant change. People ask me if I get tired of these types of chats but no two conversations are the same; you’re always stirking up different conversations with different people and it’s constantly changing.
How has the industry changed since you’ve been involved?
The availability of it and people’s desire for more has really increased in that time. There are so many more people wanting to know about whisky and even having full-on whisky bars in Canada is a big thing as there weren’t any really 9 to 10 years ago. Even within my own portfolio there’s more to talk about and people want to spice up their collections with these additional little gems that are becoming more available in Canada.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your work in whisky?
Just getting to the point I am at now actually. When I look back to when I just wanted to get involved in the alcohol industry and working my way through different brands and different products to get where I am now, that’s something I’m super proud of. I’m the only female working on behalf of single malt distilleries in Canada so I’m changing things up a little bit now.
Why would you recommend someone try whisky if they haven’t?
You can compare it to wine – there are different regions, different types, different taste profiles. It’s such an interesting spirit because, depending on your palate and what you’re looking for, you’ll find something that will appeal to you. It’s kind of like why not? Give it a try and if you’re up for experiencing new things it’s something you should definitely take a look at.
Desert Island Drams: what three whiskies would you take with you if you were exiled from Canada?!
Glenfiddich 15 is my absolute favourite and I’m lucky I work for Glenfiddich. Then Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask and the Glenfiddich 19 year old Madeira Age of Discovery. I need to travel again as I’m down to my final dram of that one!
What is one of your favourite memories involving whisky drinking?
It was at the Caledonian pub in Toronto. Dnna is from Huntly and her husband is Canadian. We created a Glenfiddich bothy there outside to do whisky tastings and just before Christmas – with no intention of doing a tasting – a bunch of people just gathered in this outdoor space and we did this off the cuff whisky tasting. It was just so casual and everyone was in the holiday spirit. We had great whisky, great company and great chat and we just sat there the rest of the evening in the cold Canadian weather.