“Whisky is truly worth sharing with as many people as possible and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love.” – Lucy Whitehall
Lucy Whitehall is the global brand ambassador for The Famous Grouse, a role she has held since 2013.
In this Whisky Women interview, Lucy reflects on her eight years in the industry, her current role and why she would recommend anyone to go into a career in the world of whisky.
How did you first get into whisky?
I started within the whisky industry over eight years ago as a tour guide at The Famous Grouse Experience. After finishing my degree, I found it really hard to pull away from the industry’s friendly and exciting atmosphere. I became determined to pursue a wider role within whisky and when the opportunity came up at the distillery for a global brand ambassador position I jumped at the chance to apply for it. I was very fortunate to secure the role in January 2013 and I’ve never looked back since…only forward with a dram in hand!
What do you love most about your role?
The best part of my role is being able to share a truly amazing product with such diverse audiences across the world. Whisky is truly worth sharing with as many people as possible and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your work?
For me the proudest moments come from experiencing how whisky brings people together. Even though I may be hosting a group of people who have very limited English and might not be able to understand everything that I say, you can still see the enthusiasm and the endearing way in which a group appreciate and warm to a dram. It makes me extremely proud to be able to see first-hand the great effect that whisky has on people.
People can sometimes be a bit snobby about blended whisky: how do you respond to them?
A very popular belief and something which I am often asked is: “Is single malt better than blended whisky?” My response is and will always be that neither is better than the other, they are both different in their delivery; however, each is just as enjoyable as the other. Single malts offer a taste profile and charm unique to one distillery whereas blended whiskies offer an array of flavours from various different distilleries. It all comes down to personal preference. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to enjoy drinking a dram, whether it’s a single malt or blended whisky, and both are made by equally passionate people for all types of consumers. The best type of whisky is your favourite whisky, drunk how you enjoy it!
You’ve recently helped launch the idea of Drammoliers – can you tell me a bit more about this and why you think it’s important?
The idea of Drammoliers™ has come directly from The Famous Grouse Experience team and has been developed to accurately describe a trained and knowledgeable whisky professional. Our Roving Drammoliers™ deliver an experience, not just a whisky tasting, by including elements such as interactive props and materials which offer a distinctive point of difference for consumers to enjoy and engage with.
Their job is to make whisky tasting an accessible, memorable and interesting experience for everyone involved, no matter who the audience or their level of whisky knowledge.
There are so many wonderful and fascinating things to learn about Scotch whisky. It’s not just about enjoying the end product as there are many parts and people to explore along the whole process. I truly believe that the Drammoliers™ are an extremely great asset to the future of whisky tastings.
How do you think perceptions about whisky are changing right now?
I think the biggest change that I see within the whisky industry is the overall global appeal and appreciation of a dram has increased dramatically. Whisky is being bought and adored by younger generations more and more and it’s fantastic!
Not only are wider audiences eager to buy and enjoy a dram but they are also increasingly interested in learning more about the industry.
To my delight I have seen more females interested in whisky in the last couple of years than I have ever seen before – long may this continue!
Do you think more women could or should be involved in the world of whisky?
Two part answer…. yes and yes!
Why would you recommend someone to embark on a career in whisky?
The whisky industry is simply an amazing industry to be in. From the fascinating history to the most warming of characters, no two days working in it are ever the same. I can’t think of any reason not to recommend a career in whisky to someone.
Desert island drams: What three would you take with you and why?
The Naked Grouse – I absolutely love this whisky. It accentuates everything that is great about The Famous Grouse and has the most beautiful sweet and smooth characteristics. It goes amazingly well with a good few pieces of chocolate too!
The Famous Grouse 21 year old blended malt – unfortunately this whisky is incredibly hard to find now that it has been discontinued. It was my favourite Famous Grouse expression for a very long time and still is.
Highland Park 21 year old – this is such a powerfully beautiful dram. Classic heather honey peat mixed with lots of caramel and vanilla fudge!
What is one of your favourite memories involving whisky?
Seeing my Dad’s face light up when he unwrapped his limited edition Famous Grouse whisky for his 60th Birthday, then five minutes later hearing my uncle trying as many ways as possible to persuade my Dad not to keep the precious dram but to open and share it with him…priceless!