|By Whisky Live Staff||01-11-2017|
We had a chat with John Quinn, the Global Brand Ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W, to find out more about his journey in the whisky industry.
Q1. How did you get into the wonderful world of whisky?
A. I joined Irish Distillers group straight from school – I was asked by the manager of my football team if I would go for an interview at a whiskey company. I thought “why not?” I didn’t expect to be offered a job. They must have been pretty desperate because the HR Manager offered me the position immediately. The role was the office boy at the bottling production plant, so I literally started at the bottom. But it gave me great insight into all the brands and different sizes, labels, etc. I was doing this for a couple of years when I realised I wanted to get into the sales and marketing area so I went to University at night to study Marketing. It was 4 years of long hard slog but it certainly paid off and I wasn’t the office boy for too long.
Q2. What does your job as an International Brand Ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W entail?
A. Essentially, I travel to different countries to educate people about whisky, particularly Irish Whiskey and specifically then, Tullamore D.E.W. So I sometimes describe it as a job where I educate and advocate. My audience can be anyone from Joe Bloggs on the street to the CEO of a major corporation. Usually though, I’m dealing with Industry people such as sales teams, bar managers, bartenders, mixologists, whisky writers and enthusiasts and journalists.
Q3. Who do you really look up to in the whisky industry and why?
I really look up to people who are passionate about what they do, regardless of what company they work for. I greatly admire Brian Kinsman and David Stewart, Master Blenders at William Grant and Sons, Barry Crockett (retired) and Billy Leighton at Midleton distilleries in Ireland, and of course Denise Devenny who is the manager at our distillery in Tullamore. I also admire Kevin Pigott – he’s our distillery ambassador in Tullamore. He’s not yet 30 but he has a huge passion for the brand and the industry and is an example to any aspiring Irish Whiskey Ambassador. He’s also cool – something I will never be!
Barry Crockett, Midleton Master Distiller (now retired)
Q4. What should one look out for when tasting Tullamore D.E.W?
I always tell people that they should look out for a smooth but complex whisky. This is a whisky that is accessible but because of the triple cask matured and triple blend nature of the whisky (not to mention the triple distilled aspect of course), this whisky will also be complex – so look out for something pleasantly sweet with some fruit, wood and spice influences, and then a nice nuttiness at the finish. Overall look out for lots of flavours from a very approachable whisky.
Q5. What can visitors to the show expect at the stand? (Any interesting expressions on offer? Will you be bringing any once-offs/ special bottling/ works in progress for tasting?)
Look out for some Aged Single Malts like our 14 Year Old, some Classic Aged Blends like our 12 Year Old - winner of many many awards. Also look out for cask finishes which we’ll have at the stand - quite an array of very interesting whiskeys.
Q6. Are you running a Master Class? If so, what can guests expect?
I will have a Master Class and at it I will be educating attendees about what makes Irish Whiskeys different from other types. I’ll be bringing some whiskeys straight from the cask at the distillery so they’ll be at cask strength and we’ll have a blend-your-own session so people can learn what it takes to be a Master Blender.
We will cover a lot of variants from Tullamore D.E.W. Original right up to Tullamore D.E.W 18 Year Old.
Q7. What’s your advice to first-time Festival-goers/ those who are new to whisky and not sure where to start?
It’s easy to say start with an Irish Whiskey – but generally if they come to my class I will be explaining the art of making whiskey – letting them taste whiskeys before they are blended and then of course they can visit other stands to measure the whiskies on offer there against a background of the basics they will have learned at the class. If they don’t have time for the class they should come and see me at the stand and I can do a quick introduction to whiskey (and whisky) for them. I’m a long time in this business (since 1974, yeuch!) so I should know enough for them to learn and learn well.