Updated: Oct 9, 2020
I open my laptop to look at the United Airlines website to remind myself of how my airmiles are looking. Seven months ago I wouldn't have done this as the app would keep me posted every time I retrieved a boarding pass for my next overseas whisky adventure. Over the past 15 years I have travelled to 30 countries and seen 42 states in the USA, all in the name of Scotch whisky. Pushing well into my 40’s, the travel and late nights were starting to take their toll and the realisation that the ambassador life had an expiration date became apparent. Taking care of myself had become a priority and I was no longer the last person standing every night. Rewind 5 years and I was the one leading the charge to find the best whisky bars with a late night licence.
I am now no longer within the corporate whisky ambassador world. Being furloughed during the COVID crisis made me really think about if getting on a plane every week was a direction I wanted to carry on in. I will never regret a single minute of being a whisky ambassador for some of the largest whisky companies in the world. I have met some incredible people and experienced money-can't-buy whisky adventures. I often get asked about some of these experiences, which is always tough to narrow down so here's my top 5:
i) Flying into the grand canyon by helicopter to taste Glenfiddich 50 year old.
ii) Sailing the west coast of Scotland visiting coastal distilleries for 2 weeks.
iii) Snowboarding into an Aspen bar to host a staff training session.
iv) Drinking whisky with Benedict Cumberbatch in LA, while having no clue who he was (my daughter still hasn't forgiven me for this!)
v) Hosting a tasting for group on a private jet on the way to Las Vegas.
So I have gone solo, starting up my own company for the first time. Unsurprisingly, CopperCairn is based around Scotch whisky. Copper relating to whisky and Cairn being the gaelic world for a stone pile made to celebrate the summit of a mountain, a welcome sight for any climber. The ethos of CopperCairn is simple, to share the exciting and interesting aspects of the modern Scotch whisky world with people. A world that is far removed from the old imagery of a man (it was always a man) sipping whisky by the fire in a smoking jacket, dog at feet. I want to show people the whisky world that embraces modern culture and is not scared to change things up and make itself relevant. From throwing mixers in single malt whisky to pairing it with Indian food or intertwining it with interesting activities. I believe I have been a small part in the modern change whisky has seen over the past decade and I want to continue that and share that with people.
As I look to my new independent whisky future I'd be lying if I said there was no apprehension and excitement. It will be a new world for me without a company credit card, mid year reviews, monthly reports and a big name brand allowing me to fly around the world and staying in 5 star hotels, well mostly 4!
I realise that I find myself in a similar situation to the whisky industry where we are both having to adjust to this temporary 'new norm.' How do I feel about that? Positive, as I know it will be another incredible chapter to add to my whisky journey. As for whisky; I believe it will continue to flourish and bring people together in ways it has done for centuries.
Slàinte mhath and hopefully I will see you in a bar somewhere soon for a dram.