Interview: David Blackmore

David Blackmore is a Master Brand Ambassador for whisky company, Glenmorangie. His job sees him travelling the globe, educating people in the nuances of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch Whisky, through tastings and events.

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David Blackmore stopped in New Zealand recently and we got a chance to sit down and talk single malt with a man who we think must have one of the best jobs in the world.

Tell us about your job, how would you describe your role?

A: My role is to be a roving passionate advocate for the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Single Malt Whisky brands. That includes educating our trade customers (liquor stores, bars, restaurants and hotels) on the history and heritage of the brands whilst also teaching how to fully appreciate the great complexity of flavours and aromas in each of our whiskies. Of course it’s important to communicate our message about responsible drinking. A new part of my role which I am very excited about is being a member of the prestigious “Whisky Creation Team” back in Scotland. As such, I’m working closely with Dr. Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation on a handful of exciting new whisky projects. It’s an exciting learning process for me right now!

What does a usual day entail?

A: Honestly I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day for me, and that’s one of the things I like most about the job. On a more typical day, you can bet that there will be a plane flight involved somewhere. I am a very “frequent flyer” as you can imagine, once even being recognised by the cabin crew on a flight between the USA and Scotland! Once on the ground, my day often kicks off with an in-depth staff training to our local sales team, followed by back to back media interviews running into a lunch with some key trade customers. Afternoon is often more media interviews and in the evening there will almost always be a Scotch whisky dinner for our passionate fans. Long long days, but when you are doing something you love it makes it so much easier.

You educate people about Whisky, how did you come to know so much about it?

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5133/5535911653_42629507ac.jpgA: Ah-ha! Well it was really luck and chance that got me into the whisky world. I am born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland but until I was 23 years old I really wasn’t a whisky fan. Wine was my thing back then. I have to give a huge thanks to my boss at the time, Charles McCullagh. One day he introduced me to good single malt whisky and from that point onwards I had to discover more for myself. I joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that year. It’s a private members club based in Edinburgh, run by and for serious whisky fans. I liked it so much I got myself a job there within 6 months! I couldn’t have asked for a better education in all things “Single Malt” than my time working for the SMWS (www.smws.com).

In 2009 you were awarded, “Brand Ambassador of the Year” by the influential Whisky Life Magazine. What do you think sets you apart from your contemporaries?

A: I think there are a lot of GREAT whisky ambassadors out there and I was very proud to have won the award. I hope that I always give a passionate, “real” presentation that isn’t in anyway stage managed. I try to convey not just my scotch knowledge but also my passion for the subject, and I hope it shows. I’m still fairly young, but in the world of whisky ambassador I’m getting a bit long in the tooth already! Most ambassadors survive an average of 3 years in the role before moving due to the pressures of constant travel. I’m now in my 6th year in the role and still loving it!

Have you had any mentors along that way that have helped shape your career?

A: Absolutely, the first of which was a gentleman called Brian Chapman who recognised that I had a talent that would make me great in a “people facing” role. It was he that persuaded me to quit my dead end job in a bank that was making life so grey and miserable! Many people have mentored me in the Scotch whisky industry, not the least our own Dr Bill Lumsden and my US boss, Brian Cox, but it was a wonderful man, Doug Macfarlen that really taught me so much about whisky when I first started working at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Doug sadly passed away suddenly last year, but I often privately raise a glass to his memory.

What sets Glenmorangie apart from other whiskies?

A: It’s the fact that unlike other single malt distilleries we go that extra mile with everything we do, and it shows when you taste our whiskies. We only use our oak casks twice (the industry norm is at least 3 or 4 times). It’s much more costly, but we do it because we believe it creates better flavour in our whiskies. Likewise our copper stills are the tallest in all of Scotland and are therefore expensive to operate. Again, we use them because they create a smoother, more perfumed spirit than any other still type. This is why our whiskies have a complexity and “brightness” that’s hard to describe until you taste them. They are just so inviting, easy drinking and full of wonderful complexity.

Can you remember the first time you drank a single malt whisky, and did you enjoy it?

A: Yes I can. I was 18yrs old and I did not like it at all! Single Malts are often an acquired taste. Just like most acquired tastes, Single malts are a taste well worth putting the effort into acquiring!

What’s your favourite way, or place to enjoy single malt?

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A: A glass of single malt, sipped neat, sat on top of a Scottish mountain after a hard day hiking. Simply the best!

Whisky is usually enjoyed by itself, or perhaps with a good cigar, but you like to educate people about matching Single Malts with food. Tell us some ways to match the Glenmorangie range with food.

A: Glenmorangie’s Extra Matured Range lends itself very well to pairing with all sorts of food. I particularly like pairing the Quinta Ruban Port Cask Extra Matured Glenmorangie with dark chocolate. Likewise Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Sauternes Cask Extra Matured expression pairs perfectly with Foie Gras and the Sherry Cask Extra Matured “Lasanta” with Peking Duck or most pork dishes. When it comes to Ardbeg nothing beats Ardbeg and freshly shucked Oysters!

You obviously travel a lot – tell us the three things you can’t travel without.

A: I’d have to say my laptop, blackberry and ipod. The first two let me get my job done and the ipod helps me relax at the end of a long day, during a flight or if I can’t sleep due to jetlag!

This was your first trip to New Zealand, have you enjoyed it?

A: Amazing! Loved it! I had time to visit a couple of Vineyards and walk around Auckland. I will be back – and maybe next time on holiday!

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If you’re sitting down at the end of a long day, what’s your drink of choice?

A: Glenmorangie Original, neat. A whisky that is delicious, complex yet perfectly focused. It’s my whisky “zen” moment!

 
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  • Hippynz says
    cool job, Whisky rules (even the Scotish stuff)
  • Kizami says
    Imagine being a brand ambassador for a drink... connoisseuring everyone in your path. But there are different type of brand ambassadors out there - this guy seems pretty genuine but the other day I heard this thing by a brand ambassador of a certain high end juice (from what I could make of it) and it honestly sounded like a cult/scam. Not only is passion quintessential, you have to be able to spread it around without freaking out the listener!
  • Alex says
    My drink of choice would have to be a smooth single malt on ice that's at least 15 years old, but unfortunately I can only just afford green label.. and not very often at that :(
  • The openness and passion of this man shows that alcohol can be something held in high regard if it is done well and doesn't deserve all of the bad press it gets when meat heads abuse it. A fine kiwi Pinot, a Scottish single malt, a Slovakian beer or a really nice anejo especial tequila are things to savor and enjoy and David Blackmore could just as easily be brand manager not just for Glenmorangie, but for all quality alcohol.
  • T says
    Reading his responses to the questions, he seems like a very genuine guy and passionate about his job. Not surprised he got the Brand Ambassador of the Year accolade.
  • Battler says
    Unfortunate that whiskey tastes like an ashtray an invokes the gag reflex. I really do try to enjoy it but guess it isn't for everyone.
  • mike says
    A most interesting job that suits one that enjoys seeing the world and meeting many interesting people.
  • barnes10 says
    David Blackmore if you are reading this and you need a protege or a Apprentice or Coffee maker or slave boy or glass filler upper person, I'm your man. Got no experience being a Brand Ambassdor but lots and lots and lots of drinking experience!

    YOU"RE HIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Prettyboy says
    I bet David has alot of "better work stories"!

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