My first day at the job and I had flown over 6000 miles to one of my favourite destinations: Scotland. No wonder they call it 'The Awesome Job'
It was a typical Scottish morning; a little drizzly and a little chilly, as we all drove to Girvan Distillery; home to Grant's Whisky. The nearly two hours' drive from Glasgow to Girvan made me nostalgic and reminded me of my days in the UK as a student. I spent the formative years of my life in the UK and owe a lot of my personality to this place. It was just the second day of my tour with Grant's and it felt like I'd been there forever.
It was a big day for me along with Mateusz, Ansis, Nikita, Kaloyan who had all assembled there, representing their respective countries as their Brand Ambassadors along with Rob Allanson, our global brand ambassador. Girvan Distillery is the place where some of the finest whiskies from William Grant's & sons are created. It is also home to the Ailsa Bay Distillery and the world famous Grant's Whisky and Hendrick's Gin.
Here is where we saw and leant the art of making whisky utilizing a first-of-its-kind patented vacuum distillation technology. This is the unique process which keeps our whisky light, and delicate, making Grant's one of the most loved whiskies in the world. On this day, we learnt a lot about the technicalities of creating a blend and went through numerous rounds of nosing & sampling various malts and blended whiskies. Finally, after several enjoyable and enlightening whisky tasting sessions, we set out to create our own blend aptly called "The Grant's Whisky Ambassador's Blend". A single estate concept- it is a blend of 2 very different Girvan Single Grains and two Ailsa Bay Single Malts, and I cannot wait to taste it again next year once it's been married.
From what I understood, I firmly believe that the process requires an innate sense of knowing the whisky's nuances. That's why Grant's over a period of 100 years only has had 5 master blenders, which is a testimony to the unique taste and flavour of Grant's whiskies. It was a long day that didn't end with creating the special blend. This was the day we also learnt about "Cooperage", one of the most important aspects of creating the perfect whisky. This method is older than the whisky itself which is about preparing and maintaining the wide variety of wooden barrels that are used to age the whisky.
As we concluded the day, I had a profound understanding of the rich history and heritage of William Grant's & sons and realized how every employee at the distillery viewed their colleagues as part of their own family. Something that is very integral to the success of our whiskies. Today when I look at the classic bottle of Grant's whisky, I bond better with it. I had a lot more to imbibe as the day unveiled itself; with this hope and excitement, we drove back to the hotel.
The third day in Glasgow was the most excellent part of the trip. On this day, we had to visit the Grant's warehouse, which stores all the whiskies created from different years, with some aged to over 50 years. It is at this warehouse where the whiskies age and get their unique distinguishing characteristics. The memories of this day will remain fresh in my mind forever as we tried some amazing Cask strength whiskies and it was an absolute brilliant experience.
After that, we also met the creator, master distiller of Hendrick's Gin who gave us some tips on the process of creating gin and took us through an excellent gin tasting session. At the end of the training sessions, all the brand ambassadors (Grant's and Hendricks) went to have dinner at Turnberry Golf Resort, which is one of the most prestigious golf courses in the world. It also hosts the biggest golf championships and is owned by Mr. Donald Trump.
The fourth day was dedicated to some outdoor excursions and we decided to enjoy the Scottish countryside by indulging in a bit of trekking and fishing. I am happy to report that in spite of the lack of fishing experience, India gave a good account of itself in the mini-contests we made up amongst us. Our last night ended with a dinner at a local Indian restaurant where I ordered Indian food for the entire team and took special joy when the guys were panting over the spices, which was similar to what I was doing when sampling different whiskies!
The trip was so indulging, refreshing and educational that the entire tour ended at the blink of an eye. On the last day after I checked out of the hotel, I was sat in the airport lounge, sipping on some coffee (Yes Coffee!!) reminiscing the first day of the tour, when I had reached the hotel from the airport and was introduced to all the other brand ambassadors.
This had surely been a whirlwind ride that acquainted me with the history and making of Grant's- resplendent through its range of whiskies and its brand ambassadors and I feel both privileged and fortunate to be one of the flag bearers of this globally celebrated brand.
- Rohan Bhardwaj