Bruichladdich, a Single Malt Whisky made from 100% Scottish Barley was launched in Malaysia recently, Ong Chin Huat spoke exclusively to Murray Campbell, the Brand Ambassador and a man with family connections to the Bruichladdich distillery to finds out how the whisky compares with other spirits and his favourite way to drink this world famous tipple.
LM: Tell Luxurious Magazine about your family background and how it was like growing up in the village of Bruichladdich?
MC: I actually grew up in the west coast town of Oban, not far from Islay. My mother is from Islay so I would spend my school holidays there visiting my grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. Back then my grandparents lived on Sunderland Farm (one of the farms now growing barley for Bruichladdich), it wasn’t until I was in my teens that they moved in to the village of Port Charlotte. It’s hard to capture the feeling of Islay with words, you really need to visit to understand how special a place it is.
LM: What did you learn as a Regional Sales Manager building the brand in Asia?
MC: A Regional Sales Manager for an independent distillery really is a multi-faceted role. In each market I was responsible for sales, marketing, logistics and brand education. I was fortunate enough to visit these markets regularly and gain a better understanding of the separate needs of each market. There is no golden formula for building your brand in a market, each one is unique and requires a different approach.
LM: How is the Bruichladdich brand perceived in Asia compared with in the UK or Europe?
MC: Consumers in the UK and Europe are definitely more aware of the brand than in most of our Asian markets. In the UK and Europe we have long been known for our innovate streak and for challenging conventional thinking in the whisky industry. In SE Asia we are still a relatively unknown brand so there is still plenty of brand education to be done in this part of the world.
LM: When is the best time or occasion to drink whisky?
MC: The location and the occasion will depend on the individual, but it definitely has to be when you are in the company of good friends. It could be in a swanky hotel bar, on a windy and wild Scottish beach or a wee dram on a mountaintop after a long hike. When I try a great whisky the first thing I want to do is find a time to share it with my friends.
LM: How does whisky compare with other spirits?
MC: Whisky is often described as the most flavour complex spirit in the world. In addition to this there are now many new distilleries all across the world making great whisky (many of the smaller distilleries being increasingly innovative). These days there is so much choice for consumers. I think this is what has made, and will continue to make, whisky such a popular drink.
LM: Do Asians consume whisky differently from Europeans?
MC: If so, what’s the difference? I think it’s very difficult to clump Europeans and Asians in to two groups of drinkers. Whisky drinkers in Spain drink their whisky differently than people in Germany. In Asia, whisky drinkers in Japan will consumer differently than drinkers in Korea. I personally find it very enjoyable discovering how different countries like to drink their whisky!
LM: What is your favourite way to drink whisky?
MC: I usually drink my whisky straight, but also drink it with ice and water, in a highball, and in cocktails. It usually depends on the mood I’m in and where I am at the time. For example, if I was sitting at an outside bar in SE Asia in the summer heat I’d much prefer a whisky with a big chunk of ice than to drink it straight.
LM: How does Bruichladdich differ from its competitors?
A. Bruichladdich are an Islay Single Malt Whisky producing an unpeated single malt whisky, that alone is very different from other Islay whiskies. We do, however, also product a heavily peated whisky (Port Charlotte) and the world’s most heavily peated whisky (Octomore). When it comes to our packaging we are trying to make whisky more accessible to different types of consumers, and while we do have very modern packaging, our production methods are very traditional, still using the same production methods that were being used when the distillery was built in 1881.
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