“Don’t just pour coke in it”: Brian Kinsman on whisky

By Tam Allenby and Andy Young, TheShout

Glenfiddich’s Malt Master Brian Kinsman encourages bartenders to experiment with his whiskies – but don’t just pour coke in it.

BARS&clubs recently caught up with Kinsman to chat about Glenfiddich’s latest release, the highly exclusive 1977 Rare Collection Cask No. 15176 – only available at Duty Free outlets within Sydney and Kuala Lumpur airports (RRP $4352).

A recurring theme in the wide-ranging interview with Kinsman was experimentation – both in terms of whisky blending, behind the bar, and in the whisky industry generally.

Kinsman encourages experimentation among bartenders using his whiskies, saying that “things have changed in my time.”

“I’ve been around 20 years and it’s moved on from where there might have been a slightly sniffy approach of ‘you don’t do anything to single malt’ – at most you put some water in it.

“But I think everybody has relaxed a bit more. But don’t destroy it, don’t just pour coke in it, treat it with a bit of respect and actually work with the flavour then we’re absolutely supportive of that.”

The Malt Master explained that Glenfiddich’s brand ambassador program totals around 25 employees around the world, with a lot of them former bartenders.

“We’ve also done an experimental bartender competition at the distillery for the last couple of years and I’ve loved that whole aspect, because it can be easy to get to a point where you almost forget people are drinking the products – you’re in the sampling room and the distillery and you are just so focused on the liquid.

“So it’s great when you actually see it coming to life in a completely different way, somebody putting a different flavour in a whisky and doing something unusual in a cocktail with it – that’s always brilliant to see.”

Kinsman also believes experimentation in the whisky industry is important, but only “as long as it’s not to the detriment of everything else you do.”

“My own view is that you need to have a really strong core… but on top of that it’s good to push boundaries and try new things. Ultimately if you look at different audiences, there’s a lot of people who just want to drink really great tasting single malt and you don’t want to compromise that.

“But there are others who are genuinely more up for something a bit different, they might be interested in the story and how you do it. I think as long as you do both, then experimenting is a really positive thing to do.”

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