Tullamore D.E.W.'s brand ambassador, John Quinn, is in South Africa for the Whisky & Spirit Live Festival, which ends Friday, November 10.
He's worked in the whisky scene for over three decades, John Quinn is a fountain of knowledge, so we asked him a few questions about whisky and why it's become a drink loved by younger consumers.
Whiskies were previously thought to be for a more affluent clientele, who are old and largely white. What do you think of whiskey being the drink that many young and urban youth, drink?
You’re correct whiskey was really largely for old people when I was young. Nowadays people around the world appreciate the craft required to make things like great food, great beer and of course great whiskey. I think young people are especially inquisitive in that way. That’s why I think whiskey appeals to them
Has that been the catalyst for the current Tullamore Dew campaign, which features a younger, diverse cast?
The whiskey in the bottle inspired this campaign. In Tullamore DEW we have a unique blend of 3 types of whiskeys, Single Grain, Single Malt and Single Pot Still, all of these whiskeys are triple distilled and they are matured in a combination of 3 different cask types, Ex Bourbon, Ex Irish Whiskey and Ex Sherry. So this is a beautiful (and unique) blend. We call it the Power of 3. Of course a blend is not unique to whiskey as all of us are a blend of our parents and their parents and going back as far as you like we can be a very rich blend. Hence the Beauty of Blend in all of us is aligned very well with Tullamore DEW.
South Africans love their whiskey (more than 4,1 million). What do you think it is about whiskey that makes it a must have for those who appreciate the beverage?
Younger consumers are inquisitive and are also health conscious so they want to know what they are putting into their bodies. Hence they want to know where that meat or that cheese comes from. The same with what they drink. And given whiskey is seen as a craft drink that takes years to mature I believe that’s why they have taken to it in recent years in particular. Oh – and it tastes great maybe?
Is that why you had to come to this year’s Whiskey & Spirits Live- to drop more knowledge about whiskey to a crowd that already appreciates it?
That’s exactly right and having been here in the past I now have a lot of whiskey friends here – so it’s great to catch up with them too.
For the uninitiated, what’s the difference between Scotch and Irish whiskey?
That could take a while – well one is distilled in Scotland and the other in Ireland. In Ireland most of our whiskeys are triple distilled and in Scotland most of theirs are double distilled. In Ireland we make a whiskey called Pot still and they don’t make it in Scotland and finally in Scotland they’ll sometimes use peat to dry the barley whereas we don’t do that in Ireland.
When it comes to how you drink your whiskey- are you a neat, whiskey stones or water, person?
I drink mine with a little ice, but also sometimes neat or with water. And in the summer with freshly squeezes apple juice over ice in a tall glass.
Most memorable time you’ve ever had a glass of whiskey? When was it?
Too many to tell – probably with a bottle of 30yo in my own house with my brother and a group of friends. I encouraged them to savour it, as it was very rare. My brother promptly threw the cork into my sitting room fire and we were forced to finish the bottle.