I would like to take this opportunity to give a big GreatDrams congratulations to a true industry icon, Alan Winchester – Master Distiller for The Glenlivet as well as managing all of the distilleries owned by Chivas Brothers, who on Thursday evening won the ISC’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Having been at the International Spirits Challenge dinner and award ceremony, and having known Alan professionally for a couple of years now across various projects I have undertaken with Chivas Brothers, I can see why he has been given this tremendous accolade. His peers all respect him, during his 43 years service to the industry he has continually pushed boundaries with his work and how he optimises and protects processes at ‘his’ distilleries, and more than this you have to admire a man who passionately undertakes historical research and walking projects around old whisky areas, and must always be able to see a distillery from his house.
Alan is not only all the things above, but also been a Master of the Quaich for twenty-one years, has a Fellowship from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in Scotland and leads unique and immersive tastings at each year’s Spirit of Speyside Festival – one of which I attended and thoroughly enjoyed.
I once spoke to Alan about his dedication to the craft of making whisky and he told me, in his typically humble way that “this is a way of life for us, pure and simple”. Those eleven words perfectly sums up my understanding of how Chivas as a whole operates, but speaks volume for the man at the top of the production side of the business, who I often describe as being more akin to a proud lion, with his beaming smile and fantastic wit, than the Master behind the biggest selling single malt Scotch whisky in the world by volume
Since starting my little dedication above, I have released a press release that outlines his career in a it more detail:
“Starting out as a distillery tour guide before becoming the ultimate guarantor of THE definitive Speyside malt, The Glenlivet, Alan has experienced a number of significant achievements in his 40 years in the industry. He was the man behind The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, the number one Single Malt innovation globally in the past five years (IWSR, 2016), and more recently crafted The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve, a new Single Malt whisky selectively finished in high-quality cognac casks”.
Now in its 23rd year, the ISC is one of the most authoritative, respected and influential spirits competitions in the world. Founded on a rigorous and independent judging process, the Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the work and commitment of an individual who has made a significant impact on the drinks industry during their career.
Christian Davies, Editor of Drinks International, and a judge for the ISC, comments:
“Alan has been nominated, judged, by his peers. It is an enormous compliment to Mr Winchester for services rendered to the Scotch whisky industry down the years. He is not only a consummate professional, but a highly approachable, likeable guy who is able to convey the mysteries and complexities of the creation of Scotch whisky, in remarkably easy to understand terms.”
Miriam Eceolaza, Global Brand Director at The Glenlivet, comments:
“It’s hard to find someone who brings quite as much enthusiasm and dedication to their job as Alan and we’re thrilled that his hard work has been recognised. The ISC is one of the most prestigious awards bodies in the industry, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in particular celebrates true excellence. It’s an exciting time for Scotch and we are lucky to have Alan as The Master Distiller of The Glenlivet.”
Alan Winchester, Master Distiller at The Glenlivet, comments:
“I am honoured and touched to have received this award. I started my career at The Glenlivet in 1979, and over those years have witnessed a fair few changes. But the one thing that has remained the same is the dedication to excellence and the commitment to maintaining the exceptional quality for which The Glenlivet has become known. This passion and dedication is shared by the entire team at the distillery and I’d like to thank them for their support over the years. I couldn’t have done it without them.”