How do you become a whisky ambassador?
That is a question they ask me a lot. In retrospect of the previous article, you are an ambassador when you want to convince other people how beautiful and tasteful whisk(e)y is. Most of the time it starts with when people are having a look at your collection with the question: ‘Boy, what a lot of whisky!. Personally I don’t really like it. So why do you have so many bottles?’
There are not many professional whisky ambassadors. Such a person needs a specific competence profile which starts with: PASSION. If you do not like whisky, you cannot talk about it with passion.
Furthermore a whisky ambassador needs to have the following competences: stakeholder-sensitive behaviour, the need to upgrade his knowledge, skills and behaviour, a professional attitude, being a perfectionist and a thorough knowledge about the production, marketing and sales of the business.
Without a decent personal network there is little chance you will make it as a professional. It is crucial to have and extend your network. It is not only the knowledge that will get you there, but you also need an extensive network of acquaintances. Whenever there is a job offer you see hundreds of people who apply.
Last but not least you have to respect your competitors. There is no viability without any competition, and this also applies to a whisky ambassador. At least you have to have your own identity and style, and be yourself.
The days that old men sat in comfy leather seats with a whisky in the one hand and a cigar in the other are over. In the last 20 years the average age of the whisky drinker has gone down, due to the work of whisky ambassadors. And luckily the average age of whisky ambassadors has gone down too. So not only the knowledge is very important but also being able to connect to all age groups.
I am very curious how the world of whisky ambassadors will look like in 5 years’ time. In the year 2000 I did research in Holland and it came out that only 0.3% (50.000) of the population (of over 18 years old) was interested or very interested in Scotch. In the meantime that number must have gone up drastically, if you consider the thousands of tastings, trainings and festivals that have been visited in the meantime.
I assume that more women will take over our jobs, and that is a good development. The goal in businesses is to have women in 30% of the important positions. I personally would love to see more than 70% women and the odd man to do our disciples work.
You are a true whisky ambassador when you can extend your passion. You can make it happen in a canteen after a game of football, through a whisky club, or even with your own tastings, or whatever.
It is a one in a million if this is your job, and you work for a small or large importer. There is just the lucky few….
And of course, there’s a downside to it. But that’s a subject for another story!
Have a dramtastic day!