Interview with Amanda Victoria of the Scotch Malt Whisky SocietyEdit Post
Contributed by on Dec 07, 2016
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DrinkWire is Liquor.com's showcase for the best articles, recipe and reviews from the web's top writers and bloggers. In this post, Taste the Dram interviews Amanda Victoria, Communications Director for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
Amanda Victoria travels the world teaching cocktail and spirit education from a bartender's perspective, having worked for some of the world's most awarded bars, as well as premium spirit brands. She is a recognized leader in the global spirit industry as the face of elegant drinking and a revivalist of the modern-day aperitif category.
Amanda got her start bartending at a handful of the world’s best contemporary cocktail bars in New York City including PDT, Dutch Kills and Pegu Club. She is passionate about education and has worked extensively on an array of iconic brands in both national US and global marketplaces for portfolios such as Bacardi, William Grant & Sons, Rémy Cointreau, Moet Hennessy, and Pernod-Ricard.
Today, Amanda Victoria is the Communications Director for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society across America. As the face for the Society in the US, Amanda’s duties include leading spirit education, as well as cultivating unique partnerships on behalf of the SMWS. Amanda Victoria travels far and wide to provide consultation and educational seminars for trade, consumer, and press audiences. She has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine and the New York Times and also sits on the tasting panel of the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
So tell us Amanda, why did you decide to join the Scotch Malt Whisky Society?
A: I decided to join SMWS because of its unique positioning to represent an entire country’s production of their largest, most proudly and recognized exported spirit – Scotch whisky. This sort of opportunity has never been heard of in the world of spirits professionals, across all spirits categories, and has so much potential within the USA. I love whisky, I’ve named my dog Whisky in the past, and I think whisky is the fine wine of the spirits world in its versatility and all it has to offer. I could have never anticipated, or dreamed, the opportunity to direct the Society across the USA would have come along but I’m grateful it has been entrusted to me and our small, talented team.
What is your role as a Communications Director for SMWS?
A: My duties within the Society include leading spirit education, reviewing new Society cask offerings and cultivating unique partnerships on behalf of the SMWS and its members. I usually keep busy spreading the “spirit” (ha!) of the Society by conducting tastings and finding various ways to introduce SMWS to people who I feel will appreciate all that SMWS has to offer. Over the last six months within the Society, one of my favorite projects was launching a television show with the objective to bring Society bottlings to life to viewers at home – I host the show and interview my friends, who just so happen to be some of the world’s very best tastemakers in food and drink. Together we explore the casks through their regions and distilleries to bring to life flavors, pairings and occasions to best enjoy the whisky. I understand that from first impression, all our bottles are green and similar so it’s my job to make the introduction for our many Society offerings to those who can appreciate them.
What’s a typical day like for you at SMWS?
A: The Society, while growing, is still quite small, especially in the USA. No task is too tiny or too large for our team. On a typical day, I’m conducting tastings, writing whisky reviews, giving whisky education-related interviews, and traveling quite a bit to meet whisky-lovers. While the days look different each day, one thing is for certain: I’m ending many evenings tasting and scribbling in my whisky notebooks, often with my neighbors.
Amanda, what is your favorite dram of the moment?
How is The Scotch Malt Whisky Society differentiating themselves from all the other independent bottlers?
A: I wouldn’t introduce the Society as an independent bottler, yet more as a community of like-minded aficionados ranging from those new to whisky, to collectors. While we don’t distill ourselves, we are expert curators enlisting an advanced tasting panel. We also have some of the strongest relationships in Scotch whisky, having partnered with over 130 distilleries in Scotland and beyond to bottle the best of the best single cask, single malt – all done so at cask strength. But, in my opinion what makes us different than anyone else bottling is our community, our members, and the “Society” element of SMWS.
How does SMWS come up with the numbers and the names for each bottle?
A:The first number is the distillery number we partnered with to bottle the cask. The second number is the cask we’ve bottled from that distillery. For instance, 3.270 would mean the 3rd distillery SMWS has partnered with and the 270th cask we’ve bottled from them.
What are some of your favorite SMWS whiskies?
A: At SMWS, we talk about whiskies in terms of their regions, casks, age – and prefer to not name the distillery in which the cask we are bottling comes from. We classify the flavors we see a lot of within twelve (12) different proprietary labelings. My favorite regions are Islay and the Highland Islands, and my favorite styles are lightly peated and oily and coastal. I have greatly enjoyed Society bottle 4.217, playfully called “Nordic nosh” coming from the northernmost distillery in Scotland.
Whiskey — with an E or without an E?
A: For me, most definitely both! My love ranges from Blanton’s to The Balvenie, and our Society bottlings demonstrate both spellings and regions used within.
On that note, what are some of your favorite non-SMWS drams?
A: I’m accustomed through the SMWS to talk about whisky through a region and with that, I am definitely an Islay lady. I have been enjoying the elegant and complex/delicate peat that Bowmore and sherry casks have to offer, as of late.
The whisky market is becoming a global phenomenon, do you see the other countries like Taiwan, France and Japan becoming major players in the Whisky world in the upcoming years?
A: Certainly! the SMWS has partnered with several distilleries from Japan and from personal standpoint, I greatly appreciate a certain Taiwanese highball from time to time. Along with those countries that are already doing great things, I would say look out for India!
As a woman in this industry, what advice would you give other women who are interested in learning more about scotch and whisky?
A: Continue to embrace the invitational spirit of sipping camaraderie! Have your whisky they way you want to have it, when you want to have it, and with whom you want to have it with. For the record, this is the same advice I would give to men interested in learning more about scotch and whisky.
We wanted to thank Amanda for taking the time to sit down with us to do this interview. We know and expect to see great things from her in the upcoming years in this industry as well as within the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.