Interview - Ronnie Cox from The Glenrothes

Next up in my series of interviews of people in the whisky industry is Ronnie Cox, Brands Heritage Director for The Glenrothes

Not actually located in Glenrothes but from Speyside, The Glenrothes distillery is going from strength to strength and releasing some absolutely cracking whiskies.

Russell Anderson 1. How long have you been involved in the Whisky Industry?

Seven generations that I know of.

2. What’s your earliest Whisky Memory?

Climbing through the peat bogs on Ben Rinnes with my grandfather to meet a crofter with an illegal still.

3. What’s your proudest moment in your career within the Whisky Industry thus far?

Furthering the consumers’ understanding that the most important tool to appreciate a great single malt is an appropriate tulip-shaped glass.

4. What was the last dram you had?

A Glenrothes 1985 at 11.30 (PM!) in the Jumeirah Hotel, London.

5. What other whiskies and/or distilleries inspire you and why?

Those which strive for excellence over volume. Those which act on the findings from the SWRI (Research Institute) in the realms of distillation and maturation.

6. What is your dram of choice?

That’s not a fair question. It’s like asking which is your favourite painting, poem, song or wine. It’s all about mood. The more I discover about whiskies the more opportunities I recognise to enjoy them in. The terroir of the drinking environment is as complex as the terroir of wine making or whisky maturation.

I tend to highlight a pre-dinner moment with either a Glenrothes Vintage ’98 or an Alba Reserve, or a post-dinner event with a conversational ’95 or on special occasions, a Vintage ’88 or older. Following a dinner where I have struggled with conversation then it’s to the back of the cabinet where lurks in preparation for this moment; the only dram currently able to redeem the situation; a delicious Vintage 1978.

7. The whisky industry seems very strong at the moment, where do you see it going over the next few years?

Obvious expansion will come with corresponding promotional support. The Scotch Whisky Industry (SWI) is a myriad of small and big players. There’s room for all serious distillers. Categories in spirits come and go with fashion but serious spirits will stand the test of time. Collectively the SWI has more ambassadorial evangelists around the world than any other spirits category. This fact alone has helped improve the single malt sector as the undisputed blue-blood-line of the SWI. Understanding flavour is key; the regeneration of the consumer is paramount.

8. Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Alive; watching the industry prosper and in the dusk of a career. My father said that I would never find a post-student career to pursue my interests in drinking and travelling. The prodigal son returns having achieved what he set out to do.

9. What is the strangest whisky superstition you’ve came across?

They’re all as strange as the question but if you mean myth, then I think the strangest is the old fashioned belief that whiskies should be consumed neat. That is like judging a book by its cover or a man by his suit. With the addition of water real discoveries will be made, the character and structure/complexity will be revealed and the palate oft-relieved!

10. What dram would you absolutely not be able to live without?

The fresh, conversational, fulfilling one. The Glenrothes Vintage 1995 or its ‘conversational’ predecessor the 1991. I will always try to have reserves of these Vintages for I am not alone in realising their properties. Like with several of my friends, returning to the shop to repurchase your favourite Vintage is always filled with anticipation; will it still be on the shelf or has its position been replaced with another Vintage? As the word spreads of this rising star in the world of malt whiskies the collectors will always want those Vintages which are no longer available from the distillery. Their price usually rises accordingly. Scarcity and the rising price accorded, is a jewel for the collector but this is counter-balanced with irritation for the consumer like me. But, wasn’t it always thus?

Many thanks to Ronnie for taking the time to answer these questions and I hope you enjoyed viewing them, more in this series in the coming weeks and remember to have a look at The Glenrothes website for more about this stunning range of whiskies.

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