- interview by Sara Gorelick
Sara had a chance to catch up with Charlie Whitfield, The Macallan Brand Ambassador for North East America, over a drink at Lantern's Keep at The Iroquois Hotel in New York City. Over a delicious cocktail by Theo Lieberman, the two shared a laugh while Charlie regaled Sara with stories of his lifetime with the renowned Scotch Whisky.
SG: So how did you get to where you are today?
CW: Having worked in the Duty Free industry for the last six years, it seemed the natural step to follow my passion and pursue a career in the Scotch whisky industry when I moved over here to America.
SG: I heard a funny story about you and your grandmother when you were a little one having to do with this lovely spirit...
CW: My association with The Macallan started when I was a wee baby; my grandmother entered me into a raffle and I won first prize: two cases of The Macallan 10 Year Old! I didn't find this out until I was of legal drinking age, when my Dad told me the story and handed me a case. Unfortunately the other one had mysteriously disappeared in the preceding years!
SG: Is it true that Macallan provided you "Dutch" courage when you popped the big question?
CW: Even before I got this job, myself and my wife were huge fans of The Macallan. So it seemed only natural that it would play a part in my proposal, whilst walking in the snowy Highlands of Scotland. I had a small bottle of The Macallan 12 Year Old in my pocket for a little "Dutch" courage beforehand and to help us celebrate afterwards (when I got the answer I was looking for)!
SG: Seems only fitting that you are where you are now! Where else might we have seen you?
CW: I used to travel the world extensively in my previous job (I think I visited 55 countries in total), so you could well have seen me on an airplane. You might also see me on a rugby field, which is another passion of mine. I currently play for the Village Lions here in NYC. I wish you saw me more often on the ski slopes!
SG: So, what's your favorite aging of The Macallan and why? Give us an education.
CW: In the warmer summer months, it has to be The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old, which has a slightly lighter and smoother style, but is still full of delicious notes of vanilla, chocolate and orange. In the winter, I'm more a fan of our Macallan Sherry Oak expressions (i.e. 12, 18, 25, 30), a richer, more full-bodied style with dried fruit and spice characteristics. Perfect sharing with friends next to a roaring log fire on a cold winter's day! The Macallan Sherry Oak 25 is a particular favorite of mine, rich complex flavors on the palate and a deliciously smooth and long finish.
SG: What's your go-to cocktail?
CW: As I look ahead towards the winter months, I would have to say a Hot Toddy, which some people argue also has medicinal benefits. It is perfect blend of Scotch, honey, fresh lemon juice and hot water.
SG: There isn't any of The Macallan around. What are you drinking?
CW: I also love a good Pinot Noir, Malbec or ice cold beer, depending what mood I'm in.
SG: Fast forward five years. Where are you?
CW: Sitting on a beach, the wind gently ruffling my hair, cocktail in hand, reading a good book whilst listening to the waves gently breaking over the sand.