Introducing Mark Thomson, new Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador for the United Kingdom

11 December 2014

Here at Glenfiddich, we’re extremely lucky to have a highly talented team of dedicated Brand Ambassadors sharing their knowledge, passion and love of our whisky with people across all four corners of the globe. 

We recently chatted to the newest addition to our team, Mark Thomson, to find out a little more about life as a Brand Ambassador for the UK and what his role entails…

Mark, please begin by telling us a bit about your career history to date. How did you get into the drinks business?

I actually started my career in retail and was, at one point, the only male manager in the UK for Miss Selfridge.

After becoming a trainee buyer for a clothes shop, I supplemented my day job with a few bar shifts and the ‘bug bit’. I worked in various Glasgow clubs and bars for about five years before moving to London in 2000, a move that prompted me to create my own educational whisky programme, Dramatic Whisky, which later became The Spirits Bureau. I'd worked alongside Glenfiddich and its surrounding brands for a few years before the job vacancy for UK Ambassador arose.

What made you want to be an Ambassador for Glenfiddich and what excites you most about the role?

There were only ever a few brands out there that I would have worked for and funnily enough they are all family owned. My grandfather also introduced me to Glenfiddich at a young age and there was always a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old in his cupboard!

I'm quite excited to just be a part of this brand and it's development in new and exciting areas.

Can you tell us what your role as Ambassador entails? What’s a typical day for you?

There is nothing typical about any of my days! From a Glenfiddich perspective, I can work anywhere in the UK, but I'm focused on London, delivering training to staff from a varied array of venues. I am the face of the brand for new releases and host events on behalf of the company; I can be anywhere from Edinburgh one day to Brighton the next, in T-shirt and jeans one evening and black tie another. It's the sheer variety that I love most about it.

Tell us a bit about single malts in London and, more widely, the UK. Where does Glenfiddich currently sit amongst them all?

It's a really exciting time in the UK in general. Today, people are more clued up about whisky and London in particular is a great location as it offers such an international and varied crowd who bring with them their own view of whisky. There are also more dedicated venues appearing across the city with ever expanding selections of single malts.

What are some of the current trends in the single malt category that our readers should look out for?

Whisky lovers are always seeking out the unusual: single casks, rare expressions and those long lost distillery releases. But lately, I think there’s been a wonderful increase in the number of younger drinkers and female drinkers, who are not just discovering whisky but also really getting under the skin of it, which is great to see.

How should one try to enjoy single malts at this moment in time – what’s the best way to enjoy a dram?

Quite simply, there are no rules and anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't live in a modern world. Whisky, over any other drink category, seems to be shrouded in ritual and rules. At the end of the day it’s important to remember that whisky is a drink, and furthermore - you paid for it, so enjoy it how you want.

What’s your favourite Glenfiddich expression and why? 

I have always loved 15 Year Old but lately I've been drawn towards our 15 Year Old Distillery Edition. It has a slightly higher ABV at 51% and is predominately bourbon cask matured. It’s got exactly what I look for in my drams.

Which three London bars do you frequent in order to enjoy a perfect dram of Glenfiddich?

Mr Fogg's is a great venue with incredible drinks and they stock some of our older variants. City Social at Tower 42 also offers a great range of Glenfiddich and if the bar doesn't impress you, just turn around and look at the breathtaking views across London! Last, but by no means least, is Mark's Bar at Hix Soho. I've always loved this place, the serves are great and the buzz is even better. 

What would your three last drams on Earth be?

I’d have to go for a Glenfiddich 1974 Vintage, which is the year of my birth. It’s also a stunning dram and is light and almost salty on the palate. Following this, I’d go for an Old Pulteney 17 - my gran grew up in the village of Wick, where this whisky is distilled, and it reminds me of her. 

Lastly, it would have to be something with a bit of smoke (for variety) so I'd opt for Talisker 25 with its classic salt and pepper aromas and gentle peatiness. 

Share with us your favourite unknown Glenfiddich facts… 

Where do I start? We have been at the forefront of so many things. Glenfiddich was the first Distillery to sell single malt Scotch whisky outside Scotland and take it to America; we were the first Distillery to open a Visitor Centre; we've never stopped distilling (despite two World Wars and Prohibition); we have nearly 1 million casks resting across all our warehouses in and around Dufftown and we don't sell our spirit to anyone else. 

What are your top tips for people who are looking to invest in whisky? Are there any particularly good Glenfiddich editions for purchasing that will one day make good investments?

My number one rule is not to invest in anything that you can't afford to buy two of, so you can always make sure you’ll have one to enjoy the taste of.  

Secondly, only buy something you would drink yourself, just in case it doesn't eventually go up in value.

Or collect art - then at least everyone who comes around to your house can enjoy it too. Remember, whisky isn't for looking at…it's for drinking.

If you’re considering buying a single malt whisky for someone but you don’t drink Scotch yourself, what should you look out for?

The first (and most important) rule is to find out what they normally drink. So, start by taking a peek at their drinks cabinet at home! Then set a budget and stick to it. With this wee bit of information, you can easily go armed to a good whisky retailer and they will help you choose the right thing. Alternatively though, if you need a helping hand immediately, don’t hesitate to tweet either Glenfiddich or myself with a query you need answering.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever enjoyed a dram with?

There have been a few, but I think Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most well known. We shared a few drams. He's a very funny and down to earth guy.

If you could share a dram with 3 people, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

I would invite my grandfather (who recently passed away), Oliver Reed and Miguel Indurain, who has won the Tour de France five times. What a strange dinner party that would be but I admire all of them and I think they would all have a bundle of stories to tell.

If you too want to find out more about life as a Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador, you can get in touch with Mark on Twitter at @SingleMaltMark.