Douglas Cook: ‘whisky brings people together’


We spoke to Douglas Cook from GlenDronach Scotch Whisky about his and Australia’s love for Scotch when island2island (Australian distributor for GlenDronach) brought him to Australia recently.

What are your thoughts around bespoke whisky bars that are popping up?

This is very encouraging. They are wonderful places to learn about whisky and delve into the superb variety of whiskies in surroundings, which are fitting to the appreciation of Scotch whisky. I first discovered whisky in a bespoke whisky bar and my lasting memory is the fact that I was surrounded by people who shared a common passion. The passion for whisky is infectious and the great thing is, no matter where you come from or what language you speak, whisky brings people together.

What is the role of the bartender in promoting GlenDronach in Australia?


Bartenders play a significant role in promoting our whisky.  With their knowledge and passion, bartenders play both an educational and cultural role.

And have bartenders been receptive to GlenDronach over here?

Absolutely! I am very encouraged by the recognition of The GlenDronach in Australia.  As a medium-sized independent distillery company, we find that meeting bartenders through tastings is an effective way of spreading the word. Whether for the most experienced of whisky lovers or those who are taking their first steps into the vast world of whiskies, The GlenDronach is seductive and has great appeal. I can see that bartenders recognize this.

What advice would you give to any bars stocking or wanting to stock your whisky?

Taste it and get to know the nuances of our different expressions.  We use different types of sherry casks in the maturation of our products, so one expression differs from another, not only in terms of age, but also in terms of the cask influence. Many customers look to the bartender for advice and value their personal opinion. As such, bartenders are opinion leaders. Knowing your product is essential.

Is there a typical drinker for your whisky?

Not really. I have seen men and women of different ages and from many different countries and cultures seduced by The GlenDronach.

Does GlenDronach belong on the back bar or front bar?

The GlenDronach is generally found on the back bar as it is a dram which people “in the know” appreciate. As we have quite a few expressions e.g. The GlenDronach 12 Years Old ‘Original’, The GlenDronach 15 Years Old ‘Revival’, The GlenDronach 18 Years Old ‘Allardice’, The GlenDronach 21 Years Old ‘Parliament’, even on the back bar the GlenDronach “spectrum” is impactful.

What makes GlenDronach special? 

GlenDronach Distillery is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, dating from 1826. Situated in the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire, it is also one of Scotland’s most picturesque distilleries. At GlenDronach Distillery our whisky patiently matures in superior quality sherry casks of which around 90% originate from Spanish sherry bodegas. Our malts are created and matured in a traditional way, with great passion and…patience.

We also take care to uphold the traditional brand of The GlenDronach. Bursting with the most succulent aromas and flavours reminiscent of richly seasoned fruit cake, dessert spices and dark chocolate, The GlenDronach is a big, full-bodied Highland dram with a long, memorable finish; the type of richly sherried malt which has become less common through the increased use of American bourbon casks in the Scotch whisky industry.

What are the opportunities for whisky in Australia?

Across the world, Scotch whisky is becoming the international drink of choice. Consumers are become increasingly informed about the quality of spirit and subtleties of Scotch whiskies and a lot of prestige is attached to it.

It is a fine spirit, which takes years to mature, has provenance and heritage. Whisky is booming in many regions of the world and this is, in part, due to changing demographics and economies in many countries.

Despite the strength of the wine and beer markets in Australia, premium spirits like Scotch whisky are also finding their place in the market. As more Scotch whiskies find their way into both the on and off-premise through the increased knowledge of professionals, consumers now have access to a greater choice of Scotch in Australia than ever before.



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