Ricky Crawford, 41, had his first taste of whisky on a pacifier in Paisley, Scotland, and now he gets to drink it anytime he wants.
As national brand ambassador for The Glenlivet, he travels all over the U.S. to convert people to the proper techniques for drinking the ‘water of life’ from Speyside and to create other brand ambassadors, one taste at a time.
As part of New York Tartan Week, a celebration of all things Scottish, Crawford can be seen at tonight’s Whisky Live in one of his four Glenlivet tartan kilts. I talked with him at Bloomberg world headquarters in Manhattan.
Smith: What is a brand ambassador?
Crawford: On the consumer side, it’s really my job to create ambassadors for Glenlivet. I want people to walk away after they’ve talked to me and say “Glenlivet is my whisky.” I really have a passion for it. So, if I can get a few people to feel that way after I’ve talked to them, I’ve done my job.
Smith: I understand you’re just back from the Playboy Mansion.
Crawford: Yes, a big golf tournament and party event at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Obviously, for our consumers, a very interesting event. I’ve also done tastings for the Blue Angels -- the guys that fly stunts -- after they’ve done their flying. Very well-behaved young men.
Smith: Speaking of responsible drinking, when do you drink?
‘My Day Is Filled’
Crawford: Typically I try not to wake up in the morning and start off with a whisky. However, there are some occasions where my day is filled. I may start off doing some tastings for the industry guys at 9 a.m. I might have a staff training at lunchtime at a restaurant. And then that afternoon, maybe see some other accounts.
In the evening, finish with a seminar or tasting. The trick is to look like you are tasting. If I was tasting whisky every time I was doing a tasting I’d be on my fourth liver by now.
Smith: When did you take your first drink?
Crawford: My first taste of whisky was probably when I was teething. My first glass of whisky was handed to me by my dad, and I was 16 years old. It’s kind of a rite of passage when your dad passes you a single-malt scotch. And of course, it was a Glenlivet.
Smith: I’m Scots/Irish. Do a lot of people tell you that?
Crawford: Yes, very often. It’s an honor for me when people are proud of the heritage they have. Scotland is a very small country but made huge inroads globally in innovation, in ideological thinking. It makes me proud to be Scottish when people come up and say they feel part of that.
Smith: Do you have a great job?
Crawford: I have the second-best job in the world. I say that, because I have to believe there’s one more job better than mine out there. Otherwise, I might get a big ego. I thoroughly enjoy it and I’m very passionate. I don’t think you could do this job without the passion.
Smith: Let’s do a tasting.
Crawford: Can I talk about the 18 because it’s my favorite? It’s mostly distilled in American oak but a little bit of sherry cask, and that gives a very complex, very balanced whisky.
Now you’ll notice I’m about to add a little bit of water to the whisky. What the water does is actually open the whisky up and release the flavors and its bouquet, and now it’s just ready to be enjoyed. The Glenlivet 18-year-old whisky is the best whisky to come out of Scotland, that is my honest, biased opinion, but I stand by it.
Smith: Is that your first drink today?
Crawford: Yes, it is. Won’t be my last!
Bar Basque in Manhattan sells The Cellar Collection 1973, a 40-year old Glenlivet, by the glass, for $212 per two-ounce pour.
(Catherine Smith writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
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