Join us for an exclusive look at Jamie Morrison, the Brand Ambassador for The Glenturret Distillery, Scotland's oldest working distillery. Jamie's journey from humble beginnings as a tour guide in 2015 to their current known post demonstrates his passion for whisky as well as devotion to success. Check out to learn about Jamie's incredible career advancement and the secrets to his success in this exclusive interview cover below.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you progress into this role?
I began working at Glenturret in 2015 as a tour guide, I quickly fell in love with the process of whisky production and the romanticism of the whisky. I particularly enjoyed meeting people from all over the world who'd come together to enjoy a dram at our distillery. Laterally I became the assistant visitor center manager and oversaw the daily running of our visitor center in collaboration with the manager we ensured staff were trained to a high standard and many other elements. I had been going out and conducting paired dinners, appearances for the brand at trade events, etc for some time which I found I enjoyed. When the company was taken over in 2019 it was decided there would be a requirement for a BA and I applied for the role and was lucky enough to secure the Global Brand Ambassador role in 2019, the rest they say, is history!
Could you define your role and the tasks involved in your role?
As a Global Brand Ambassador - I am responsible for brand education, be that with end consumers, on-trade venue staff, off-trade retail staff, or whomever. I will travel and conduct seminars, and brand training sessions (virtually and in person). I work closely with our marketing team to feed intel on market trends, market visit plans, trade events, etc.
For me brand education begins at home, everyone on site must have a full understanding of our whisky and the technicality behind its creation (as much as I can). I'm really lucky to work closely with our whisky maker, this gives me an understanding of how the whisky is put together each year, I assist with tasting notes (career highlight so far), and I also get to be one of the first people on site to see a fully prepped vatting of a new product which is awesome!"
How do you Increase visibility and promote brand awareness around consumers and trade?
Targeted brand presence at trade events is hugely important for visibility to both, a focussed advertising presence in relevant publications and online. Social media posts. Building and fostering relationships with trade wherever possible through brand training, and building events together. One of the most powerful things we can do as a brand is bring people to our brand home and immerse them in what we do and how. I find this works particularly well as the majority of people I've hosted in this capacity have left with a much clearer understanding of us.
Image: Jamie Morrison
What strategies do you use to gain distribution, increase volume sales, and gain cocktail placements? Could you give me an example of an account you recently cracked?
For us, we work with distributors who understand the scarcity of the liquid we produce. We use a more exclusive distribution strategy where we work with our distribution teams to place our whisky in specific retailers, bars, restaurants, and hotels. It will never be available everywhere and therefore we need to be selective.
Volume sales I would say we will leverage our older stocks in conjunction with our larger volume liquid. If a retailer is looking for more older stock they would need to take up a certain amount of Triplewood for example.
Gaining Cocktail Placements - Depending on which SKU we are talking about it would be part of a negotiation and stock allocation conversation. We recently had our whisky listed by a couple of high roller bars within very well-known prestigious hotels in Las Vegas, this was a huge win for us.
Image: The Glenturret Distillery
What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
I would say the biggest challenge I face is that although I would love to see our brand in some markets and in particular some venues. I know that due to volume it simply right now isn't feasible. That means I have to have some difficult conversations with people who are desperate to list us or who want to be our importer in X or Y territory.
Nobody likes to disappoint people but there is no point promising the earth then delivering less than promised. I think in that way we are very transparent and genuine in what we say and what we deliver which I'm particularly proud of. Integrity is important.
What are the 3 things you focus on while pitching your product to buyers?
1) We are Scotland's Oldest Working Distillery
2) We produce a small quantity of high-quality single malt whisky produced by hand in a highly traditional manner
3) Our whisky makers' experience in the industry combined with our Lalique presentation gives us a point of difference
What do you focus on in your training and masterclasses? Could you take us through your training module?
In training and masterclasses, I tend to assume people know nothing about the brand or the distillery.
I will begin with a holistic overview of our location (image-led) and a little bit of historical context, usually picking snippets from our timeline to talk about depending on interest, etc.
I then look at our production, taking people from barley to spirit being filled in casks, and the points of uniqueness in our process. Developments made, innovation taking place, etc.
We will move into the latest annual release whisky range, working through often from New Make sampling to the core range and occasionally beyond.
Finishing with what the future might hold for the brand, recent accomplishments we are proud of. New markets opened etc then usually an open Q&A for the audience whomever they may be.
If it is a trade training session then it's likely we will talk more in-depth about cocktails, food pairings, little nuggets of information the team can talk to consumers about, etc which gives them a little bit more of a connection to us.
How do you ensure the success of your training programs? Through routine follow-ups or?
Success Criteria for me would be, to have the audience left feeling engaged with us as a brand, do they follow up with social media interaction with me with questions? If I follow up will they remember something about the session, has there been feedback made to our account manager in the distribution team? Have I heard anything via WOM that someone in the team at X was waxing lyrical about training you did or the team enjoyed X or Y whisky so they've put it on X or used it in Y?
What kind of marketing collaborations do you do with Hotels and Restaurants? Could you give examples?
We have collaborated with a few select locations and venues. The best example of this would be our Glenturret Gleneagles Collaborative bottlings. We have recently (late Nov 23) released our third bottling with them and I believe that this has been hugely successful for both brands. A celebration of our shared history, our shared geography, and our mutual love of exquisite hospitality. We have also done a special bottling for The Dorchester Hotel in London which is housed in a Lalique crystal decanter.
Maintaining relationships with your clients is a big part of your role, what are a few simple yet effective ways to keep that going?
Relationships are hugely important to me and I make a conscious effort to keep in touch with people wherever and however I can. Checking in with people, not for any particular reason but just to say hey, how are you.... is a really easy way to do this.
If I'm in a particular city or country I will try to go to venues and retailers where I know people to drop in and see how things are going and if they need anything from me. I often have pieces of POS with me to give people just as a nice thing to do and well who doesn't love a branded tee or a notebook....
I also will try my best to tag people and venues appropriately on social media if and when I post. It helps the venue if they want to repost, it can often highlight particular team members, and overall it's a nice connective thing to do.
I'll tell my friends, family, and colleagues if they're in X to go to Y and speak to Z who does a great cocktail or whatever which also continues to build that relationship.
Ultimately, we are all flying the flag for our industry so we should support and encourage each other wherever and however possible.
What kind of digital marketing do you do personally to promote your brand?
I use Instagram mostly, I try to use X or Twitter or whatever it's called these days too. I will repost and occasionally write up LinkedIn posts too. I signpost people to our socials wherever I go and will encourage photographs at events and shows and tag the brand etc.
How do you motivate distributor sales reps and what piece of advice would you have for newly appointed brand reps?
I think one of the best ways I can do this is to bring the distributor reps to the distillery and immerse them in our world. Show them the behind-the-scenes bits and encourage them to chat and ask whatever they want.
I firmly believe that motivation I think comes from within, if you are going to do something, do it right. Absorb as much as you can and ask as many questions as you can. There isn't a stupid question so go for it.
What sort of consumer brand awareness programs worked for you in 2023 and what do you plan to do in 2024?
I think exploring more relevant sponsorship programs is on the agenda for this coming year. I also think continuing to be about more than just our products is resonating with people. Our sustainability progress, our mentorship program participation, and our recognition of the whisky industry all help to drive awareness so I think we should continue to fly the flag for these important initiatives.
What are the current challenges the spirits industry is facing according to you?
Shipping is continuing to cause issues, higher costs for dry goods as well as base materials like barley are a challenge. There is also the rising energy costs that are troubling.
The speed at which current trends are setting and also changing means that we have to be highly adaptive and planning intensely for the future of our industry which is never easy.
What skill or topic you are learning currently and why?
I'm learning about toasting and charring levels of casks, looking at different barley varieties' effect on spirit quality, and trying to learn the Malayalam language which is much harder than I expected.
Your role involves collaborating with bartenders and mixologists. How do you foster creativity and innovation in crafting unique cocktails that showcase the distinct characteristics of your spirits?
I think one of the keys here is giving the bartender and mixologist the freedom to take the spirit and do what they want with it. I can show and use example recipes that have been created by our sommelier and bar team and take things from there. We together can try and create something that celebrates the distinct character of our distillery but continues to showcase innovation and flavor concepts. I'm a particular lover of seeing different textures in a cocktail so that's usually a focus for me.
Your favorite 2-3 distilling or spirits books?
Malt Whisky Yearbook - Ingvar Ronde
Whisky: Technology, Production and Marketing - by Inge Russell and Graham Stewart
Peat and Whisky: The Unbreakable Bond - Mike Billett