We speak with The Glenlivet brand ambassador and whisky enthusiast Maddie Gold about her passion for the liquid amber - and why she’s tossing out the rule book to advocate for it as a summer staple.
What got you into whisky?
It sounds cliché, but growing up in Scotland, I’ve always been surrounded by whisky – visiting local distilleries was my Grandpa’s favourite pastime, so it really was only a matter of time! Before I joined The Glenlivet, I worked for an independent distillery as part of a really small, intimate team. When the opportunity arose to work at a brand so globally renowned as The Glenlivet, I jumped on it! It’s been such a pleasure representing such a well-respected and dynamic brand in Australia.
What stereotypes have you faced as a female whisky expert?
Whisky-lovers can be very protective over the category, and are always very proud of the knowledge that they have amassed - so when they are confronted by a young woman who knows her stuff, they can be quite surprised! Unfortunately, there have been occasions where the sincerity of my passion and my knowledge have been challenged, but generally speaking, it’s never an issue. I’m in such a privileged position to be able to share both the rich history and heritage ofThe Glenlivet, and show that whisky is for everyone and should not be a daunting or intimidating category.
There has been a rise in women drinking whisky which is great! What do you think is behind that growth?
There has been a huge rise in women drinking whisky, which is brilliant news. There have definitely been a few shifts that may have caused this, but perhaps most importantly, there is so much more representation in the industry now. We have Karen Betts, who is the head of the Scotch Whisky Association, and there are a rising number of notable female distillers coming to the forefront.
At The Glenlivet, we are so passionate about opening up the category and removing all of the barriers and traditional rules that can be daunting. For generations, people have been led to believe that there is a strict right and wrong way to enjoy whisky –this simply isn’t the case and it has excluded people, especially women from the category.
We recently released our new campaign film, Breaking Walls, showcasing the pioneering spirit of both The Glenlivet distillery and its drinkers. With globally recognised distilleries such as The Glenlivet coming forward and ripping up the rule book, we are seeing masses of consumers, particularly women, coming into the category, which we love to see!
What are some of the biggest misconceptions around whisky?
For me, the biggest misconception is that there is a specific way that it should be consumed. It’s simply not the case! If you like your single malt with ice, or soda, or even fresh apple juice, that’s okay! The only rule that we have at The Glenlivet is that you should always drink it how you like it.
Are there any major 'no-nos' when it comes to preparing or drinking it?
Absolutely not! Whisky is such a diverse category with such a wide range of flavour profiles, the possibilities of how you may enjoy it are endless. Whisky is brilliant neat and it’s brilliant in cocktails!
If you’re looking for a very untraditional way to enjoy your whisky, I’d suggest The Glenlivet Royale. Simply add 30mL of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old to a champagne flute with a teaspoon of lemon, and a teaspoon of honey. Give it a little mix, top with sparkling wine, and garnish with a lemon twist.
What's your key advice for someone who's never really tried whisky?
If you are new to the category, I would suggest starting with a Speyside Scotch as they tend to be fruity and light. I may be biased, but The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is a perfect place to start – it’s delicate, fruity, and creamy. I would suggest trying the whisky neat first, maybe with a little water to soften it.
Then ultimately, my best advice would be to experiment with it! Founder’s Reserve is brilliant with soda, pineapple juice, and iced tea. Don’t be intimidated or afraid of breaking the ‘rules’ – experiment and you’ll find 100 ways to enjoy your whisky.
Can you break down what to look for when buying a whisky - what is this single malt business? Single cask?
Whisky can be a very confusing category when you first approach it! In Scotland, we have blended whisky, Single Malt whisky, and single cask whisky. To compare them to each other would be to compare an apple, to an orange, to a banana – they really are all so different.
Blended whisky is made up of grain and malt whisky that comes from a number of distilleries. SingleMalt whisky, such as The Glenlivet, comes from only one distillery and is made entirely from malted barley. We do, however, have a master blender at The Glenlivet! It is their job to blend together a number of single casks to create a beautifully complex, yet delicate profile.
Single Cask whisky can be made from grain or malt, but it is aged in one single cask, from one distillery. We have a number of very rare single casks at The Glenlivet. These are hand-selected for their exceptional quality, and released when they have reached peak maturation.
When you are looking to buy your single malt, have a look at what type of cask it has been aged in.American oak will traditionally give vanilla and sweetness, where European oak will give dried fruits and tannins. Then there are special finishes, such as The Glenlivet 15 Year Old, which has been selectively finished in French Oak, giving spice. Generally, a higher age statement will give depth, but this doesn’t mean that a non-age statement or a younger whisky will be lacking.
Whisky is traditionally considered a winter drink - cosy fireplaces, armchairs, sweaters. How would you serve it over summer?
At The Glenlivet, we love breaking traditions! It’s this attitude that led us to our summer signature serve – The G&Tea. We partnered with T2 Tea to create a beautifully light and refreshing summer serve using their Packs-a-Peach tea. Simply brew in tepid water for around 10 minutes, and pour into a tall glass of ice with 30mL of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, and you have your perfect single malt for summer. This also works as a punch or jug serve for those long lunches and barbecues in the sunshine.
Tips for serving whisky at home?
Don’t overlook it when you’re looking for a dinner pairing! I love hosting friends and pairing food with whisky. If you’re serving seafood, look for something smoky, like our Nadurra Peated Cask, or if you’re serving tacos with a nice zesty salsa, go with something bold and fruity like The Glenlivet 12 Year Old. If you’ve a guest who doesn’t think they like whisky, try them with some flavoured sodas or fresh juices as mixers. The key, really, is experimentation, and that’s what we would always encourage at The Glenlivet. We really love pushing the boundaries and breaking traditions.
Your favourite whisky cocktail recipe?
My absolute favourite whisky cocktail to make, which is perfect for the warmer months, is my raspberry smash. Take a cocktail shaker or anything you have lying around – a protein shaker works well too – and add 30mL of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve or 12Year Old, a teaspoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar syrup (or caster sugar will do!), a handful of raspberries, and plenty of ice. Shake everything hard, and then strain into a tall glass full of ice. Top this up with soda, and brace yourself for a delicious, fresh single malt experience.
This content was created in paid partnership with The Glenlivet.