1) It's a man's game
Many people's initial perception of Scotch whisky is that it is still very much an (older) man's game. When I first stepped into this role I remember feeling very aware that I was a woman in a man's world and I knew I was taking on a big responsibility. Me, and my nose, are overall responsible for ensuring consistency across 10 million bottles of whisky a year. In peak production times I can smell (in the industry we call this 'nosing') up to 500 whiskies in a day to ensure each batch I put together tastes the same. Female master blenders are growing in our numbers, and the classic expectation of a man, in a traditional Scottish tweed jacket and a moustache is becoming less and less!
2) Single malts are better than everything else
I really want to dispel that blends are inferior to single malts. Blending a whisky is an art and is something I am hugely passionate about. Whilst people hear lots about single malts, learning about whisky flavours, how they are created, how they evolve over time, is hugely fascinating. Blends really sing to me as there are so many layers of flavour, like an artist works with colours to create images that are visually stimulating to the eye, I work with flavours in a way which are appealing to the palate. Single malts often get all the headlines and blended Scotch whisky is often underated - 90% of all Scotch whisky produced is actually blend!
3) Scotch whisky is an acquired taste
I've been told by many people, none more so than my mum, that they don't like the taste of whisky. I suppose whisky is perceived as the marmite of the spirit world, but I've always firmly believed that there is a whisky for everyone. They don't all taste the same, some are darker with oaky undertones and some are lighter with floral and fruity scents - it's all about discovering the flavour that's right for you, a bit like red vs. white wine.
4) You should only drink it neat
One of the biggest misconceptions that I come across is that whisky can only be enjoyed neat or with a cube of ice. It's a myth and snobbery that we need to move away from. The whisky industry is changing and so are the rules about how you drink it. I have always been an advocate of drinking whisky how you want, and with Cutty, this is very much the case. Tonic, Cola, Soda, Spring water, Sprite, Appeltiser, on the rocks, neat or even with Coconut water - be adventurous and try it!
5) Whisky is old fashioned
My final but most important point of all - the classic image of a greying man sitting in a leather armchair sipping a single malt is changing. As a Master Blender it is hugely exciting to introduce a new generation to blended Scotch whisky and revitalising a drink that has been part of our culture. Scotch whisky is now enjoyed the world over. Just like in the 1920s, today there is a large group of younger people rejecting traditional whisky due to its strong, demanding taste. I'm glad that I'm part of a time where people are experimenting and we can create mixed drinks and new serves to ensure that everyone can enjoy Scotch whisky.