We are all about a little risk and adventure on occasion, Hello Joburgers – and as we are sure most of you know – sometimes uncharted roads lead to the most surprising places and so it has been for Johannesburg-born Mandy Henry.
She started her career in whisky quite by chance, and has since racked up some pretty impressive milestones like her induction to the hallowed Keepers of the Quaich, she is now serving as representative for renowned Scotch whisky brand Scottish Leader.
Scottish Leader is an award-winning, internationally respected brand of blended whiskies that brings together close to 30 of the finest hand selected malt and grain whiskies from across Scotland to create a range of smooth, accessible blends. Launched in 1976, this progressive brand sells in around 30 countries across the world.
Mandy’s representation of the brand comes at the head of more than 15 years’ work in the whisky industry since moving to Cape Town soon after matriculating in 1994. “I joined a small start-up business called College of Whisky back in 2002 and was responsible for setting up and co-ordinating a number of consumer whisky tastings.
“At that stage, I had absolutely no whisky knowledge and was only familiar with the brand my grandfather drank,” she says.
She moved quickly through the ranks and in 2010 was honoured by being invited to be one of very few South Africans inducted to the Keepers of the Quaich. The organisation is an exclusive and international society that recognises those who show outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry. New members are sworn in at a ceremony held twice a year at Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland.
“Induction was most definitely the biggest highlight of my whisky career, especially as one of only a handful South African women to enjoy the privilege,” says Mandy. “It’s closely followed by the opportunity I had to chaperone a group of whisky presenters on a tour to Scotland and Ireland.”
Following her induction Mandy has worked with the team from Night Vision Marketing to develop a whisky tasting programme for the main market. “It was exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed working with the brand advocates we trained to help us grow the programme, which we also launched in Angola.”
In addition to her work in whisky training, Mandy has also seen her career shaped by experience. Distilleries that stand out most for her are Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry, “a distillery I remember as being picture perfect”; Cardhu Distillery on Speyside – one of the first to be started by a woman; and, Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim and the oldest working distillery in Ireland.
There are no hard rules to drinking whisky. Experiment a little to find a way that works for you – if you drink single malts, don’t be closed to blends. Try whiskies you wouldn’t normally drink. You may be pleasantly surprised.”
Tickets are available at www.ticketpros.co.za, starting from R240 and include a tasting glass, 16 tasting vouchers and a bottle of Consol Glass Still Water. See you there, Hello Joburgers.
Hello Joburg was first published in April 1980 as a monthly restaurant and entertainment magazine. Over the years we have developed a network of patriotic Joburgers that love nothing more than sharing their experiences in this beautiful city!