How this woman went from bartender to global whiskey expert
Former bartender Georgie Bell turned her passion for whiskey into a legit career and she gets to travel the world. Job perks, like whhaatt.
Currently based in the UK, she says that a few skills needed for succeeding as a Whiskey Ambassador are bypassing jetlag in efforts to be ready at a moment’s notice. It’s clearly a job you have to talk the talk and strut the walk right off the plane and into a tasting.
In my opinion, these types of jobs are some of the most exotic on my “millennials with cool jobs” radar. To be able to converse about “cinnamon flavored” whiskey ( hello Fireball shot!) should definitely win you cool points on Bumble.
After all, representing a spirits brand, one that is probably worth millions, is NBD. Here what Georgie Bell told us about being a whiskey ambassador.
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How did you become a Whiskey Ambassador for Bacardi?
I joined Bacardi one year ago as their Global Whisky Ambassador – looking after Dewar’s – the most awarded Blended Scotch Whisky – and our 5 single malts: Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and The Deveron.
It’s an incredible family of whiskeys and I’ve always enjoyed a dram of them – I’m fascinated by their histories and production processes, so it was an incredible opportunity to be approached about.
Where were you working before this?
I’ve been working specifically in the whiskey industry for 7 years, and I originally started out as a cocktail bartender in Edinburgh. Since then I have worked for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society as their first Global Brand Ambassador, and for Diageo as their Global Mortlach Ambassador. In that time, I also gained a second degree in distilling with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, and am the youngest female to be granted Livery with the Worshipful Company of Distillers.
What type of skills do you need to become an ambassador?
First and foremost, a true passion for the spirit you’re representing. You find that in the ambassador world, we’ve all come in from different angles and experiences, but this fact remains true throughout. I’m a bit of a geek, so have come in from an educational standpoint, aiming to learn as much as I can about the whiskey category.
In a global position you travel a lot, so you need to be able to bypass jetlag, and be ready to go and present at a moment’s notice. You need to be dedicated to the job, a ‘yes’ person, and you need to be able to present well. It’s a sociable job – always talking and meeting new people which is part of the job I enjoy the most! You also need to learn to balance – I might be working on one side of the world, but still emailing and planning a trip to the other side of the world at the same time.
What are some of the perks of the job?
Honestly, whiskey is my passion – so to be able to talk about it, educate and introduce people to the category daily is a massive perk for me – it means work doesn’t feel like work. I love traveling (my first degree was in Geography) so being able to explore the world is incredible; so is meeting new people across the world and exploring different cultures. Another big perk is working for Bacardi – as a family owned company they really care about the heritage of their brands and I love working with Bacardi teams in different countries.
What is your advice for drinking on the job?
You know, when I’m hosting tastings, training, and dinners, I don’t actually drink. Just like you wouldn’t drink while doing a desk job, I take mine just as seriously. Of course, there is an element of enjoying a whiskey or two, or cocktail, but life is all about balance. I work out most mornings, eat healthily, don’t smoke and make sure I schedule in no drinking days. This is key to living an active, healthy, balanced life.
What are some of the challenges of being a whiskey ambassador? Are there a lot of females in this industry?
Women have been involved in the whiskey industry from the very beginning – from Helen Cumming who founded Cardhu distillery, through to our Master Blender Stephanie MacLeod. Women actually make up a big part of the whiskey industry in Scotland; they always have. And the modern image of whiskey is changing from a “man’s only” drink to”‘a sociable, convivial drink for all.”
I would say the biggest challenge is juggling jet lag with work and emails to the other side of the world, and being away from friends and loved ones at home rather than being a woman.
What are some of your favorite whiskey brands to try?
Dewar’s is the heart of what we do, and I love nothing better than a Dewar’s 12 highballs with either Soda or Coconut water. Having lived in Scotland for 10 years, I’m also a big fan of a half and half (beer and whiskey served side by side) and really enjoy a Craigellachie 13 with a fruity IPA.
What is your advice for women who want to be wine and spirit ambassadors?
The same as it would be to men! Go for it! Read up about a topic that fascinates you the most as much as you can, speak to as many people as possible, attend local tastings, go to production sites. If you’re into Scotch then visit Scotland and travel around some of the distilleries there – go behind the scenes and really embed yourself with it. And good luck! It’s an incredible industry to be a part of.