To support the ever-growing interest in Highland Park in the US, our stateside team is welcoming a fresh intake of ambassadors. This month, we catch up with Josh, Brian, Irene and Rob as they settle into their new roles.
Josh McEachern (a distinctly Scottish surname!) is based in Texas, living with his family in Flower Mound just outside Dallas, and he entered the premium drinks industry following a degree in Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management. Brian Roy (pronounced Rwa) is based in San Jose, on the southern shores of San Francisco Bay, and has been in the spirits industry for pretty much his whole adult life, working first as a bartender to pay his way through college. Irene Jeanotte is also in Texas, Austin this time, and her career in the drinks industry began with craft beer bartending followed by mixology and cocktail competitions and then an ‘immersion’ in single malts. Last but not least, Rob Corbari joins the team from Arvada, Colorado and, like Brian and Irene, started out his career with a spot of bartending.
What was the biggest attraction of working with Highland Park?
Josh: The whisky is delicious and well-made according to tradition – it’s also highly acclaimed by key industry figures such as Paul Pacult. Scotch is the drink of my ancestors – can’t you tell with a surname like McEachern?! – and single malt is an underused ingredient in cocktails which is a really exciting challenge.
Brian: To work for a brand with such immense potential.
Irene: Once I discovered single malts, Highland Park sat at the top of the list for me. I was drawn to the romance of Orkney as much as the balance of smoke and fruit and wanted to be part of a brand with so much history. I’m part Norwegian and I absolutely love Scotland!
Rob: Something that tastes this balanced and unique and comes from somewhere so rugged and beautiful – who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
What are you most looking forward to you in your new role?
Josh: Changing the way people think about and consume Scotch and using single malt in refreshing citrus-based cocktails in the hotter months (which is most of the year in Texas!).
Brian: Making Highland Park a name here, in the San Francisco Bay area.
Irene: Seeing other people experience a whisky that I’m excited to share through events and education.
Rob: Creating new experiences and memories with this incredible whisky for new groups of people.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found out about Highland Park since you joined?
Josh: The 9,000-year-old heather-rich peat and the five keystones of production that really separate it from other single malts.
Brian: The distillery is so far north and in such windy and harsh territory!
Irene: That the distillery team create innovations while staying true to traditions that date back to 1798.
Rob: That Orkney has the title for the shortest plane ride in the world – can’t wait to try it out!
Which Highland Park whisky is your personal favourite and how do you enjoy it?
Josh: 12 Year Old Viking Honour for casual sipping or cocktails and 18 Year Old for celebrations. I love 12 Year Old in a Rob Roy, paired with a fattier cut of steak or a burger.
Brian: 18 Year Old Viking Pride with one large cube of ice and a nice medium rare steak – a filet mignon if we’re really doing it up!
Irene: 12 Year Old, 25 Year Old, Cask Strength and Ice Edition. I’m mulling the idea of pairing Cask Strength with a Carnitas Taco right now.
Rob: 18 Year Old is perfection but right now I’m enjoying a root beer float with Cask Strength.
Which Highland Park would you recommend to a friend who hadn’t tried our whiskies?
Josh: Start with the 12 Year Old – delicious and great value – and then experiment with different flavour profiles such as more sherry or oak influence.
Brian: 12 Year Old, so they can realise just how good something can taste without breaking the bank.
Irene: I started with 12 Year Old – and it was magical – so I’d start them there too. But I like to listen to what flavours and experiences people like, so I may change my recommendation to suit their palate.
Rob: The Dark – subtle smoke but huge sherry notes – I’d spoil them right away.
Once travel restrictions lift, what’s top of your tour list (aside from the distillery of course) when you can visit Orkney?
Josh: St Magnus Cathedral and the town of Kirkwall. Then I’d need to head over to the Mull of Kintyre to start tracing my Scottish ancestors!
Brian: I’m a wildlife buff so Marwick Head to see the puffins.
Irene: I’m excited for it all; especially the nuances of production! I’d also like to have some local fish and chips after our distillery tour!
Rob: The Ring of Brodgar fascinates me – it’s the largest Neolithic standing stone circle in Scotland.