Martin Markvardsen is Highland Park’s Senior Brand Ambassador. Could this be the one of the coolest jobs in the world? Martin certainly thinks so… and we’re loving his work!
Take us back to the beginning - what did you want to be when you were growing up?
As a little boy, I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon – I had that dream for a long time – then boxing came into my life so I wanted to become a professional fighter. When an accident put a stop to that dream, becoming an elite professional soldier was next on the list. That actually happened as I spent 12 years in the Military Police Force. Today, I’m (almost!) grown up and now I think I finally have the job of my dreams.
How did your career in the whisky industry start?
I’ve always had a huge interest in Scotland and whisky. During a military exercise in Scotland I had the chance to visit a distillery and I completely fell in love with the world of whisky and wanted to find out everything about it – the production, the history, the people. I became a huge whisky fan and began conducting whisky tastings for local clubs and shops and ended up taking a full-time job in The Whisky World store at Copenhagen Airport. After a few years, I moved to Scotland as Whisky Manager for the world-famous Craigellachie Hotel. It was here that I was approached to become a Brand Ambassador for Highland Park and that’s when my passion for whisky turned into a dream-come-true job.
Can you describe what you do?
Being a Brand Ambassador is not always easy to explain. First and foremost, it’s about education – I educate consumers, customers, importers and our own staff. When I’m out visiting and presenting, I am the voice of the brand and being entertaining is key. When hosting tastings, I always need to have my facts right – that means knowledge about whisky in general and about other brands as well as Highland Park.
What’s the best part of your job?
Everything! I LOVE my job. The best part is connecting with people, being able to tell them about the best whisky in the world and seeing the smiles on their faces. Travelling to different places is always fun but it’s the reactions I get from people that I love most. Another favourite aspect is getting together with the team at the office and at our beautiful Highland Park distillery in Orkney. I learn something new every time and that’s the beauty of the job – I will never be fully educated and I love that.
Do you have a favourite Highland Park memory?
There are so many… in 2014, we crossed the North Sea to Orkney in a sailing boat to launch Highland Park Dark Origins. We hit the worst weather for 12 years and it was a wild and stormy experience, but so much fun when it was over! Visiting Urnes Stave Church with the team is another amazing memory – seeing the carvings on the wall that inspired the packaging for Highland Park today. But my best memory is simply when I was offered the role of Brand Ambassador.
What advice would you give to budding enthusiasts looking to work in the whisky industry?
Go for your dreams – knowledge, hard work and passion are the way forward. Then, dedication to the brand you work for and – very important – never think you know everything; always try to be better, then you will always do your best. You’ll find that this is a fantastic industry full of so many great people.