Sukhinder Singh: Outstanding Achievement in Scotch Whisky
The founder of The Whisky Exchange has enjoyed a three-decade career through which his unrivalled passion has spawned a business portfolio to match – across bricks-and-mortar stores, wholesale distribution, a bottling and product-creation arm, an online magazine and a distillery for own-label whiskies.
Where did your passion for whisky come from, and are you still as passionate now as when you first started?
After graduating from university, I helped develop and restructure my family’s liquor business. Working in my parents’ shop I always found single malt whisky the most interesting category. I was given a book called the Malt Whisky Almanac, written by Wallace Milroy, and this sparked the passion that I still possess today. In fact, I’m more passionate now than ever. Previously I was learning – now I’m sharing my knowledge.
What’s been the key to the success of The Whisky Exchange?
Whether it’s for Speciality Drinks, Elixir Distillers or Scotchwhisky.com, when looking at business I always do so as if I was a customer. My passion is split between how good the liquid is and the joy of rare old bottles. When I come across a whisky that I fall in love with, I try to buy it all so I can share it with my customers.
Would you consider yourself one of the world’s leading authorities on whisky? And what does that mean to you, to be an expert?
Being an expert really comes down to how much knowledge you have. I have been in the drinks business my whole life and started collecting whisky 30 years ago.
All the people I admired and looked up to have now retired and are no longer in the business. It seems that I am one of the longest serving people in the whisky industry now. And being an avid collector, I have pretty much had every bottle through my hands or at least have knowledge of it. I have seen many fakes, and find it quite easy to spot one nowadays.
What do you like most about the whisky industry at the moment? What’s exciting you?
I’ve seen the category grow from small, humble beginnings to something that’s now in the press regularly. It’s an amazing spirit that is living and breathing. It changes with every sip, at different times of day, with different seasons and with whom you drink it. It’s always exciting to try new whiskies especially when you find something amazing.
Have you noticed any consumer trends towards a particular style of whisky?
As new people and new countries discover whisky, demand always increases – as is the case for long-aged whiskies. Japanese whiskey has opened the door for consumers willing to try whiskies from countries that you would never expect, such as Taiwan and Australia.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start collecting whisky?
Always start with the styles of whiskies you like to drink. Come up with a rationale for collecting, looking at the end goal and see if this is achievable. If not, then redefine your parameters for collecting to fit the amount of space you have and your budget.
You’re starting a new distillery on Islay. How did that come about?
One side of our business is buying casks of whisky and bottling under our label. We’ve found it difficult to source good liquid over the last few years, so I decided we needed to own our supply. Hence the idea for the distillery.
How many bottles do you have in your own personal stock?
Sounds like you need to start drinking some… What bottle do you have open at the moment?
The trouble is, I’m always trying samples for selection. But yes, I love to have a dram or two regularly, too, just for pleasure. Currently I’m enjoying Redbreast 21-year-old, Ben Nevis 10-year-old, Michter’s 10-Year-Old Single Barrel Rye, Bowmore 2002 and Glen Garioch 1975.
Read the full results magazine.
French Wine Discoveries
London, UKAdd to Calendar
Flavours of New Zealand 2019
Etc Venues County Hall Belvedere Rd London SE1 7PBAdd to Calendar
Wine Paris 2019
Paris Expo Porte de Versailles - Halls 4 and 7.1 1 Place de la Porte de Versailles 75015 Paris - FranceAdd to Calendar
Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting 2019
Lindley Hall Everton Street London SW1P 2QWAdd to Calendar
- “As a start-up brand you focus hard on achieving credibility and creating awareness. Winning Gold Outstanding and the Mezcal Trophy provided us with a level of credibility and exposure that we simply could not have achieved on our own. The awards helped secure key listings in Harvery Nichols and Selfridges and certainly played a significant part in opening up dialogue with potential U.S importers and ultimately securing one. I thought hard about which competition to enter and what the return on that investment would be. I can say with absolute confidence that the IWSC was worth every penny.”David ShepherdFounder & Director, Corte Vetusto
- “IWSC is a very important competition to us in terms of showing consumers our quality. It's one of the competitions that we definitely enter on a yearly basis.”Ian ChangMaster Blender, Kavalan Distillery
- “Out of all of the awards, the IWSC is probably the most prestigious and most honest awards. You choose your judges very well and they're very good, honest, decent people. They do it for the love of the industry.”Sukhinder SinghMD, The Whisky Exchange
- “The IWSC is a very prestigious competition. The prestige is a great thing to be able to communicate to our customers who have great respect for it.”David PorterOperations & Buying, Lea & Sandeman
- “The IWSC represents everything, without a doubt. There's no better competition in the world where you can judge yourself not just against your countrymen but against the rest of the world.”Andy AndersonWinemaker, Takapoto Estate
- “Fantastic company and fantastic award . . . In the wine industry, having an award like this is such an accolade.”Claire GriffithsCommercial Director, Vina Cono Sur
- “It's one of the greatest international awards you can get. It's similar to an Oscar, if you like.”Lenz MoserWinemaker, Yantai Changyu Pioneer Company
- “Because of the number of international judges that are tasting the wines and the number of wines that are being entered, it’s a great privilege for us to receive this award. The history of the competition, the standing that it has amongst the international wine world and certainly amongst one’s peers, to be able to get an award at the IWSC means a lot. There are a lot of competitions around the world – this probably represents the top award you could get as a winemaker.”Gary & Kathy JordanWinemakers, Jordan Wine Estate
- “It’s a great honour to win especially as nowadays people are focusing on the quality not just the numbers, so it does mean a huge amount getting recognition from an institution as well sought after as the IWSC.”Chris BlandyOwner, Blandy's Wines
- “This will be a recognition that will help in building the brand further, and building its prestige around the world.”Victor FuentesDirector General, El Coto de Rioja S.A
- “The IWSC is a well renowned, well looked up to standard and a symbol of premium products so it’s a great achievement to win any award.”Andrea FreeboroughCellar Master, Nederburg Wines