Meet The Macallan's Regional Brand Ambassador

Interview by Marc Almagro
Photos courtesy of The Macallan
21 Aug 2018

A minute with Mr. Keith Nair, Regional Brand Ambassador, The Macallan

Mr. Keith Nair is a lucky man for being the dedicated regional brand ambassador of The Macallan, which is clearly a dream job for anyone who loves whisky. But representing one of the most celebrated whisky brands comes with its own set of challenges, as well as preconceived notions. In this interview, we learn more about his role, how to properly enjoy the beverage, and if a whisky cocktail with green tea can make the cut.

What qualities do you share with The Macallan?
Since it was established in 1824, The Macallan has been known for qualitative passion in whisky making. An unwavering passion for my craft is my guiding principle when I host a big event or an intimate whisky tasting.

What qualifies you as a brand ambassador?
There is no specific ‘qualification’ to become a brand ambassador per se; however, in my opinion, nothing beats experience. Being the internal subject matter expert and external spokesperson for a luxury brand like The Macallan, category knowledge and industry know-how is paramount. Humility and the ability to connect with audiences from all walks of life, from a novice whisky enthusiast to a connoisseur, are also important. These help consumers enjoy the learning experience.

How should people be initiated into the pleasures of drinking whisky?
First off, do not let anyone tell you how you should enjoy your whisky. If it is your first time, I would suggest having a glass of water on the side. Take your time to nose the aromas and flavor notes at your own pace, and don’t worry about not being able to sniff out the ‘caramelized pears’ from the back of the pack – every individual has his own sensory library made out of memory. In other words, if you say treacle I say gula melaka.

When it comes to tasting, take a very small sip to coat your entire tongue, and literally chew the liquid until you salivate (yes, whisky between your teeth). The smaller sips you take, and the more times you chew, the more flavors you can access. Once get to know the flavors a little better, you will know whether it deserves a splash of water, ice, or just the inner curves of your glass.

Is a whisky cocktail, say Whisky with Green Tea, a legitimate drink or a form of heresy?
Depends what green tea and who’s making it! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cocktails; balancing your favorite ingredients is key as long as the base flavor (whisky) is still recognizable in your mix. In fact, the fresh citrus notes from The Macallan Triple Cask 12 Years Old, if balanced correctly, weave in nicely with the likes of Sencha or a dusting of Matcha.

Are you a ‘whisky despot’ who only tolerates certain forms of enjoying whisky?
The best way to drink whisky is any way you like it. I wouldn’t say that I am a staunch ‘go neat or go home’ kind of person, but I like to nose a new whisky neat. If the alcohol seems too sharp on the nose, I cut it with a bit of water, and then comes the tasting. After tasting it, I will know my preferred drinking style. In this part of the world whisky on the rocks is refreshing considering the tropical weather; in not so sunny Scotland (sometimes) having it neat is more satisfying.