A TALK WITH TIM ETHERINGTON-JUDGE FROM AMERICA WHISKEY

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• Introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Tim Etherington-Judge and I am the Global Brand Ambassador for Emerging Markets and Bulleit American Whiskey. Part time cyclist, full time vegetarian, coffee lover and Manchester United support. Cycling 5,000 miles this year to raise money for charity.

• How did you get into the mixology/ luxury spirits industry My mother passed away in 2005 and her best piece of advice to me was to always follow my dreams. After her death I chased my dreams and moved to New Zealand to become a mixologist. After a few months touring around New Zealand, I landed a job in a flair cocktail bar in a casino. It is where I learnt the essentials of being a good mixologist: hardwork, dedication, always wear a smile and do whatever you can for your customers. After a few months I was encouraged to enter a cocktail competition and to my surprise won my first competition and went on to represent New Zealand at the Cocktail World Cup in 2007. The rest is history.

• What is your favourite part of your job?

I love travelling to new places, meeting new and inspiring people, and most of all, I love being able to share my knowledge with others. I believe that mentorship is an important aspect of my job, and any day I get to teach someone something new is a great day for me. • Where have you travelled to as part of your role as Global Brand Ambassador? I have visited 45 countries to date, tho not enough of Africa! Highlights include Nigeria, obviously, Iceland, Taiwan, South Africa and Kenya.

• What are your thoughts on Africa’s growth into a luxury destination?

I have worked closely with the luxury industry in Africa for the past 2 years and I have witnessed the huge growth that has arrived in that time. There is a huge thirst for luxury brands within Africa at the moment and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.

• What experiences have you had within the Nigerian market?

We know that you recently hosted several mentorship sessions around the CNBC Africa All African Business Leaders Awards Presented By Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Tell us more about this? I have visited Lagos a number of times in the past 2 years and love it every time I come. There is such energy about the city, and the parties go on all night long. The mentoring session for the nominees at the AABLA’s was a very special event indeed. We sampled a bottle of the incredibly rare John Walker & Son’s Private Collection 2014, of which only 8,888 bottles have been produced. It’s an incredible blended Scotch whisky and I took the guests through the history of Johnnie Walker, the production process of this very special whisky and finally a step by step tasting. There are only 120 bottles coming to Nigeria so it was only fitting that the first tasting went to Nigeria’s recognised business leaders.

• Have you had any unique/ exceptional experiences in terms of luxury mixology in Africa/ Nigeria?

When we launched Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve in Lagos last year we created a special cocktail for the event, which included edible gold in the drink! That was the first time I have used gold in a cocktail and it was undoubtedly one of the talking points of the night.

• Where is your favourite outlet in Nigeria to enjoy a luxury cocktail?

There seem to be new places every time I visit Lagos! I always enjoy a bottle of CÎROC or Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve at Rhapsody’s and love the cocktails at the Intercontinental Hotel.

• How do you think that the Nigerian luxury mixology market is unique?

The mixology scene in Nigeria is currently in its infancy so there is still a long way to go before we see any unique characteristics that set it apart from other countries.

• How do you envision the future of the African luxury spirits and mixology market?

I see a bright future. Nigerian’s love to celebrate and alcohol has always been a part of celebrating in Nigeria. I am one of the first Brand Ambassador’s to spend significant amounts of time training bartenders in Nigeria and Diageo is committed to increasing the training that bartenders receive to ensure that the quality of fine drinking and cocktails in Nigeria continues to improve. Wealthy Nigerians are incredibly well travelled and regularly experience great luxury cocktails when they are in international cities such as London, New York or Singapore and they bring stories and memories of these experiences back to Nigeria with them. It’s only a matter of time before Nigeria has a serious mixology scene.

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