While the role of “brand ambassador” may seem like a lofty position to hold with its booze-oriented travel demands and social perks, it is definitely no walk in the park. This is especially true when you are an ambassador for the biggest single malt whisky brand in the world, Glenfiddich. Nonetheless, Allan Roth was up for the challenge. Prior to his life in the beverage industry, Allan went to Yale University for his undergraduate studies, and was enrolled in the “Teach for America” program shortly after - this was all before going on to Columbia University to finish his education in Political Science…or so he thought.
Just as he was on the cusp of wrapping up his dissertation, he decided, since he spent more time learning about food and whisky than Political Science, he should explore this undying passion of his. As most brand ambassadors have, he tended bar for a few years - laying down the foundation for what had yet to come. Eventually, while as a bar manager, Allan discovered that he enjoyed teaching classes on whiskey (at the whiskey bar where he worked). He realized that sharing knowledge on a subject that he was passionate about with others that were just as passionate, and willing to engage, was something that he genuinely loved to do.
Using his background in education, as well as his experiences in the beverage industry, he found himself in the coveted role of brand ambassador for Glenfiddich. Having been in the role for a few years now, Allan has taught countless classes, led tastings, and has put on all sorts of whisk(e)y-filled events for the passionate consumers of the world renown single-malt scotch whisky that is Glenfiddich. Now that he has been semi-properly introduced, let’s hear a bit more about his life as a brand ambassador, where some of his favorite spots to drink are, and other fun Allan Roth-worthy facts.
What is your current role with Glenfiddich?
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I have competed in an online, invite-only, head-to-head, honor-system trivia league for the past 10 years. That might just be a regular fact, though.
How did you end up where you are right now (the abridged version)?
I assiduously avoided writing my political science dissertation at Columbia by drinking and learning about whisky and classic cocktails. It was only a matter of time before I decided to jump head first into the industry. Thankfully, my previous lives as a teacher and researcher came into handy in the whisky world!
What do you find is the most difficult part of your job / role at Glenfiddich?
This kind of work is such a privilege – the community that you’re a part of the, the incredible liquid that you get to drink – that I can’t say I have any real complaints. I will, however, say that spending so many evenings and weekends away from home can be a challenge.
When educating others about the brand, what do you like talking about the most? (i.e. Brand's history, the production, or even just a fun fact..)
All of the subject matter at hand is fascinating for me. I’m as interested in talking about the quality of Glenfiddich’s new make spirit as I am about the legacy of William Grant and his family. What I like doing most is seeing what content will help me unlock joy for the Scotch whisky category for the people I’m speaking with. That’s the most exciting part!
For aspiring brand ambassadors, what piece(s) of advice would you give to them?
Invest time in tasting and reading. Learn from as many ambassadors and experts as you can to see how they do it. Never speak ill of others or other spirits producers – nothing good will come from it.
If you could go back in time and give old Allan any piece of advice, what would it be and when?
There’s a great future in whisky. Think about it.
What has been your favorite experience thus far as a brand ambassador for Glenfiddich?
Time at the distillery is incredibly special as my friendships with the men and women who make Glenfiddich become stronger and stronger. Back here in the US there are so many to choose from – most recent was a great panel I did with NYC Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin where we talked about Glenfiddich and ballet. It was amazing to see how many parallels there were. It was a blast!
What's your favorite Glenfiddich dram?
I love them all, but tonight I’ll be pouring myself a dram of the Glenfiddich 18 Year Small Batch Reserve
What is one cocktail trend that you wish would die in 2018?
Anything that can be done, can be done well. That being said, I’ve never had an old fashioned with muddled fruit that I enjoyed.
What is your go to cocktail at a cocktail bar?
Glenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve Old Fashioned. It has beautiful notes of vanilla and brown sugar complemented by the complexity of a well-aged Glenfiddich.
How about a dive bar?
Glenfiddich 12 Year, rocks.
Speaking of bars, what's your top 3 to get a drink in NYC?
What's the next NYC bar on your list to get to that you haven't been yet, why?
I need to get myself to Manhatta. Awe inspiring views plus Danny Meyer level service. Yes, please.
Best cocktail you've ever had?
Glenfiddich 40 Year. Neat.
Your favorite Bon Vivantito cocktail?
The Stag’s Smokin’ Highball of course! The inclusion of the grapefruit crema really brings out citrus undertones in the Glenfidich Fire & Cane and serves as a beautiful complement to the peat smoke as well.