A north-east whisky expert has been named the first tutor in the region after being accredited by a leading industry body.
Mike Stuart, who is the director of the Inverurie Whisky Shop and manager of the Black Bull Inn, was awarded the honour by the Whisky Ambassador – a global initiative designed to set standards of best practice across the licensed trade.
He is one of only a select band of tutors (less than 10) across the UK to have received the endorsement. It means he can deliver specialist training to bar, hotel and restaurant staff who are seeking a comprehensive grasp of the national drink.
Also boasting a diploma in Scotch malt whisky from the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, Mike is now offering group and individual bookings for between four and 20 people to sit the course at licensed premises across the north-east.
As an official Whisky Ambassador accredited venue, training can also be held at his whisky shop premises. The exam is then marked at a central location before a certificate is awarded to each successful student.
He said: “I’ve always been passionate about educating people about all things whisky-related so that they can fully appreciate the product. Too often you hear tales of visitors from overseas – whether it’s China or the USA – having a broader knowledge of whisky than those tasked with serving a dram in our own pubs and restaurants.
“Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence, but I feel we don’t push this tremendous product enough as a nation. While there are organisations doing a lot of positive work, there remains a huge opportunity to capitalise on tourism and revenue generating opportunities through better promotion of whisky.
“This Whisky Ambassador accreditation will hopefully allow me to develop that knowledge base and skill set at a local level and help promote the fantastic distilleries we have on our doorstep.”
The courses are built around the needs of the learner and tailored to their level of knowledge. Each course gives students the knowledge, skills and confidence to talk to customers about whisky and make recommendations.
Everything from the history of whisky and effective placement at the bar to tasting and nosing sessions are covered as part of the one-day course and exam.
He is also exploring becoming an accredited gin instructor to raise awareness around the range of spirits produced in the north-east and support this growing market.
For more information on the training call 01467 622412 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.