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Issue 111 - The Mission & Message

Whisky Magazine Issue 111
April 2013

 

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The Mission & Message

Meet the man who moved from history to marketing expert

This statement, the quote opposite, fits Nick Morgan like a glove. At Lancaster University he developed a passion for history. After graduating he studied for a PhD and subsequently moved to the University of Glasgow to teach modern Scottish History. In 1990 the whisky world called and he joined United Distillers (UD), one of the forerunners of Diageo. At the annual Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival, he tells me about his two passions, whisky and music. “A friend recommended me to UD for the post of archivist. The company was still recovering from the trauma resulting from the Guinness takeover. Ian Ross, the grandson of UD's great architect William Ross, was still in the business, and he recognised that between 1987 and 1990 the company had gone through a huge identity crisis, losing not only physical memories but also corporate ones.

So part of our role was to remind people where the company, and its brands, had actually come from.” Early on Nick and his team were primarily busy with stocking the old Cabbies' warehouse in Leith. “We filled two and a half storeys with archives pulled from everywhere. Initially that was not easy, because colleagues feared we were ‘asset strippers', treating us with suspicion.” Morgan and his team only wanted to document the rich history and capture it for posterity. “The damp warehouse was not ideal and we moved to a new facility adjacent to our bottling plant in Leven. Later the archive relocated to UD's research centre in Menstrie...

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