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Issue 18 - The Life of Brian

Whisky Magazine Issue 18
September 2001

 

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The Life of Brian

John Lamond talks to the man behind The VIntage Malt Whisky Company, Brian Crook, who is making a big noise with a small, independent, company

In the sedate Glasgow suburb of Milngavie (pronounced mill-guy), there is a south-east facing corner office that overlooks the local shopping thoroughfare. It is from this quiet location that one of the brightest independent bottlers is making a very big noise in the whisky industry that can be heard all over the globe.

In a mere nine years, the Vintage Malt Whisky Company has exported more than £5 million worth of their malt whiskies to 15 countries – more than 95% of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company's brands are exported to the four corners of the world. They are particularly strong in France, Italy, Sweden and the US with the key to this export success being the appointment of very effective distributors with whom they can work to strengthen their brands.

Brian Crook is the man behind this remarkable whisky business yet initially his background was in food: he gained a degree in food science and initially worked for small food companies, latterly assuming a sales function for a Danish company. In 1978 he responded, more in hope than confidence, to an advertisement from the distilling company Eadie Cairns & Company Limited. They were seeking an Export Sales Manager and, within three weeks, he was on a plane bound for Livorno to collect a bad debt for the Auchentoshan Whisky Company. The next year was a hard slog for single malt sales personnel due to the fact that the vast bulk of whisky sales were of blended whiskies. Brian's toughest task during this time proved to be...

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