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Issue 79 - Power to the people

Whisky Magazine Issue 79
April 2009

 

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Power to the people

In the latest of our series celebrating some of whisky's lesser known personalities, Dominic Roskrow catches up with David Wood, owner of The Wine Shop in Leek,Staffordshire.

When David Wood and his wife Leonie took over The Wine Shop in Leek, Staffordshire, and decided to get serious about whisky six years ago, they did it by unleashing their best weapon:people power.

The shop had, unsurprisingly given its name, a strong reputation for quality wine. But it was an intimidating and traditional sort of place and although it offered whisky, it had a limited selection occupying the higher shelves beyond the reach of the customer.

So while Leonie focused on the wine business David instigated a revolution. Just 32 years old at the time, he had been bitten by the whisky bug and was convinced that if others underwent the experience he had had, they would be too.

”I had been working for a wine specialist chain and had been asked to increases sales of malt whisky,”he says.“I started doing tastings and got to taste a lot of whiskies. And then when we started with this business I started visiting distilleries, specifically those on Islay, and once I'd been there I was hooked. It's a tactic we went on to use here by taking groups of customers to Islay.” Involving the customers didn't end there.

David increased the choice of whisky from around 20 different bottles to a few hundred. Then he set about demystifying them.

“In the old days The Wine Shop was a fairly intimidating place, the sort where you felt you needed to know a great deal before you even went in. We wanted to change that. We moved the whiskies from behind the counter so people could...

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