A north-east whisky expert has been named as the first tutor in the north-east of Scotland accredited by a leading industry body.
Mike Stuart – director of the Inverurie Whisky Shop and manager at the town’s Black Bull Inn – has been awarded the honour by the Whisky Ambassador, a global initiative designed to set standards of best practice across the licensed trade.
Mike is one of only a select band of tutors (fewer than ten) 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.
Mike, who also holds a diploma in Scotch malt whisky from the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, 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 the Inverurie Whisky Shop. The exam is then marked at a central location before a certificate is awarded to each successful delegate.
Mike said: “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.
“Through this Whisky Ambassador accreditation, it 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.”
Mike’s expertise is not only limited to those working in the licensed trade. The company organises corporate events, team-building days, private tasting events and tours of distilleries across the country.
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.
He added: “We offer a relaxed tasting environment suitable for any budget or level of knowledge, while our distillery tour days are particularly popular with those visiting the region and looking to learn, visit and, of course, sample our fantastic Aberdeenshire spirit.”