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Whisky grading could boost tourism

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  January 28, 2012 | 0 Comments
A rating system for Scotch whiskey is being tested

A rating system for Scotch whiskey is being tested

A Michelin-style grading system in bars serving Scotch whisky could be introduced in the future.

The star scheme would recognise bars in Scotland where staff had been trained to explain the difference between whisky brands and make recommendations.

The Whisky Ambassador is the idea of Victor Brierley, who runs popular Glasgow Whisky Tours, and will provide courses so staff can provide guidance to visiting tourists.

Mr Brierley said: ‘There are some excellent whisky bars and a lot of knowledge in some places, but many bar staff even in high-end bars and hotels don’t know what they are talking about.

“Premises will have sommeliers who can talk about champagne and red or white wine until it’s coming out of their ears, but shockingly, they often don’t know the first thing about whisky, our national drink.

“Recent VisitScotland research has indicated that the bar trade in Scotland could be doing better and of course, knowledge is power. We’re giving them this knowledge.”

Mr Brierley said Scotch whisky is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of alcoholic luxuries, and said the country should not be ‘under-selling’ it.

He added: “Bar staff should be able to talk about what whisky is, the colour, the age, the peatiness, the sweetness, and how it has come to find its way into bars all over the world.”

The scheme has a broader tourism role, as the trained-up staff will also be able to tell tourists where to find the nearest distilleries on their travels round Scotland. There is one distillery in the Borders – the Glenkinchie Distillery in Tranent.

The scheme is being piloted in Glasgow with staff from the Grand Central and Radisson Blu hotels, who will become the first to receive the ‘whisky ambassador’ status.

VisitScotland is backing the project to provide a boost for the tourism, whisky and hospitality industries.

Stella Callaghan, project manager of the Glasgow Tourism Service Initiative at VisitScotland, said: “Glasgow Service with Style applauds the innovative approach being taken by Victor Brierley in his creation of the Whisky Ambassador training scheme.

“We wish them all the best with this venture that aims to raise the standards of service being offered to Scotland’s visitors and helps instil pride in those who are promoting one of Scotland’s best-known products.”

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