When we first met Daryl Haldane, he was a brand ambassador for Edrington-owned, Orkney-based distillery Highland Park. Recently moved to the role of Head of Education for Highland Park’s slightly better known sister distillery The Macallan, Haldane today leads the internal, trade and consumer education for the renown brand, which includes developing tools and educational training materials, as well as driving and supporting The Macallan’s ambassadorial network around the world.
Oh, and he travels around the world talking to whisky geeks like us, so we catch him for a quick chat:
[Spirited Singapore] How was the change from being a Highland Park brand ambassador to Head of Education for The Macallan?
[Daryl Haldane] The change has been very natural. I am really enjoying the challenge. It has been a pleasure reacquainting myself with The Macallan.
[SS] What does your role as the Head of Education for The Macallan entails?
[DH] We have lots of exciting projects coming up next year and my job will be to make sure we bring to life the reality behind making the world’s most precious single malt. It is going to be great getting under the skin of such an iconic spirit with a remarkable story to tell.
[SS] What is the favourite part of your role?
[DH] Travelling and meeting whisky drinkers from around the world.
[SS] What is the future for The Macallan?
[DH] I think it’s a very exciting future. We have some great products coming to market. The Macallan Rare Cask Black is a good insight into some of the projects we have lined up.
[SS] Speaking of The Macallan Rare Cask Black, it’s a travel retail exclusive. How does The Macallan work with travel retail companies like DFS?
[DH] We have a great relationship. We work together to deliver exceptional products for DFS and its customers.
[SS] You recently attended Whisky Live in Singapore. What was your impression of that event, as well as the whisky scene in Singapore?
[DH] I am amazed at the number of female whisky drinkers. Ladies in Singapore obviously have great taste!
[SS] Based on your experience, how do you think the profile of whisky drinkers in Asia changed?
[DH] I believe the whisky drinker is younger and more adventurous. People in Singapore want to explore the category and learn a little along the way.
[SS] With Chinese New Year coming, how would you pair different types of Asian food with The Macallan whiskies?
[DH] The Macallan always has lovely fruit sweetness. I really like the single malt with some bold Chinese flavours but dishes like braised abalone does quite well with The Macallan as well. In general, intense, spicy and bold flavours will always work with The Macallan.
[SS] What makes for an excellent Chinese food and whisky pairing in terms of taste profile?
[DH] Chinese foods that I enjoy with The Macallan will be mainly sea food dishes and spicy hot pot. I love spicy hot pot with a tasty single malt. Rare Cask Black is perfect for this.
[SS] How do you pair whiskies with food?
[DH] Always look to food and understand what compliments and what contrasts the ingredients. For example, milk chocolate and The Macallan work because they are both sweet. But I prefer dark chocolate with The Macallan because I enjoy the contrast of bitter and sweet. So, if you enjoy a variety of flavours aim for a contrast: coffee, dark chocolate. If you enjoy less complex flavours stick to complimentary flavours such as fruits, vanilla etc.
[SS] If there was one particular The Macallan expression you would recommend a traveller to pick up from DFS to celebrate Chinese New Year with, what should that be and why?
[DH] The Macallan Masters of Photography Capsule Edition: Ernie Button Estate Reserve. This is a unique collaboration with acclaimed artist and photographer Ernie Button and the result is a beautiful pack for the Travel Retail Exclusive Estate Reserve. The whisky itself is perfect for celebration, being crafted from the very best sherry seasoned oak casks. The natural colour tells you that most of these casks will have been hand-made with Spanish Oak. This gives beautiful deep colour and layers of flavour suitable for the most important occasions.
The Macallan Rare Cask Black and The Macallan Masters of Photography Capsule Edition: Ernie Button Estate Reserve is available at DFS Changi Airport at a recommended selling price of S$656.10 and S$315.50 respectively.