I’m writing this on Mandela Day, which is commemorated in South Africa by people doing 67 minutes of service to the broader community – doing something for others. Why 67 minutes? One minute for each year Madiba devoted to public service. Today, sacrifice and service are on our minds.
The whisky world has many people who have dedicated their lives to the industry, and to us, the whisky lovers of the world. David Stewart is one of them. Think about a 12-year long apprenticeship. Mr Stewart served the whisky world with a dedication rarely seen in this fast-paced world, with the desire for instant gratification and accelerated learning programs. The world is in a hurry. It doesn’t want to wait. It wants answers and results, and it wants them now. Perhaps we need to sit back and think for a while, be a bit more patient, let the whisky mature for a while. Let’s face it: if it wasn’t for people like David Stewart, his patience and dedication to the craft, much of what is now part of the wonderful world of whisky simply wouldn’t be around for us to enjoy.
Making whisky in the colder climates is much like people planting trees – not for this generation, but for the next. People producing whisky will often only taste the fruits of their labour, sometimes 15, 30 or 50 years after they have distilled the liquids and laid down the casks. Today, while we do something for others, think about what others have done for us.
Different expressions of The Balvenie feature on the whisky shelves of many whisky lovers in the world. Mr Stewart’s legacy continues with every expression of the Balvenie. Tonight, I’m going to raise a glass of The Balvenie and toast two people who, in different ways, for very different goals, in very different circumstances, with very different sacrifices, understood service and sacrifice and allowed us to benefit from what they did, for us.
THE BALVENIE’S DAVID STEWART HONOURED BY HER ROYAL MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE SCOTCH WHISKY INDUSTRY
The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart, was recently recognized in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for services to the Scotch whisky industry. On the 5th of July 2016, Queen Elizabeth II handed over the accolade to David Steward in a ceremony at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland.
After nearly 54 years in the industry, David’s pioneering techniques have had a profound impact on the production of Scotch whisky used today. He is renowned for his groundbreaking workparticularly around ‘cask finishes’ for The Balvenie and has developed a number of award winning whiskies enjoyed and loved by whisky enthusiasts all over the world. He is one of only 12 malt masters in the Scotch whisky industry, a small band of master craftsmen who have perfected the art, alchemy and scientific understanding in making whisky and he is the longest-serving of them all.
Lauren Kuhlmey, Marketing Manager of The Balvenie South Africa stated, “David’s innovative approach and total dedication to his craft, coupled with his modest, unassuming manner have made him one of the best loved and respected craftsmen in the business. This is testament to the fact that David is one of the greatest master blenders of a generation, not that he would ever admit it himself.”
David will also be honoured with a beautiful book of congratulations, carefully designed in the style of an original whisky store register. Over the coming months, pages from the book will travel across the globe, gathering well wishes and messages of congratulations from whisky enthusiasts and The Balvenie drinkers, before returning to Scotland to be bound and presented to David.
Whisky enthusiasts around the world raised a toast at 19:45 on 5 July 2016 (the year David was born) paying tribute to his achievement. A nod to modern times was the use of the hashtag #RaiseADram.
David Stewart started work at The Balvenie distillery in 1962 at the age of just 17. During a 12-year apprenticeship, he mastered the skills of nosing and creating the best quality single malt Scotch whisky. David was then appointed The Balvenie Malt Master and has held that position ever since, making him the most experienced malt master in the industry.
About The Balvenie:
- The Balvenie is a unique range of single malts created by David Stewart, The Balvenie Malt Master, who celebrates his 53rd year at the distillery in 2015. Each has a very individual taste, but each is rich, luxuriously smooth and underpinned by the distinctively honeyed character of The Balvenie.
- The Balvenie is dedicated to the five rare crafts that are used to create The Balvenie’s distinctive taste. It is the only distillery that still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings and keeps both coppersmiths and coopers on site – making The Balvenie the most handcrafted of malts.
- The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced by William Grant & Sons Ltd, an award-winning independent family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 and today run by his direct descendants.