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Adventurously Supporting the Creative Arts

Beth-Anne Thomas, National Brand Manager, Glenfiddich
Gil Haddi
April 3rd, 2014
In speaking with Beth-Anne Thomas, the National Brand Manager for Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch in Canada, she gave me some background on how the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize, an award that fosters and promotes creativity and adventure, ties into the "pioneering spirit" of Glenfiddich:

"The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize were the inspiration of our founder's great-great-grandson, Peter Gordon. He saw the need to emphasize the arts and support emerging and pioneering artists from around the world. For the past 12 years, Glenfiddich has been inviting artists from all around the world to the distillery to see how the whisky is made and to get a feel for the ambiance surrounding the whisky's production. Staying in residence at the distillery in little cottages over the summer, the artists can draw inspiration from the setting, the people, the oak casks or whatever details inspire them and help them further their artwork. This is the 10th year the contest has been held in Canada and we've seen the largest number of submissions we've ever had-roughly 200 applicants from across the country. Around 100 people showed up at The Spoke Club where everyone had the opportunity to preview the winning Artists artwork and enjoy delicious Glenfiddich cocktails. The rules were broken this year as this is the first time there has been dual winners from Canada. We felt the collaborative work between Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky truly represented the pioneering spirit of Glenfiddich. We cannot wait to host them at the Glenfiddich distillery and we look forward to having them return to Canada and share what they have created."

Questions with Beth-Anne Thomas:

1. How does the team at Glenfiddich continue to come up with innovative ideas?

All the ideas we come up with tie back to the main question, "Does it reflect the “pioneering spirit and family run positioning” of Glenfiddich?" From the first day of production in 1887 to this very day, we at Glenfiddich strive to create the best possible and highest quality single malt in the world. We have had much success in innovation in creating the 15 Year Old Solera Reserve, employing the Solera process -- the first of its kind at the time. Our unique process, where the Solera vat is never emptied more than halfway, ensures consistency in quality and continues the Glenfiddich tradition of being a gold medal winner year after year.

Brand managers like myself come up with creative ideas all the time. A great example of creativity is the Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams. In 2012, we rolled oak casks throughout Canada and had people sign their names and write their dreams on the barrels. They could then buy the whisky that was made in the cask with their name on it, creating a personal connection with the amazing product.

In 2010, a couple of the roofs collapsed at the Glenfiddich warehouse in Scotland and all the whisky barrels were exposed to the ice and snow. Instead of giving up, our innovative and pioneering Malt Master Brian Kinsman decided to try the whiskies and it turned out that being exposed to the cold gave the whisky a unique flavor that was excellent. Being pioneers led to the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix limited-edition variant which was released in select markets around the world.

Glenfiddich also has some great partnerships such as our partnership with the Wounded Warriors Canada, a military-based charity in Canada, which leads groundbreaking work with the Canadian Armed Forces, focusing on mental health and PTSD treatment. In 2012, we had one of only 11 rare bottles in Canada and wanted to auction it off with the proceeds going to a charity that had the same family focus and pioneering spirit that represents Glenfiddich, Wounded Warriors Canada were, and still are, the perfect partner. The bottle-Glenfiddich 55YO Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve- sold for $52 000, breaking the Canadian record for the most expensive spirit sold to date.

2. How do you create a culture of innovation?

Creating a culture of innovation is twofold for us. First, innovation needs to be ingrained in the company DNA.Secondly, we need to ensure we bring on people who share those same innovative spirit and pioneering values. We are in the 127th year of operation for Glenfiddich, and we were founded in 1887 by William Grant. We are still family-owned and operated which gives us the freedom and autonomy to be experimental and innovative We are always looking for opportunity in the face of challenges and by looking for ways to do things differently, we can be truly game changing.

We don't ever look at barriers as challenges. Rather, we think of them as opportunities to think more creatively and differently. Prioritizing and making time in the day for all of our passion projects can be challenging, but in the end, it's about elevating the brand and doing what's best for the consumer. I am also proud to say that I work for the world’s number one selling and most awarded single malt scotch, Glenfiddichand to work for a family run company that takes pride in all that they do.
References: linkedin, glenfiddich