Whisky Advocate

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Lifetime Achievement Awards”

February 27th, 2011

Evan Cattanach

Evan Cattanach has spent over 40 years of his life in the Scotch whisky industry, all the more impressive since he got a relatively late start at the age of 25. He has worked at fifteen different distilleries, in four of the six Scottish whisky areas, including managing operations at Oban, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Dalwhinnie, and Cragganmore. In 1985, he was involved in the selection of distilleries for the Classic Malts series, a project he has been associated with ever since.

That’s where master distiller emeritus Cattanach, proud Scotsman Cattanach, and flamboyantly personable Cattanach has made his mark with the public. That same year, he became the first master distiller to walk outside the distillery as a brand ambassador, beginning a whirlwind of travel that has not slowed down, despite his having “retired” in 1993.

Today Evan Cattanach — the retired fellow! — continues to represent the Classic Malts around the world, leading tastings in 200 cities, celebrating Burns Day with whisky fans, and regularly presenting a popular seminar at WhiskyFest. He’s even raising a 6 year old son! We celebrate Evan Cattanach’s lifetime of whisky achievement, which continues today.

Fritz Maytag

In a life that looked headed for the contemplation of Asian culture, Fritz Maytag took a sharp turn when he learned that the Anchor brewery was about to go out of business. He enjoyed their beer, and decided that since he could save it, he would. Maytag’s action would not only save Anchor and re-establish several types of beer that had vanished from America, it also led directly to the craft beer revolution.

Amazingly, it also led to the craft distilling explosion and the resurgence of rye whiskey. By the early 1990s, when Maytag developed an interest in making his Old Potrero rye whiskey, Anchor’s reputation lent substantial gravitas to his distilling. There was none of the confusion and ridicule that greeted many early brewing attempts; this was Fritz Maytag. This was Anchor. This thing must be serious.

Indeed it was, and it was good, too. Fritz Maytag had helped to jump-start a second craft industry, an amazing record of achievement. We honor his courage and determination.

Angelo Lucchesi

The very first salesman for Jack Daniel’s? That’s right, and Angelo Lucchesi just celebrated his 90th birthday. He started selling Jack Daniel’s in 1953, and put the black label brand on the map, dragging the rest of American whiskey right along with it.

Lucchesi’s powerfully positive personality made him effective on the personal level where whiskey sales work best. “Belly to belly marketing,” he called it; making friends for the whiskey by making friends with consumers and retailers. One of his greatest coups was fielding a call from Frank Sinatra, who couldn’t get a steady supply of Jack. Problem solved, and soon Jack Daniel’s was The Drink of The Rat Pack.

Though he’s retired, he still speaks to people around the world about the brand; a true ambassador and an icon in brand development — one belly at a time. It’s been said that Malt Advocate and WhiskyFest made rock stars out of master distillers; the people who make the whiskey. Angelo Lucchesi proves that you can’t make whiskey unless you make friends and sell it. Cheers!

And last, but not least, tomorrow ‘s post will conclude the 17th Annual Malt Advocate Whisky Award announcements: our “Top Ten Whiskies” for the past year. Enjoy!

6 Responses to “Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Lifetime Achievement Awards””

  1. two-bit cowboy says:

    Terrific cast of “characters” this year, John. Your short blurbs about each one left me wanting to know more. Fritz’s story is ever interesting.

  2. Great choices. I have had a chance on 2 occasions to sit in on seminars at WhiskyFest lead by Evan Cattanach that were very entertaining and informative. I also just had some of Fritz and Ken’s Ale, celebrating Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary & it was amazing!

  3. Red_Arremer says:

    I saw Evan Cattanach present the Classic Malts at Federal Wine and Spirits in Boston, Last year. What a night! He’s very entertaining. I’d never tasted Talisker 30, but that stuff is great. I picked some right up.

  4. sam k says:

    Evan and Fritz were legendary well before their awards, but including Angelo Lucchesi is inspired and inspiring. I’d never heard of him before, and his write-up makes me want to know more. Kudos to all three, but especially to Mr. Luchessi…way to go, Angelo!

  5. Joshie says:

    Excellent choices! If anyone fits the definition of a pioneer, it’s Fritz Maytag. He set a pattern still being followed all over the country, e.g. my state’s own New Holland Brewery/Distillery.

  6. Frank Costello says:

    Congradulations Angelo. I am so pleased to have met you at the JD chilli cook off. Ralph sent me the wonderful article about you and your JD association. Our very best to you and your family. Be well . Warm regards…Frank and Carol Costello

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