Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Lifetime Achievement Awards”February 27th, 2011
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.
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.
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!