Robin origianlly worked as a magazine journalist; first in television, sport, music. (He is probably the only whisky bottler to have been driven through London in Rod Stewart’s car – with Rod Stewart driving – or to have met and interviewed Abba; then moving on to the trade drinks publication, Drinks International. Robin later moved into drinks PR in UK (including Macallan) before founding his own drinks based specialist PR company.
Founded the Master of Malt and Malt Whisky Association in 1988. Left Master of Malt 1995 to establish Blackadder International.
Created and developed the Blackadder Raw Cask range which was introduced in the year 2000.
Robin also established and runs the following specialist single cask whisky brands all of which, like Blackadder, are non chill-filtered and bottled without caramel Colouring or flavouring:
- Smoking Islay
- Peat Reek
- The Clydesdale Original
- Aberdeen Distillers
- The Old Man of Hoy
- A Drop of the Irish
- Black Snake
- Red Snake
Robin is co-author of The Malt Whisky File together with John Lamond.
After a career as a chef, working at top restaurants in London, a serious accident in 2013 – I was knocked off a scooter by a drunk driver while on holiday in Turkey – left me hospitalised for six weeks and with a body full of metal. As I recovered, I found I was unable to stand for long periods and no longer had the dexterity in my hands and wrists needed in a professional kitchen, so in 2014 I made the decision to hang up my apron and throw myself into the wonderful world of Blackadder.
I feel there must be some irony in that somewhere! Not to mention my father was around the same age as me when he began his whisky journey.
As you can imagine, I grew up around whisky and since my late teens I’ve enjoyed the odd dram! Since joining the company, I have taken a keen interest in the process and history of distillation and the magic that occurs between spirit and cask.
I think that all my years of working in kitchens and the aromas and flavours I’ve experienced in doing so have given me a keen sense for nosing and tasting whiskies. However, I like to keep things simple. I don’t make fanciful, long-winded tasting notes; instead, I try to encapsulate nose, taste and finish as concisely as possible – nothing more, nothing less.
Our sense of smell is the most direct sense to our brain and also our most complex. It’s proven that once you go over three aroma compounds mixed together, everything is subjective and becomes very personal.
Every aroma can evoke a different memory in each of us and we build up our aroma library as we grow. By not being afraid to say what we sense and share it, we can all learn something from each other.
My main belief is that whisky is subjective and, ultimately, if you enjoy what you are experiencing, you are having a dram good day!
Looking forward to the future.
I started working for the family business before I even knew what whisky was.
I can remember helping my parents at home when I was young, organising our stock of whisky and packing samples. I have memories of whisky everywhere in our house. Of course, I never touched a dram. Let’s just say it took a while for me to appreciate whisky. Growing up, I always hated the smell of it – I think it seeped out of the walls of our house! And I can’t say my opinion changed when I finally tasted it for the first time.
I can remember the moment that changed, though. My father gave me a 30yo Glen Ord and that was it… I was hooked. The complexity of the spirit, the richness, yet so smooth… from then on I began to really appreciate whisky. Of course, my father was very amused that it was an expensive whisky that I liked!
My taste buds have since evolved and I enjoy all types of whisky but I’ll admit, I’ve been very spoilt working for Blackadder and getting to sample – and appreciate – a lot of extremely good whisky that has not been chill or otherwise heavily filtered. It’s just pure, unadulterated spirit at its best.
From my early days working for the business for pocket money, I then helped out on a part-time basis doing general admin and my role has gone on from there. I guess you could say that I keep the Blackadder wheels turning… my father and brother joke that I am the one that’s really in charge! I certainly organise them both – but then someone has to.