They Pour: Whiskey Ambassadors

Pop Culture
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/PvOberstein

His back hurts. But he must pour.

Her feet hurt. But she must pour.

He’s been on the road for 100 straight days, introducing his company’s line of whiskies to big liquor stores, small bars, and to the occasional media member who smiles and listens to the technical aspects of making whiskey, but Johnny Journalist is just there for the free whiskey. Johnny may not write about it, and the whiskey brand ambassador missed Facetiming with his son to pour his brand.

She’s in her third city in four days and spends more time showing men that yes, a young woman actually knows more about whiskey than the 60-year-old arthritic bartender who has been mindlessly pouring bourbon at the country club. But she pours. She’s the whiskey brand ambassador and corporate is considering her for a larger role. She’s going places, so she pours.

He’s in his mid-40s and loves the whiskey history, the taste, the agricultural connection, and the consumers. He especially loves pouring for new consumers at whiskey events, but he hates the loads of shit marketers force down his throat. When he first took the job as whiskey brand ambassador, he fought the higher ups when it came to dumb ideas. Now, he just falls in line. He hates it, but he pours and sells whatever he’s told to sell.

She’s in her early 30s, worked her way up from the back bar to regional award-winning bartender to high-level whiskey aficionado. From the moment she took this whiskey brand ambassador job, she’s heard the quiet sexual jeers, but she’s strong and pours. One day, she’ll be the CEO. She pours.

They work tirelessly, pouring, educating, selling, setting up deals and doing everything to promote their brands. In time, their bosses will take other executive positions, their brands placed on the selling block and budgets slashed. They pour.

Their new companies come up with a new product, give it a colorful backstory and don’t offer much technical information. They pour.

The market has shifted, and distilleries find a new consumer group that likes flavored whiskey.

He’s pushing 50.

She’s in her mid-30s now.

They are among the greatest whiskey palates in the world, having learned how to distill in Scotland, build barrels in Kentucky, and select the optimal rye in Canada. Now, flavored whiskey? Where’s the unique craft to flavored whiskey?

They tell their friends they hate flavored whiskey, that they don’t enjoy selling it, but offer journalists and consumers sentiment that flavored whiskey brings in new consumers.

They pour.

Their job is thankless.

Consumers want their allocated products. Bartenders want their allocated products. Their Facebook friends want their allocated products. But not even they, the whiskey ambassadors, receive allocated products.

Their job is thankless.

When they speak to larger groups or trade shows, people video, quote, and tag them in photos. Every word can and will be used against them if the product changes.

Their job is thankless.

They’re traveling 75 percent of the year, living out of suitcases, standing in airport lines, and eating to-go wax paper-wrapped food.

Their job is thankless.

The hotel room is nice. But it’s not home.

He calls his boy.

She calls her fiancé. 

They’ve both sacrificed so much for whiskey, missing family dinners, dance recitals, anniversaries, birthdays, and sometimes, funerals. But they love their job. No, they love their career.

They’ve become experts at maneuvering customs of 20 countries and understand the complicated union policies for setting up booths in every respective whiskey city. They’re shipping experts, using a shipping container’s worth of bubble wrap in a year, and must budget for the ever-increasing drayage fees.

The job is hard, and you must be smart, but it comes with perks. It’s not unordinary for the whiskey ambassador to pour whiskey for presidents, celebrities or the ultra-rich on fancy jet planes and yachts.

Despite these perks, many have come and gone, leaving for less stressful positions or those with less travel. But those who stay love the process.

They love that moment they meet you, the consumer, to introduce you to a beautiful single malt, rye, bourbon, Asian, or Canadian whiskey. They love the twinkle in a bartender’s eye when they, the whiskey ambassador, give them the historical fact that made their day, perhaps their career and encouraged them to become a future whiskey brand ambassador.

Their job is not thankless.

They are the faces of whiskey, ranging from mid-20-year-olds to those in their early 70s, and are not just salesmen, educators, or aficionados. They are whiskey brand ambassadors.

It’s their pleasure to pour.

To pour for you.

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