One for the road: Chivas expert shares knowledge in Marianas
By Maureen N. Maratita
It took redundancy to bring Darren Hosie to a company that seems perfectly suited to
his background and desire to travel.
Originally from Glasgow, Hosie is regional mentoring manager for Chivas Brothers for the Asia Pacific region. He educates on production and conducts various nosing and tasting events.
Hosie joined Chivas in 2007.
Coming from a family of whisky lovers, Hosie says, “I’ve always been a whisky drinker. … I wanted to drink something with a lot of flavor. For me personally, I didn’t see the benefit of drinking alcopops.”
After a redundancy, Hosie says, “I sat down and thought, ‘What do I actually like doing?’ I wanted to work for a whisky company.”
The fame of whisky has stretched beyond Scotland, he says. “There used to be the view that whisky was a very local product. But it’s only when you travel — and I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled all over the world — and … in almost every country you find Scotch whisky.
“It gives you a clear understanding what it actually means to Scotland and the economy and the number of jobs that actually depend on Scotch whisky.”
According to the Scotch Whisky Association, 2013 industry exports were steady at £4.3 billion (US $7.34 billion), with whisky generating 85% of Scottish food and drink exports.
A lot of Hosie’s time is spent educating front-line staff on Chivas products, so they can advise customers on what they might enjoy. “It’s giving people information.”
While whisky is popular throughout the world, Hosie says, “Everyone enjoys it in different ways.”
Hosie adds some water to his Scotch. “It takes a bit of the spiciness and the sharpness of the alcohol [out]. However, living in Hong Kong, and now I’m in Guam, if I have a drink later on, I might have it on the rocks. That then cools down your whisky and then you get the flavor; ice attracts spirit.”
There are several factors in how people enjoy their whisky, he says.
“It’s about taste, how you’re drinking and who you’re drinking with. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on buying a very good old bottle of Scotch whisky you want to enjoy all the time it takes. If you’re drinking an 18-year-old or a 21, you want to enjoy what those 18 and 21 years have brought to the whisky.”
For something less aged, a mixed drink might suit, as such long drinks have become popular.
“Chivas 12 with ginger ale is great when it’s nice and warm: a highball glass, double shot of Chivas, top up with ginger ale, a slice of lime.”
Rules have changed when drinking whisky, Hosie says. “It’s very old school to say, ‘Never add anything to your whisky; always drink it neat.’”
As to bourbon and other whiskies he says, “There’s a place for everything. Whisky can be made anywhere.
The industry in Scotland is highly regulated, he says, to include distilling, aging and bottling.
“The process is checked, to make sure it is how it should be. When it comes down to sitting in a bar somewhere, or uncorking a bottle at home, you’re getting something very high quality, and that’s why I say there’s no bad whisky, just different flavors and different tastes.”
A person who enjoys Chivas 12 may find Chivas 21 or 25 too strong, he says.
Aside from a price difference in airport outlets, Hosie says, “A lot of companies will have exclusive products within duty free which are not available regularly in domestic markets. … It’s something new for people to try.” Gifts sometimes come with airport promotions, he says.
Hosie, 41, studied French and Spanish at Strathclyde University.
“A job with Chivas came up; I applied for it and got it.”
Hosie moved to Keith, near Speyside in the Northeast Highlands of Scotland, an area famous for the greatest number of distilleries. “That’s where one of our main distilleries is — called Strathisla.”
Four years later in 2007 he was offered the chance to move to Hong Kong, which he had visited. “I knew I’d probably settle well and quickly,” he says.
After two years of concentrating on the mainland China market Hosie’s responsibilities now extend to Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong as well as Micronesia. He promotes the Chivas portfolio of Chivas Regal, Royal Salute, Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet offerings. Chivas products are distributed in Micronesia by Titan Imports Inc. Chivas Brothers is a unit of Pernod Ricard.
Hosie is making a second visit to the Mariana Islands. The region may be a relatively small market, but Hosie says the travel retail market, or duty-free sales it attracts, make it important, as is travel retail to the company generally. “For Chivas Brothers, it’s a huge part of our business.”