Glenmorangie CEO Thomas Moradpour on their India plans

Thomas Moradpour may be new to his role as President and CEO of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg (he took over last August), but he is clear about his and the brand’s vision: “We’re not here to think about quarterly sales”. On his first visit to India in his new role, he explains, “The thing that unites all of the brands of Moët Hennessy is heritage and long term vision. We’re here to think about the business and our impact through generations.”

We’re at the Four Seasons Mumbai, in a meeting room with Stéphane de Meurville, Managing Director of Moët Hennessy India. With a youthful energy that is echoed in his French-accented English, the former chief marketing officer of Hennessy, is eager to tout the importance of the Indian market for both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. “I’m only now getting to start my tour of the world. So it tells you something that I’m here in India. I do believe that out of all the countries where single malt Scotch can and will be bigger in the future, India is sitting at a very prominent place,” says Moradpour.

Young appeal

But first, he is learning how the brand, and its offerings, differ from Hennessy. For one, it requires “a long time in the planning and a long time in the making”. To illustrate his point, he gives the example of Allta 2019, the 10th iteration of their yearly Private Edition. Made with a species of wild yeast (Saccharomyces diaemath, unidentified till now) that grows on their Cadboll barley, the limited-edition is a departure from whisky-brewing norms — requiring the yeast to be grown in lab conditions, and then eight years to mature the liquor. With floral notes and hints of baking bread and bitter-sweet orange, it is one of the newer experiments by Dr Bill Lumsden, the director of whisky creation, distilling and whisky stocks at Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. This ‘changing’ of certain aspects of the whisky-making process is something that Moradpour sees as vital to the brand’s growth and future.

Glenmorangie CEO Thomas Moradpour on their India plans

With single-malts now being consumed by an increasingly diverse demographic, including women, Moradpour says, “[Whisky making] needs two minds. You need to have one eye on the present — with a finger on the pulse of culture, of trends, of new behaviours — but also an eye on the next generation; thinking about consumers not born yet.” This requires keeping abreast with how single malt is consumed: be it at standalone restaurants and bars, or by touring retail touch points and hotels.

He’s clear though that rules are important. “We make no shortcuts or compromises. But after we offer the product to the world, we want people to enjoy it in new, creative ways.” So he’s happy to find bartenders creating cocktails with Glenmorangie. “For us, being a key part of a mixology trend means that we are being embraced by a new generation of bartenders.”

Age no bar

Speaking about the different types of single-malts, Moradpour shares that there are core offerings, as well as one-off yearly private editions, which allow for experimentation. There are also bottles aimed at connoisseurs (usually aged for longer than 12 years), categorised under the prestige expressions tag, and some that are exclusive to travel retail. This appeal to different palates broadens the reach of the brand and its offerings.

At the moment, both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg are constructing more stills, to keep up with an expected growth in demand over the years. Two of them will be experimental, allowing for “odd whiskies and whiskies that Dr Lumsden finds interesting.” And when it comes to adapting to increasing demand, the company has already introduced no-age statement whiskies in the travel market, Moradpour says. “In fact, we have a number of expressions that don't rely on age in the portfolio. Age is just one dimension of quality.” Citing the example of Signet, made with roasted ‘chocolate’ barley malt and aged in American white oak casks, he states that it has no age statement and yet it is one of their luxury expressions. No surprise then that Moradpour ends his day drinking his Signet neat, with some chocolate on the side.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 10:24:20 PM |

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