The Man Who Makes William Grant and Sons Tick
By Richard Thomas
When it comes to the big, established players in scotch whisky, arguably the one with the most cachet is William Grant and Sons. The company is not just the third largest in the industry, but also still an independent, family-owned enterprise after almost 130 years.
In terms of blended scotch, these are the people behind Monkey Shoulder and Clan MacGregor, but most especially the namesake brand Grant’s. The man now behind those whiskies is Brian Kinsman, and we were lucky enough to ask him about his work at William Grant and Sons.
RT: You had an eight-year apprenticeship with David Stewart, practically a living legend of the industry. What was it like working side by side with and the succeeding Stewart?
BK: Working with David was incredibly easy – he was very generous with his knowledge and had a very open way or working. We spent a lot of time together over the years and we got on very well which I guess was essential.
RT: I once read that after deciding work in dental manufacturing wasn’t for you, you were looking for work in both the oil and the scotch industry. Was whisky-making something you were always interested in pursuing, or is it something you happily fell into?
BK: I fell into it really but I am very glad I did!
RT: As I understand it, you were the man behind creating Grant’s 25 Year Old, and that was right around the time you took the helm as Master Blender. Was that your first big creation, and what was it like to put something together with those rarefied whiskies?
BK: Working on a new blend is always exciting as there are no pre-set flavor profiles. Grant’s 25 was indeed my first big project on the Grant’s range although David and I had been working on it together for a while prior to David stepping back and me taking on the Master Blender role. It is a privilege to sample, taste and blend such a beautiful array of old casks. I think the final blend is a true reflection of the Grant’s style
RT: You’ve been the Malt Master for going on five years now. In that time, what whisky project are you the most proud of?
BK: All of them. I love what I do and every product gets the same care and attention from both myself and all of our craftsmen.
RT: Do you have a liking for North American whiskeys? The William Grant portfolio includes Gibson’s Finest after all.
BK: I like tasting whiskies from all over the World and I find it fascinating how subtle changes in process and maturation can create such a wide range of flavours.