Our next guest in the FAST 10 section is Daniel Schöll, one of the leaders of the Beam Suntory Corporation. We spoke to him at the Bar Convent Berlin.
It is the third largest producer of distilled beverages worldwide, behind Diageo and Pernod Ricard. The company’s principal products include bourbon whiskey, tequila, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, vodka, cognac, rum, cordials, and ready-to-drink pre-mixed cocktails.
I am with Daniel from Beam Suntory Corporation. Hi Daniel, a few things that we need to know as bartenders. How did you become a global guy, for a global company, to work as a premium segment for a Whiskey in a Beam Suntory?
– Yes, so I started in a marketing and sales department and found out that for me it’s superior to talk about brands than just sell brand by money. To show people what the benefits are of the brands, what you can do differently, what makes our brand different to other brands and to the benefits you can have as a bartender, as an owner, and what defines a brand.
What do you think, is the advantage that you have never worked behind a bar or this can be something that slows you down in promoting the brands for the bartenders?
– So it’s a different approach. I’ve never worked behind a bar officially. I stood behind a couple of bars and tried to understand. I spend a lot of time in front of bars so I know what the customer is seeing. So I know what the costumer is asking and I can talk from the costumer perspective as well, not just about the bars perspective. And I think when you talk to people, even if you haven’t worked in bars, you understand. If you listen, you understand.
The main question is that, when I’m looking at your brands, you have Scotland, Japan and the USA. So which one is your favorite?
– Always the next one.
Good one! And when you are suggesting to drink whiskey, what is your suggestion if you don’t think about the part “drink it as you wish”. What is your suggestion on how to serve your whiskies?
Try Neat first, try room temeperature first. If it suits you, we did a good job and if it doesn’t suit you, try any damn way you like.
How do you explain and how to convince people to try Peated Whiskies?
So, when you’re not that used to Peat perhaps it’s easier to start with Baltimore because it’s not the heaviest, not the Peatest not the strongest but it’s a Peated Whiskey. We got the Highland Park as well, which is on the more like sweeter, honey heather, floral side, different kind of Peat. We got an Irish Wiskey as well as Maryland like Peated Irish Single Malt that is slightly Peated. It’s good to have the people not try the heaviest, the Peatest, the strongest first and then they see that there is a big variety of Peated Whiskies.
Speaking of principals, are Japanese distillers aware that Scots are still better because they learned to distill them, or are the awards they have received over the past few years because they make the best whiskey in the world and do something to improve the distillation process overall?
– So in Japan we got almost a hundred years of distillation history. Now, as well of course, Japanese learn it from the Scots and the philosophy in Japan is that you always can improve yourself, that you never stand still. So it’s been a constant process for the last hundred years and it’s going forward as well. So there is no one definition of Japanese Whiskey, there is, of course, not one definition of one kind of Scottish Whiskey, so we are constantly working, constantly refinding. The awards you mentioned show that we are doing some things quite good.
Mizunara or American Old?
– Depending on which flavour you wanna achieve in the end. So a different approach. Like them both, but of course, Mizunara is way more constantly active and takes way longer to get a good Whiskey from Mizunara cask. It takes a couple of years longer than American Old.
I met your wife, so how do you connect your private and business life?
– It’s easy to connect because we are here, we talk with everyone, we talk about the brands and I’m doing it, she’s doing it and we understand what the other one is doing. It’s quite nice to be away from home, but have your home with you.
And the last one – advice for bartenders. How to improve sales of the Whisey in the bars?
– Try everything, try everything twice and never stay still as well. So always try new things and try out what you like, find out what your customers like and just have fun working.
Croatia! Have you visited Croatia until now and what are your plans in the future?
– So I haven’t been to Croatia yet. I just read some nice things about it, saw some nice pictures of different spots like Dubrovnik and cities like that. But I haven’t been there yet.
Daniel thanks a lot!