Brewdog: ‘Tradition needs to be challenged’

22 February 2017 by Melita Kiely

Scotch whisky producers need to step out of their comfort zone and challenge traditions, says Steven Kersley, head of the Lone Wolf distillation team, the spirits arm of Brewdog.  

Speaking at the first World Whisky Forum at Box distillery in Sweden last week, Kersley was inspired by a call from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) that left him ‘frustrated’ over the confinements of ‘tradition’.

‘For me, to progress you need to challenge,’ he said. ‘You need to be unreasonable. This quote I quite like, it says: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.” But it has to taste good. Progress demands that you be unreasonable.

‘The only thing I’d add to that is it has to taste good. There’s no point doing innovation if it doesn’t taste great. You’re allowed to make mistakes but those mistakes should never find their way into the bottle.’

His presentation continued to explore the premiumisation of whisky and how consumers are being priced out of certain expressions, as well as looking to the future to assess the direction Scotch whisky is headed.

‘Where will Scotch be in 20 years?’ asks Kersley. ‘I don’t know. We need to accept that the rest of the world are going to move and we could potentially be left behind if we don’t challenge what we currently do.’

A 10-minute interview with Kersley is also available to view on the World Whisky Forum website along with presentations and interviews with each of the speakers, including Ichiro Akuto and Yumi Yoshikawa of Chichibu distillery; Jasmin Haider-Stadler of Distiller Haider/Roggenhof; Ludo Ducrocq of William Grant & Sons; Tony Reeman-Clark of Strathearn distillery; Roger Melander of Box distillery; Matt Hofmann of Westland distillery; Kevin Abrook of William Grant & Sons; Patrick Van Zuidam of Zuidam distillers; Jota Tanaka of Kirin Brewery Co; and head of the World Whisky Forum, Jan Groth. 

Additional presentations from the World Whisky Forum 2017 will also be uploaded to over the coming weeks. 

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