Drinks World recently got the opportunity to meet with Robin Coupar – the Global Brand Ambassador for Campari. With over 21 years in the industry, Robin was armed with a wealth of knowledge and we got talking about all things whisk(e)y, his time in Asia and the exciting new release of Master’s Keep.
How long have you been in Singapore and are you travelling to any other countries in Asia?
I’m only in Singapore for two days unfortunately. I have quite a tight tour schedule. I flew from San Francisco to Manila, Bali, Jakarta and now Singapore. After my time in Singapore I then fly to Japan and then back home to San Francisco.
Have you been to Asia before?
This is not my first time in Asia, I was in Malaysia as a young child and from memory I spent a day in Singapore, however this is the first time I have been back to Singapore as an Adult and absolutely love it – it has changed my life and has opened my eyes up to the emerging cocktail scene in Asia.
What has been the highlight in Singapore for you? Favourite bar?
We held a Wild Turkey dinner at a restaurant called Pluck located on Club St. The dinner was a Wild Turkey and food pairing that went really well. Post dinner we went to a bar called Jekyll & Hyde and I must commend the two bartenders working that night. They were incredible and the cocktails they were creating with Wild Turkey were very well crafted.
I’m based in San Francisco, however I travel a lot throughout the US, including New York and Chicago and you think you are in the epicenter of mixology and cocktail craft. After my experience in Asia, I can say this market has a pretty special thing going on. I am literally blown away by the cocktail culture I have seen while I have been over here – I am very impressed.
How long have you been the Global Brand Ambassador for Campari?
I have been with Campari for eight years. Up until December last year I was the Senior Brand Manager looking after quite a few brands in the Campari portfolio. I am now the Global Brand Ambassador and known as a bit of a whisk(e)y specialist.
How are you seeing bourbon throughout the region? Is it being embraced by the bartenders?
Yes definitely – I have now seen it with my own eyes. I can see bartenders are really excited about bourbon. Bartenders are really interested about the history of spirit and the story behind the brand, which can all transition when creating a cocktail and customer engagement.
Whisky has a strong presence in Asia, however I feel bourbon is the next frontier.
If you look at the global whisk(e)y category numbers in 2013 to 2014, the fastest growing category was bourbon and growing double digits. If you just focus in on SEA, bourbon sales in this region grew 47 per cent in 2014 versus 2013 and that tells a story that there is a huge opportunity for bourbon to really break into this market.
The latest release, the Master’s Keep, where do you see this sitting on the back bar?
Top shelf or in a cabinet. The bottle is like a trophy and is quite unique with a Wild Turkey embossed on the bottle. It should be placed next to high-end and other rare whisky and bourbons.
We have only allocated 300 bottles to South East Asia and once this bourbon is gone it’s gone forever.
I can see a lot of collectors and investors will be jumping on this and adding it to their collection and selling it in 5 years time where the value will have increased.
There are 30,000 bottles in total and majority will be sold in the US as this is where most of the the demand will be as its our largest market, however bottles will be allocated to other parts of the world.
The distillation process went through a unique journey, and it began in 1997 when there was a surplus of Bourdon and a shortage of warehouse space. Eddie reached out to a fellow distiller, who could offer an empty stone warehouse. Eddie new this would age the Bourbon differently, but decided to take the chance.
After 17 years and 200 miles, it was felt the barrels had reach their peak flavour and this is how the Master’s Keep was born.
Whisky is very popular throughout Asia and with a growing demand for bourbon, how are you increasing awareness of this liquid? Any strategies to convert the traditional whisky drinker over to bourbon?
Firstly, it comes down to education. This is where it’s important to educate and train the bartenders on bourbon, the history, how it is made and the stories behind the brand. Facts tell, but stories really sell so it’s important to have a full understanding of the brands as a whole.
These days the consumer also expect a good quality cocktail as their knowledge within the spirits category is developing, so the consumer appreciates the full spectrum from the liquid used, how it is made, the service and presentation.
And finally, how do you suggest the Master’s Keep should be enjoyed?
Definitely served neat and glassware is absolutely imperative for this style of whiskey. I would suggest enjoying this tipple in snifter or large wine glass, swirl so you can appreciate all the aromas, savor the flavours and enjoy!