Diageo, the leading global distiller, has recognised a number of key employees and stakeholders for their exceptional contribution to Scotch whisky at the bi-annual Keepers of the Quaich banquet. Out of the eight nominees from across the globe, four nominees from India were titled as Keepers of the Quaich at the 63rd ceremony that took place on Monday, 4 April at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl, Scotland.
Keepers of the Quaich is an international society established by the Scotch whisky industry to celebrate the outstanding commitment of those involved in the production, promotion and protection of the world’s finest distilled spirit.
The latest Keepers of the Quaich banquet saw 43 people inducted as Keepers of the Quaich and five people honoured as Masters of the Quaich from 15 countries around the world, including India, Mexico, South Africa, France and Sweden.
Amongst those honored as Masters of the Quaich - the industry’s highest accolade – was Diageo’s Edward Pilkington, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer for North America, in recognition of 30 years in the industry during which he has led Scotch growth for the company in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the US and Canada.
Diageo also had eight nominees accepted as Keepers of the Quaich, including five employees and three stakeholders, all who have demonstrated an exceptional contribution to Scotch whisky.
Julie Bramham, global brand director, Johnnie Walker: Twenty-two years in marketing with Diageo, working primarily on Johnnie Walker in roles in the UK, Europe, India and now leading global marketing of the world’s number one selling Scotch whisky.
James Mackay, head of Rare & Exceptional Spirits: A 27-year career in Scotch, working in Asia for a range of brands before joining Diageo in 2015 to lead its private client business.
Prathmesh Mishra, chief commercial officer, Diageo India: Leading the growth of Scotch whisky in India over 22 years and helping Johnnie Walker become the first imported spirit brand to touch the 1 million case sales barrier in India. He has also been instrumental in the growth of Bottled-in-India Scotches to touch 1.5 million cases.
Jackie Robertson, master distiller, Brora Distillery: After joining the industry 17 years ago, Jackie has distilled some of the finest Single Malt Scotch Whiskies in the industry at Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar and Talisker distilleries, before being elevated to the rank of Master Distiller at the iconic Brora Distillery.
Claudia Schubert, president of US Spirits & Canada: Has played an instrumental role in popularising Scotch whisky during a 13-year commercial career in Europe and North America, including driving brand partnerships such as that between Johnnie Walker and Game of Thrones.
Shatbhi Basu, partner, creative consultants; STIR Academy of Bartending: A legend in the Indian hospitality industry having spent four decades as a bartender, beverage consultant, author, TV presenter and educator, always with Scotch whisky at her heart.
Puneet Chhatwal, chief executive officer, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd: With close to 4 decades in the hospitality industry, Puneet has contributed immeasurably to the fame and popularity of Scotch whisky in India and globally.
Manish Pardasani, director (chairman), Mumbai Wines & Trades Private Ltd: One of India’s leading retail entrepreneurs, Manish has played a powerful role in growing the popularity of Scotch whisky in India through his innovative approach to retail.
The April Banquet also marked the introduction of Diageo’s Ian Smith as Chair of Keepers of the Quaich, one of the most distinguished industry leadership positions, with responsibility for running the Keepers Management Committee and presiding over the Blair Castle ceremony for a three-year term.
Commenting on becoming Chair, Ian Smith said, “It is a real privilege to lead Keepers of the Quaich and to be able to celebrate people from all around the world, from a vast range of backgrounds, who have made exceptional contributions to Scotch whisky.
“It was a delight to welcome guests from 15 different countries, representing every aspect of whisky from grain, to distillery, to glass, and to celebrate their outstanding achievements.”