BY IAN DE COTTA
RICHARD PATERSON parts his hair to the left, high on the pate. The bush that the nose sits on is as neat. Appearances matter and he dresses niftily for occasions, always in a two-piece suit with matching pocket square and tie.
The 64-year-old Scot easily passes off as chairman of the board. Except he is not. His is the world of art and he, a craftsman creating expressions of whiskies.
Paterson has been Whyte & Mackay’s master distiller and blender for over four decades. He is also custodian of The Dalmore single malt distillery, bastion of many of Scotland’s oldest and rarest whiskies. But Paterson is most acclaimed for sniffing out when whisky stocks are ready to roll out. It is an art passed down two generations, from grandfather and dad – the ability to tell when a whisky gives off the right scent means the difference between a great and an exceptional Scotch. His nostrils, insured for £1.5 million (S$3.2 million), usually hit the right notes. Peers hail him as “The Nose” and he wears it with pride. His Twitter account carries that moniker.
When he criss-crosses the globe, he is the ambassador for Scottish whisky. It is a regal role as Scotch is the world’s gold standard for the many expressions of the alcohol.
But of late, it has had to contend with stiffer competition. In April, the Scotch Whisky Association said demand for supplies fell 7 per cent, with sales dropping from £4.26 billion in 2013 to £3.95 billion last year. The biggest drop was in Singapore, its gateway to Asia, sliding as far down as 16 per cent in the first half of last year.
This interview first appeared in The Peak. Read the full story here: Why Scotch is not going anywhere