This piece was inspired by Simon Brooking, the brand ambassador for scotch whiskies for Beam Suntory.
When I asked him what makes Laphroaig special to him, he told me about Alan, the stillman, who works at night here alone inside the still house. Every time when he goes to Islay, he stays at Alan’s house. I was very lucky, too! I was new and eager to learn about whisky 7 years ago when I traveled alone to Scotland after quitting social work.
I didn’t know anyone, but Simon Brooking was eager to help me on my whisky journey and he connected me with Alan. I was able to stay at Alan’s place and he and his wife cooked me food. I was so happy because I felt I had nothing to offer to them, but there were strangers who helped me. In some ways I felt guilty because I wasn’t in the industry. I was just by myself and curious about whisky. I felt I couldn’t offer them anything in return. In social work, expecting something in return wasn’t in our job description; we were expected to work long hours and give and give.
Then, all of sudden I did a selfish thing and decided I wanted to invest in happiness for myself. It was a very uncomfortable feeling to be on the opposite end (receiving things). Because of Simon and 2 other ambassadors (Johnnie Mundell and Martin Daraz) I was inspired to take a leap of faith. I was very scared to travel alone, but I learned that I could rely on my instincts and I also learned that when you open your heart to the universe w/good intentions miracles happen. I really hope one day I will be able to funnel money back into Scotland and bring a loving awareness to the beauty this country offers to the world.