This week we share a nightcap with a whiskey educator who is responsible for the trade education and advocacy for the entire whiskey portfolio at Diageo (Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit, Talisker, Lagavulin, J&B to name just a few!). Impressive? We’re drooling right now! A cocktail enthusiast and whiskey advocate – Todd is the kind of guy you want to be stuck on a desert island with, provided he’s bringing the whiskey. So pour yourself three fingers of your favorite brown spirit and belly up as we meet Todd Richman.
NightOwl: Todd, how’d you get your start in the whiskey business?
Todd: Funny enough, I come from a culinary background, and I was a cook until 2007. I’ve been in the wine/spirits business since 2007, and while I have studied all categories, I have been working with the Diageo Masters of Whiskey since 2014. I’ve had the opportunity to learn and work alongside some of the best talents in the world. They taught me about cocktails – and there is still a lot to learn.
NightOwl: As Whiskey Educator for Diageo (is there a cooler job title?) – what does a typical day look like for you?
Todd: I currently represent 100 Diageo whiskeys from Scotland, America and Canada. People want to know as much as they can about whiskey, and that’s really exciting! My day is constantly fluid and changing. It’s a mix of reading, emails, tastings, working with our wholesalers and passionately educating bartenders and consumers about Diageo whiskeys. Each day is different and unique; there’s always something to do, read and learn in order to stay sharp. Our consumers are savvy. They understand trends and have a lot of curiosity, making my job really exciting.
NightOwl: Tell us what makes a great whiskey?
Todd: Regardless of the size of the brand or how much they produce, it’s the care and love along every step of the way that makes a great whiskey. Be it a smaller brand like George Dickel or a larger one like Johnnie Walker. Every step from the selection of grain to distillation, to aging and (in certain cases) blending, is essential to making a whiskey great. Someone once said, “A brand is not good because it is old, a brand is old because it is good.” There’s a reason great whiskeys have been around for a while. They take their time and make it the right way, without compromising or cutting corners.
NightOwl: What’s your favorite whiskey cocktail, or do you prefer to drink it straight?
Todd: It depends on my mood. Lately, I love the Godfather Cocktail with Talisker, and I always have a soft spot for a Bulleit Rye Manhattan, served up. It’s great that our whiskeys are fantastic on their own or with ice or a little water. If it’s hot out, I lean towards a Johnnie Red Label and Ginger (2 dashes of bitters with lime); it’s delicious.
NightOwl: It’s 5 o’clock on Friday – where will we find you?
Todd: Usually finishing up work either with our wholesaler, preparing for an event or getting ready to lace up my shoes for an evening run.
NightOwl: After a long day, what’s your drink of choice?
Todd: Well, I drink a lot of water! If I do drink after a long day, it’s just an ounce of The Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition. It’s one of my bucket-list scotches, and it’s amazing.
Click here, for a sneak peak into some of Todd’s favorite whiskey bars.
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