James Cowan oversees global commercial interest in both Waterford Whisky and Renegade Rum. Here, he highlights the distinctiveness of both brands and identifies the latest market trends.
What have been your career highlights?
There have been many memorable events that are now saved in my memory bank forever. Prior to my current role at Waterford & Renegade, I had the privilege of working with some globally recognized brands, such as BenRiach, GlenDronach, Buffalo Trace, Pappy Van Winkle, Fireball, Southern Comfort and Scapegrace. All of these experiences have helped shape my appreciation for how diverse the spirits landscape is. As a sales director, my role involves ambassadorial duties, which adds an interesting layer to what would otherwise be simply selling.
What sets the brand apart from competitors?
Transparency and honesty. There is no “smoke and mirrors” or marketing story. We provide verification on where the flavor originates: born from the fields in the form of barley. It’s barley, yeast, and water — nothing else: no coloring or flavoring. We stay true to the values of provenance, using only Irish barley and the highest quality wood for maturation. In addition, we steer clear of single casks, instead adopting a wine approach through the assemblage of Cuvees.
What are the latest trends shaping the whisky industry?
While there are trends that go out of fashion as quickly as they come in, we quietly get on with the job at hand, which is instilling transparency in what we do. The modern-day consumer is more aware of the products around them. They want to know about what they are drinking and how it has been made. They seek facts, rather than tales, and wish to understand why the product tastes as it does. Waterford aims to dispel the many myths that circulate within our profession.
Is there any news you would like to share with our readers?
Over the years, as part of the evolution of Waterford Whisky and Renegade Rum, we delved into the specific flavors of any one single farm. Moving forward, we will place greater focus and emphasis on the Cuvee concept, which highlights a greater level of complexity within the product makeup. Thus, we will be able to provide both very specific flavors at one end of the spectrum with our Single Farm Origins as well as providing a broader, more complex distillery style through our Cuvees.