Q&A with Joe Ellis

date published



Kirsten Blackie-Gault



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We’re picking up our Q&A series for 2020 with Joe Ellis, one of our talented whisky specialists. Based in Birmingham, Joe has been with Edrington-Beam Suntory UK for almost five years. Prior to joining our team, he worked for specialist whisky retailers Hard To Find Whisky and The Whisky Shop for several years. He also spent time working at a whisky-focussed cocktail bar in Birmingham where he competed in several national cocktail competitions.

As part of our whisky specialist team, Joe works across the UK, supporting our customers by training bar staff on our extensive brand portfolio and how to create and serve the perfect mixed drinks. Joe also runs our internal Whisky Academy, an educational programme for our employees.

If you would like to find out more about furthering your career with us, head to our careers page for more information and to view current vacancies.  

Describe a typical day at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK?

The last five months have proven to be really fascinating. I have been building our Level 2 Whisky Academy; an educational programme for everyone in our company. This has meant extensive work going through each of our whisky brands and deciding what information should be taught. There has also been a hefty amount of organisational stuff too, so I’ve learnt how to approach teaching in a structured way.

What is your favourite part of your role?

My favourite part of the role - and I guess my favourite part of the whisky industry in general - is when you introduce someone to a particular whisky, tell them something about the liquid itself, the heritage of the distillery or the production process, and they then take that information and pass it onto someone else. Whisky for me has always been about spreading passion for this amazing drink and if I can encourage others to do the same, then that for me is excellent.

Is there anything you find challenging within your role?

I’m one of those people that gets their energy from others, and as this role is home-based it can sometimes feel challenging to make those connections. Thankfully I have amazing colleagues on-hand across the UK who I am in regular contact with to discuss ideas and get creative! It’s also brilliant to get out and meet our customers, spreading education and love for our portfolio.

What advice would you have for others looking to develop within the drinks industry?

My advice for anyone wanting to develop a career within the drinks industry is you have to be really passionate about the brands you may be working for. There’s no point in applying for a job with a company where you don’t care about the brands they represent, as you will already be onto a losing battle. For many people the drinks industry isn’t just a job, it’s a life choice!

The most important question – what is your favourite serve?

Anyone who knows me, knows that this is the same answer every time: Highland Park 12 Rob Roy. Come on, just be honest with yourself, Rob Roys are far better than Manhattans! The combination of subtly smoky sherry cask matured single malt, sweet vermouth and bitters is just to die for!