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Five minutes with Stef Holt, Mangrove Global

Published:  06 February, 2024

Jo Gilbert catches up with Stef Holt on her new role as the first curator of world whisky for Mangrove Global.

I can pinpoint the moment I fell in love with whisky. In fact, I can point to a specific dram. And being half Scottish with a granny who enjoyed a daily dram (or two), I do see the irony in that my love affair with the spirit began in London. During my bartending years in the capital, I attended the launch of Ardbeg’s Uigeadail single malt – a wonderfully peaty variety from Islay – and I was hooked.

That was back in the 2000s and since then, whisky has become even more dynamic – liberated even – largely thanks to the world whisky category. In the past decade, new distilleries have been popping up in unexpected regions – Denmark, Mexico and even closer to home in England – and each of them is doing things differently by being creative with production and ageing techniques that bring something new to the table.

But what’s undoubtedly best about whisky and largely fuelling this new-found freedom for producers is the new generation of drinkers. They’re young, diverse, brave and they truly want to explore spirits and travel the world by taste. They’re thirsty for the unusual, which is empowering brands to be bold and daring; and quite frankly, many of the liquids born of this freedom are exceptional. If you don’t consider yourself a whisky drinker, I can almost guarantee there’s a New World whisky out there for you.

That is what my new role is all about – bringing these fascinating liquids to new lips and challenging other spirits lovers to join us in whisky, because for me it’s the most rewarding category there is.