The spirit of adventure

Moji Shand experienced a career change after she visited Scotland and was introduced to its distilleries
Moji Shand experienced a career change after she visited Scotland and was introduced to its distilleries

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An American expat lawyer was so beguiled by the world of whisky that she now heads a Scotch company

Moji Shand, CEO of Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky began her career as an attorney at law. A graduate of the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, she also began her law career in the city, where she served as a senior supervising attorney at a prestigious, mid-size AV rated law firm.

After visiting Scotland and some of its world-renowned distilleries, Moji was introduced to the world of Scotch Whisky. This encounter finally lead to a career change which in 2012 brought her to Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, which she now heads. Here, Moji tells us about her role and vision for the organization

What is your role in the firm and what do you do on a day-day basis?
Our HQ is based in Huntly, Scotland and we also have offices in Los Angeles. As I work closely with the team at Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky in both Scotland and US, and our PR & marketing company and external sales team, it means working between two time zones.

With so much going on, no two days are ever the same. The one constant though is starting by trying to prioritize what is important for the business and working my way through things in order of priority.

One of the principal tasks is looking at our products and assessing what sells well, where we are stocked and analyzing what we can do to promote our products to a wider market.
Harking back to my legal roots, I also deal with all the legal aspects for the company.

What role do your staff play in the success of the firm?
We prefer to refer to our members of staff as team members and every team member in our company has a different yet important role to play in the success of the firm.

From the Master Blender to the Bottling Hall Manager they all play an important part and are dedicated, loyal, passionate and go above and beyond their call of duty to ensure Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky is one of the leading and innovative companies in the sector.

What’s more, we don’t have a high turnover of staff and I believe this is proof that our staff enjoy working at Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky.

What feedback do you get from your customers – and how do you raise the profile of the organization?
We receive a lot of very positive feedback from customers and have a high percentage of returning custom which confirms to me that we are producing whiskies that people enjoy and want to drink again.

Since opening our US office in 2012 we have significantly grown our profile and sales in the US, resulting in 2016 being one of the best years to date.

To help raise our profile we sponsor and attend a range of high-profile events. With Black Bull, we sponsor a British GT Motor Racing team. We also were sponsors of the prestigious Hollywood world-famous Critics’ Choice Awards Ceremony, which gives us the chance to showcase our whiskies to a new market.

Looking at the wider picture, what opportunities and challenges lie ahead for the industry you work in?
Obviously, the main thing to touch on here would be Brexit. We think it will produce both opportunities and challenges and we will watch it closely to see what impact it will have on the whisky industry.

Personally, for Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, we are looking to build a cask warehouse and potentially a distillery at some point in the future.

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A blend of many talents

Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, founded in 1938, is a global, award-winning, independently owned scotch whisky merchant based in the north-east of Scotland, with offices in South Pasadena, LA.

They own one of the world’s largest privately-held collections of rare and vintage scotch whisky casks.

The company’s focus is on cask maturation, independent bottling and also blending of one of the world’s best blended Scotch whiskies, Black Bull.

In addition to the Single Malt and Single Grain range, Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky also produce several blended products including The Smokin and The Big Smoke.

In December, the company’s Octave collection won 7 awards at the Independent Bottlers’ Challenge run by Whisky Magazine.

Two of their rums won Masters from The Spirits Business in March and Black Bull 40-year old won the Best Scotch Blended Limited Release at the World Whiskies Awards 2017 at the Waldorf in London.

Black Bull 40-Year-Old Wins Best Scotch Whisky Blend Award

A recent release by Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky has claimed top honors at the World Whiskies Awards in London. Black Bull 40-year-old blended scotch, batch 7, was released only last year and quickly drew critical acclaim from industry experts. Last month it was awarded the Best Scotch Blended Limited Release.

The Black Bull 40 year old attracted acclaim from critics and was a winner
The Black Bull 40 year old attracted acclaim from critics and was a winner

Moji Shand, CEO at Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, said: “Only the best entries in each category were recognized last night, so we are understandably delighted to win this award. It reflects the recent growth we have had for our Black Bull brand. Our Black Bull 21-year-old also won a Gold in its category and our 12 year old won Silver too. All the hard work that goes into creating these blends has paid off big time for the team.”

The winning 40 year old includes blended single malts from as far back as 1966. Aberlour 1975, Macallan 1969 and Glenlivet 1968 were included alongside some of the most distinguished malts on the market today. Duncan Taylor has ownership of one of the largest privately-held collections of rare scotch whisky casks in the world.

The World Whiskies Awards are hosted by Whisky Magazine and is one of the largest, most prestigious whisky awards in the world.

The ceremony was held at The Waldorf Hotel in London. The awards, which were launched in 2007, select, reward and promote the world’s best single malts, blended and blended malts, grain whiskies and bourbons from across the globe. The panel, of more than 35 judges from all over the world, are from the most respected and experienced authorities in the industry.

Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky is no stranger to accolades. In the past year, they have racked up several awards for their whiskies from the likes of The China Wine and Spirits Awards and San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Two of the company’s rums also picked up prestigious Master Awards from The Spirits Business last month.