A day in the life
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background.
Hello, my name is Mariella. I’m currently working as International Brand Ambassador for Elixir Distillers looking after the Port Askaig, Elements of Islay and Single Malts of Scotland whisky ranges.
Why did you decide on a career in the world of whisky ?
My whisky journey started four years ago. I left Italy, a boyfriend, uni and a very scared mother in search of a new path, new passions and, hopefully, a new career. Just like a lot of other italians in London, starting from the bottom as a little town girl in a huge chaotic city, I started working in a bar and that’s where the magic happened. I have always had an interest for spirits but never really focused on it. One day I got offered a dram of Lagavulin 16 and as soon as I drunk it I fell in love, felt like a teenager that just had a crush, butterflies included – couldn’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, reading, tasting, researching and discovering every possible detail of this amazing world. Being a farmer’s daughter, I was in love with the romanticism of whisky making from barley to liquid and at the same time as an Italian I connected with
the whisky’s strong sense of tradition. On the 31st of December 2013 I made my decision to do everything possible to dedicate the new year to my whisky love. After humbly sending my CV to most whisky companies in London I finally got a job as a sales assistant at The Whisky Exchange shop in Vinopolis. Four years and a few jobs have passed and I still love it all – the people, the magic and especially the liquid!
What first interested you in the company ?
I was lucky to have worked with a sister company of Elixir Distillers before, even if it was in a different department. It was great to feel wanted by the team and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me despite my very little experience. Being an Islay lover and having worked for an independent bottler the previous year, the transaction in the new job was smooth as was the understanding of the company and the appreciation for the whisky. Even better considering that my boss Ollie and I share almost the same taste, believe me when I say that that makes it so much easier.
Can you tell us a little about your day to day job and what is involved.
Everyday is different from the next, especially with three different brands to look after and a few different countries to visit. You can find me pouring Peat in an East London bar, or in Birmingham pairing whiskies and doughnuts for a whisky club, or in Belgium introducing the ranges to a retailer and hosting a tasting. The diversity of the role, travelling, meeting new people and obviously sharing my passion for whisky make me appreciate my job but be sure that there are negative sides to this role as well – you just need to make sure that there are more good ones.
What is it that you enjoy the most about the industry ?
Definitely the people and the friendship amongst whisky companies. Whisky is definitely a social drink and it makes me happy to know that I can always share a dram with other ambassadors or whisky people after a show or a tasting in a lovely, friendly way.
What has surprised you most about your job ?
Can I just reply by saying “how hard it was”? I obviously mean it in a good way now but I was completely overwhelmed at the begining. There was so much to learn and to change – my lifestyle and mindset are completely different compared to last year. I feel like a much more responsible, organized adult now and I am glad I have a much clearer view of the whisky industry and the different brands/ companies within.
Have you got a favourite whisky?
I am in love with Bowmore, especially the late 90s bourbon cask matured expressions. A gentle peatiness with a salty touch and a basket of tropical fruitiness – if you ever come across the Bw5 bottle by Elements of Islay make sure you try it and you will understand!
Firstly let me thank Mariella for taking time from her very busy work load and also for the use of the photos.. I am sure you will all agree once more this is a great feature which just opens up another area within the industry.
If you are at a festival or tasting run by Mariella then you are in for a treat, she is always bubbly and smiling and informative..