I started my working life as an apprentice Cooper in the Whisky industry, graduating to cooper then craftsman cooper, working around 19 years with various companies..Wm teachers , Arthur Bells, D.C.L. and contract companies.
Decided to move on to buy a guest house in Edinburgh, got a part-time job at the Norton House Hotel owned by the Businessman David Murray who was a bit of a wine buff and boss of the Glasgow Rangers football club.
I quickly got the “bug” and moved relatively quickly with my background of travel and history into the never-ending realms of the Wine & Spirit World.
I was given great encouragement by Mr Murray and started entering competitions and Wine & spirit examinations.
The hotel was then bought over by Richard Branson who also promoted the wine culture and I started writing for the Virgin Airlines in-house magazine.
In 1989 I got to the finals of The U.K. Sommelier of the Year of which I surprised the other competitors by running away with the Mastermind section. Got through the following year and took the Title and the same year won the Ruinart Trophy and along with Gerard Basset represented the U.K. in the Meillieur Sommelier du Europe.
Began writing some small wine columns for local Glasgow newspapers.
Moved to One Devonshire Gardens Hotel in Glasgow owned my Ken McCulloch who’s brainchild was The Malmaison Hotel concept. I worked with the now very high profile Chef Andrew Fairlie for 7 years 1Michelin Star. Then moved with Andrew to set-up Restaurant Andrew Fairlie @ Gleneagles. Now a 2 michelin stars.
I also became a part-time lecturer for 10years at Duncan of Jordanston college, at Dundee University.
During this time I spent travelling extensivley throughout the vineyards of the world.
In 2005 I joined the Malmaison Hotel Group as Director of Wines and Spirits.
In 2008 I moved to the Devere Group as Director of Wines & Spirits, and have also by association, retained my links with Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
In July 2010 I returned to Malmaison Hotels to continue my role as Wine & Spirit Director…..
The bulk of my work is Constructing Wine and Spirit Lists, Training, Wine & Spirit Dinners and corporate events.
On occasion I have spent a few days, “hands on” in Whisky and Gin Distilleries, Breweries etc and to –date I’ve done 7 wine harvests…..
I became consultant Head of the Whisky department at McTears Auction House in Glasgow a role which began in 2011.
I continue to travel worldwide in my pursuit to learn as much as I can in this never ending fascinating subject of Wines & Spirits
Regards….. Johnny Walker