Brett Bayly’s journey has taken him from his formative years growing up in Southeast Asia (the Philippines, to be exact), to over a decade bartending and managing establishments. Now as the newly-appointed brand ambassador of Glenfiddich for Southeast Asia, the 31-year-old is set to take the lead in the strategy and operations of Glenfiddich’s World Most Experimental Bartender 2019 competition. It’s playing out to be a busy year for Bayly, so we’re lucky to nab a quick catch-up with the South Australian.
Both whisky cultures are unique, but also have a lot of crossover. I find that the gift giving culture practiced in Southeast Asia is missing in Australia, where the value of process in selection of whisky really highlights the value of the relationship. Australia has a real ‘mate-ship’ culture that is often enjoyed best in bars, with some stellar locations around the country that serve a lot more of a cocktail focus than just straight drams.
Me as a drink? Ha, I think that’s a unique way to phrase the old describe yourself in three words. I’d put myself down maybe as a Penicillin cocktail; a bit of bite from the ginger, sometimes a little sour, but mostly just relaxed casual and always a good choice for fun times with friends. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too pretentious.
I was bartending in Australia for about 10 years in total — I was mostly based in South Australia but had a bit of time bartending in Sydney also. I started at a country-themed pub, and over the years worked my way into upper management, eventually taking on General Management of the Little Miss Group where we specialised in popup activation work and small bars.I skipped the whole college thing to work, as I found I was more prone to retaining information if I made mistakes and was hands on with my education. The Little Miss Group was what fortified my understanding of business management, and really gave me a grounding in how to run a venue efficiently, as well as the rapid pace we operated at. I think our best run was nine bars in six months opened, activated, and bumped out again. It was a pretty wild time for me.
I think what gets me excited about in my role, is how excitable people are to learn about something that has been around, and had so much impact on the industry. I remember being first exposed to the Brand Ambassador teams in Australia, and thinking it was the coolest job. Getting to work with a product that has so much heritage behind it, so many family values still tied, and so many pioneering moments throughout the categories history is a great position to be in. I’m loving the travel — a little sick of airports already — but it’s fascinating seeing the trends and also the stand out unique characteristics of each market, and how they interact with our product. As of yet, I’ve not been unimpressed.
Ooh! The old pick your favourite child question. I actually can answer that pretty easily, I really enjoy our 15 year old Solera Vat. For me it’s a great intermediary that has cocktail application, as well as being able to stand up on it’s own. It’s got a really nice bite at the start that screams at me of the ginger and cinnamon spice that’s then developed into this warm, rich, and sweet honey note that is so smooth. I really like putting the 15 year old into a Daiquiri, sounds a little odd but the complexity of the whisky really makes it cut through the citrus and sweetness of the drink quite pleasantly.
I’m a very big believer in people enjoying the product the way they want. I was thrown back when I saw a guy putting mountain dew in his whisky a few years ago, but then learned that was the original purpose of that product. If you like your whisky in a cocktail, neat, on the rocks, or out of an old shoe then that’s totally fine.
I highly recommend whenever I’m doing tastings however that people try the liquid straight up, to really see what our team at the distillery was looking to capture in the bottle. Once you’ve done that, the world is your oyster with how you want to drink it — the important thing is that you enjoy it!
Ah what a perfect segue from my last answer. For me, whisky is best enjoyed with good company, plain and simple. I think a group of friends sitting around and catching up, makes anything better. If you have friends with an interest in whisky, you can really get into some fun discussing what’s in the bottle, and what everyone is getting.