As an American, the irony is not lost on me that my next guest, a Scot, is talking about Tennessee Whiskey ALL THE TIME!
Jack and Coke was the first cocktail Cam Dawson ever tried. It had to be written in the stars that he would become UK Brand Ambassador for Jack Daniel’s. Cam is definitely not the only one flying the Jack Daniel’s flag! Jack Daniel’s has the title of the “biggest selling whiskey in the world.”, plus it has that added cache to be Old Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra drink of choice.
A natural born storyteller, Cam steps away from recounting the tales of this 150+ year-old Tennessee Whiskey to reveal his own.
This episode originally aired on October 13, 2020.
You can listen to this episode here, or any of your favorite podcatchers.
Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Cam Dawson. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!
Susan: I am so happy to have you on the show. I think I know you for almost three or four years. I ran up to you at Imbibe Live and said, “I want a Jack Daniel’s T-shirt.” By the way, I am wearing the T-shirt now!
Cam: Amazing. I mean, I’m so happy that you still have that. I’ll have to send you a new one since I know that you’re a big fan of Tennessee Honey. I can send you a Tennessee Honey T-shirt as well.
Susan: I would love that! Look, it’s product placement. It’s in the background and in my hand, I have made a Tennessee Honey and lemonade. It’s is one of my favorite cocktails. So Cam Dawson, UK Brand Ambassador, Jack Daniel’s. It’s so exciting.
I usually start with your background, but I was doing a little research on you and I saw a video of you on YouTube where your father made a comment. You were talking about American whiskey. Your dad wrote, wait, I have to read this…
Cam: My father. I knew this man would be the end of my career.
Susan: No, it’s really good. Your father says, “I’m his father and I think he’s gone to the dark side, but he sells it well.” It was a positive comment, but I loved that he was the only comment. Of course we’ll start off with why your father thinks you’ve gone to the dark side? Where did you come from? What is the good side or the light side and the dark side?
Cam: This is something that I’ve always tried to do, being a brand ambassador, is try and keep what I say to people that are coming to hear me talk about my favorite product, is keep it related to me.
I grew up in the middle of Scotland. As a young child, I grew up in an area called the Trossachs. I was on holiday last week, walking through the Trossachs, which was a very, very, very long, long distance walk. Then I moved to a place very close to Stirling in Scotland, probably about seven miles west of Stirling.
I was four miles south of a distillery. I was seven miles east of a distillery. My village was surrounded by fields of barley. My dad is a huge whisky fan, there was always whisky in the house. What he would have been referring to was: I’ve gone to the dark side and I’m representing the Americans.
However, this is the first whiskey that I ever drank. It was! I still remember where I was, who I was with. For legal reasons, I was 18 years old. I’ve been using that joke for far too many years now, but that’s what he will be referring to, but he will be pleased to know that someone has appreciated his comments, because it’s usually myself and my sister telling him to take that comment down.
Susan: Now I have a question about your dad drinking whisky. Before we get to your first Jack and Coke, was there one specific brand that he loved or a way to drink it and did he try to get you to drink it?
Cam: I think there were always different brands in the house from all over Scotland, whether it be Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands. I was born a little town called Falkirk, which had a very
sought after whisky coming from there. I’ve always known about that brand and I’ve shared a few drams of that with my dad before, but not one in particular. I wouldn’t say that we’re a family of hardened drinkers or anything like that. It’s special occasions. It would be maybe a glass of wine with dinner sometimes. Dad wasn’t really the kind of father that would be in the pub every week or anything like that. It was always around. But I always remember there being the mysterious booze cupboard in the kitchen.
Susan: I think every family has that mysterious booze cupboard. For me it was crème de menthe. I used to stick my finger in it.
Cam: I’ve heard that story a lot, but we always get flipped right in the ear if we went too close to it. I remember it’s quite strange, now I’m in the drinks industry and even back then, I still remember labels that were in there and the things I love to drink now.
My dad used to have a business in Iceland. I remember as a family, we all went to Iceland once and brought back a bottle of Brennivín, which is their national drink, which is caraway, schnapps, a very, very dry version of that. I’ve used that in cocktail competitions. I’ve used it with Jack Daniel’s before as a modifier and in cocktails. It’s quite weird that years and years and years after recognizing these labels, they are still in my life today.
Susan: Now to this infamous first Jack and Coke. Every time I hear you interviewed it’s about this Jack and Coke and you had it because it was rock and roll.
Cam: Yeah, I know how naf that sounds, but you’ve got the image being 18 years old. You’re allowed to drink. Everyone goes out and in Scotland everyone has a specific type of beer here, the national lager. Then my friend came back from the bar. Not with that, but he came back with a Jack and Coke and I just remember going, wow, that’s bad ass, it’s just so different.
I went up and I ordered one and it’s been my drink ever since. I still go out and drink Jack and Coke today. It was my birthday, a couple of weeks ago, and I was out with my friends in London. I was drinking Jack and Coke all night and it’s still my drink. It doesn’t taste like Coke. It doesn’t taste like Jack. It tastes like a Jack and Coke. It’s not as gassy as a beer is or a mixer. It’s always been my go-to drink. I still love it. I think even back then, as an 18-year-old, young adolescent. It was still a statement. I didn’t know that it was whiskey back then. I just knew that it was Jack and it was a bit rebellious, let’s say. It was different to what everyone else of our similar age group was drinking.
Susan: Did you graduate from Jack and Coke to anything else or you kept drinking Jack and Coke even while you were starting to pursue a career in the business?
Cam: There was a long time, I suppose, in terms of bartending, and I was late to the bartending game. A lot of my peers in the industry started when they were 18. And you mentioned my colleague Tom Vernon earlier. I think he even started a lot earlier in bars and restaurants, behind the scenes, not actually serving it, but I was pretty late.
I was in retail sales a bit as my first job out of school and college. It took up year of my life in the UK. Then I went to Australia, as everyone was doing back then, and I wanted a job that I could do no matter where I was in the country. Bartending was the logical answer to that.It’s something that is a little bit weird but I was always fascinated by bartenders, whether that was watching Cheers as a kid, I don’t know, seeing Woody Harrelson polishing glasses with Ted Danson. I don’t know what it was, but there was always this romance to being a bartender.
I was very happy to do it. I started pouring pints in London before going off to Australia. That’s when a couple of influential people really encouraged me to get into cocktails. I was working in rock clubs, which were the perfect setting for my friend here (Jack Daniel’s). I was working in fancy cocktail bars, spit and sawdust bars, or pubs all over the country, but cocktails really interested me, when I got back to the UK.
Susan: You’re going way too fast. Hold on. When you were in Australia, did you ever think, this could be the thing that will be my life’s work.
Cam: Probably not.
Susan: Now, you’re going to hate me. I have another quote that you said that when you were in Australia, that’s when you started to make “fancy pants” cocktails, I’m using that quote.
Cam: “Fancy pants” or “arty farty.” Because I usually say arty farty.
Susan: No, no, it was definitely fancy pants. You didn’t go thinking this is going to be my life’s work? When did you start to create these fancy pants cocktails? Was that in Perth and was it then that you thought, okay, this is something that I could pursue?
Cam: Just rewinding back a little bit. When you asked if I thought this would be my life’s work. When I got into bartending, I fell in love with it. That’s when I realized that I really wanted to do that as a career. I thought you meant Jack Daniel’s.
Susan: Sorry, I meant bartending.
Cam: When I was in Perth, in Western Australia, I met people who are still some of my best friends today and who really encouraged me. They introduced me to the right people. I still remember the name of the bar. I have no idea if it’s still there, but it was called Niche bar. I remember being taken there, being introduced to Manhattans to Martinis, to Negronis, to Fizzies as well as mojitos and caipirinhas and Caipiroskas.
I fell in love – hook, line and sinker. Head over heels – just the different flavors, the different garnishes, different tastes. Even speaking about it now, I’m salivating. All I need to do, if I’m ever having a rough day is just remind myself of all these amazing things that I get to work with.
Susan: Did you think you were just going to stay in Australia or you were going to come back to the UK one day?
Cam: Well, the plan was to stay out in Australia. I also fell in love with Perth. It was busy and energetic when you wanted it to be. It was quiet and relaxing, whenever you were in the mood. There was something for whatever headspace you’re in. There were beautiful beaches and the bush was just outside of the city. You could go and explore wine country just below it. I thought I had it all.
Actually I was working in a bar, that I don’t think is there anymore, called Box Deli and the owner at the time knew that I wanted to stay, and we had spoken about sponsorship, but it fell through and it was a small business. Being responsible for this 21-year old backpacker, essentially as that’s what I was, I don’t know if he could really take on the financial burden of that. Unfortunately, I came home. I was very upset. I still remember my dad picking me up from Heathrow airport. Then I got into cocktails really seriously when I got back, and I knew it’s what I wanted to do.
Susan: Where were you? What part of the country?
Cam: Before I left for Australia, I had moved down to Brighton in England. It was the first place that I’ve lived that wasn’t central Scotland. I had never gone to Glasgow. I’d never go to Edinburgh and I went straight into Brighton which was, for a young Scottish man, it was completely wild and different. And there were lots of bars and there was cocktails and a party scene.
I made a lot of friends really quickly who are still, luckily, my friends today. They put up with my traveling and odd hours of work. They were very supportive. But yeah, I returned to Brighton.
Susan: Then you just started to learn as much as you could or work as much as you could in drinks. When did you start competing?
Cam: Okay. the first bar that I worked in on my return, this was just after the recession and a lot of bars were shutting down. A lot of businesses all over the UK were shutting down. It was quite a worrying time. I managed to get a part time job in a bar called Koba, which was a private member’s bar that had just opened its doors. They had their public bar and the other members’ area at the back. I got a job there. It had a cocktail list of about 90 different drinks. I had to learn them all. It was in at the deep end, but I learned so much there and I’ve just got such fond memories of going for my shifts there.
They asked me to be a duty manager, which just felt amazing to be able to do that so soon after coming back into the country and really getting into cocktails. They really taught me about cocktail competitions and gave me a lot of tips here and there. My first cocktail comp was for a vodka brand and it was the Brighton’s rising star and I very happily won that. Then after that, I caught the bug!
Susan: That must’ve been such a boost. I mean, were you expecting to win?
Cam: Absolutely not. No, not in Brighton. I think the rules were that you had to be bartending for less than two or three years, the new kid on the block. I did a drink called “The District 13” which I still think is a bad ass name – I love that. It was focusing on French flavors or French ingredients with an Asian vibe. I looked at ghettos around Paris. And in district 13, you had an Asian area that was actually really rough area. And you wouldn’t go there as a tourist, but you had all these markets.
I thought I got this – Asian influence and flavors. I’ve got these French ingredients. It has to be the impact, this District 13, I love that name. I still do love the story about how I came up with that. After I got the confidence of winning, which was just fantastic, such a good incentive for young bartenders to really give them confidence as it did with me.
There are a lot of other people there at the time. And that’s when I was poked with a stick by the rep of the time who I’m still friends with today. She still works for my company and she asked me to do the Jack Daniel’s Birthday Competition.
And that was in 2009. I got through to the finals. That’s really where my love for Jack Daniel’s began. I was still drinking Jack & Cokes after my shifts, but when I started really delving into the history and the heritage of the brand and realizing that it’s not just a whiskey, it’s not just a brand, it’s just this huge story.
You can imagine now we’re 150+, going from 1866, at Jack there are so many stories there and getting to choose one of those stories or model a cocktail around that really intrigued me.
Susan: Well, everything that I’ve read about you and every podcast I listened to, I do know that you love the story of the cocktail and the stories that each cocktail represents, as well as Jack Daniel’s whole story. Before we go into the Tennessee whiskey just yet, after you knew you won that competition for the Jack Daniel’s competition! Sorry, you were a finalist….
Cam: Yeah, I know I’m still very, very bitter about that. I still love the drink and still make the drink today. On that day, I’m putting it down to the conditions of the final competition. We had it up in Lynchburg, Tennessee on Barbecue Hill. It was absolutely frozen and the ice was poor quality. I shook the drink and it came out like a sludge rather than a chilled cocktail. Then again, I should have known these things, but I was still a new bartender at the time.
Susan: Look, you’re the UK Brand Ambassador, right. You’ve won.
Cam: Yeah, who won?
Susan: You won. Exactly. You won, but it was long time in between when you were finalist to when you became the brand ambassador. How did that progression happen? How were you asked or did you apply for it? How did you find yourself in this position?
Cam: Cocktail competitions are fantastic, not just for gaining valuable techniques and knowledge about spirits, cocktail culture, but it also introduces you to some key people in the drinks industry. And that’s exactly what happened with me. I met Nidal Ramini. We still work together today.
He has been one of the most influential people in my career, almost my spiritual advisor really, he guides me and tells me, have you thought about doing this? Try doing this to make your profile a little bit bigger. Who actually got me into working for Jack Daniel’s are two more people I’ll give a little shout out to – Craig Harper who used to will be a tactical trainer for, as it was back then, Bacardi Brown-Forman.
He invited me to come in and help him with a training. Also Leanne Ware – she just did these knowledge dumps with me and structured out my sessions and really taught me how to be a trainer. Without these three people, I wouldn’t have this job today. Great people to know and they’re still in the industry.
One more as well, Ian McLaren, who, wow, what he doesn’t know about whiskey and me just sitting there with a notepad writing, absolutely everything down from these guys. I was very, very lucky to have that.
Then a lot of this, why I think I’m still around today, is just the experience. I know the stories through and through. Every one of my sessions is different, because I’ve learned the stories over many years. I’ve been there a lot, so I can talk about what I want to talk about on that specific day. I think that says a lot. I’m making it my own training. Even though I’m talking about this product, I know what people want to share on that specific day. Does that make sense? I think I’ve got a bit flustered in my own head there.
Susan: No, I get it.
Cam: I’m going to join you in a drink, if that’s all right.
Susan: Of course, because you have been a bartender, you can talk and make a drink at the same time. Alright. I’ll let you make your drink. Why don’t we talk about Jack Daniel’s while you’re pouring it. My podcast and my site – they are really about the home bartender. Why don’t you give me the little spiel of why a home bartender should have a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in their cabinet. What is it about it? Give me your little ambassador spiel!
Cam: Here is why I am so proud to work for Jack. There is so much heritage. It was started by a real man, Jasper Newton Daniel. The distillery was established back in 1866 which is, if you’re good at maths, 150 odd years. I am not good at maths.
Cam: That sounds about right. I think whatever brand you pick these days; I think it has to mean something to you. And to me, I respect the fact that it was started by a real man and we’re still going today. We’re the biggest selling whiskey in the world. There’s no getting around that, but there’s a reason for that.
We’re consistent. We must be one of the most consistent whiskeys in the world, just due to our size. Like at any one time, there’s about 2.5 million barrels of Tennessee, of our Tennessee whiskey aging in the barrel house. Excuse me. I don’t know if you can hear that.
Susan: Yes we can! There goes the Coke.
Cam: I think you need to believe in the product. I mean, we are spoiled for choice these days on what we can drink. It doesn’t take a lot for a company to start a brand, to pluck a name out of the history books, and almost design a brand around the story that they’ve heard. I get a lot of comfort and I have a lot of respect for this brand that is still going since 1866. I’ll drink to that
Susan: Cheers, cheers. Tennessee whiskey. I think some people might be a little confused by that. There’s a lot of whiskies – there’s Scottish whisky, there’s Irish whiskey, there’s Japanese whiskey, then there’s bourbon. And then all of a sudden, there’s this Tennessee whiskey, it’s on the label. What does that exactly mean?
Cam: Well, that’s a fairly new category. It’s been recognized by the Tennessee state government. It is basically an offshoot of bourbon, but it follows even more rules and regulations to be classified as a Tennessee whiskey.
Now we’ve always called ourselves a Tennessee whiskey. I think there was even a letter from one of the old proprietors of the distillery, one of the Motlows. If memory serves me right, when we were putting the product or registering the product with the US. Basically like weights and measures or something like that. And he said, “Oh yes, well done. You’ve got a cracking bourbon there.” And Motlow actually wrote back to the government department and said, “Whoa, hang on a minute. We’re a Tennessee whiskey. And we’re proud of it. We’re not a bourbon. We make a different down here.”
I love that stubbornness about it, but it’s only in 2015 that it has been recognized as its own category. I’m tied into many of these arguments on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “Jack Daniel’s isn’t a Tennessee whiskey – it’s a bourbon.” This is how I see it as a proud Scot that also drinks Scottish whiskey. I grew up on the same road as a distillery that makes its whiskey in the Highlands and ages it in the Lowlands.
If you’re quite accepting that the Lowlands are different from the Highlands, getting right down onto that single border line, you should be quite acceptant and happy that there’s this new category forming that’s telling you exactly what is in the bottle before you buy that bottle, or before you pour it into your glass.
This is the wonderful thing about today. Yes, there’s so many products out there, but there’s so many categories and lists telling us what each of these bottles or categories is. In Scotland, you’ve got the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside, Campbelltown and Islay. In America, you’ve got rye whiskey, wheat whiskey, corn whiskey, bourbon, and Tennessee whiskey, to name a few.
There’s a lot more than that, but it’s telling us what’s in the bottle before we part with our money and buy that bottle and take it home.
Susan: Yes, it absolutely does make sense.
Cam: I think only good can come from it and everyone that is getting caught up on, “Oh, it’s just a bourbon.” Calling it a Tennessee whiskey, it’s doing you a favor by telling you more about the product. It has to be made in Tennessee and it has to be mellowed through charcoal. Those are the additional requirements. Other than that, it does follow all the same rules as a bourbon whiskey, which is the national spirit of America.
Susan: Yes. And of course the one I love. Tennessee whiskey and bourbon because of their 51%, at least, corn, which makes it much sweeter for me. I adore it. Now that isn’t the only thing that you make. You make lots of other things like Gentleman Jack, and even though technically, it’s not a whiskey, because you’re not supposed to add anything to it, one of my favorites, Tennessee Honey.
Cam: Yeah. Like the one I prepared for you earlier?
Susan: Yes. And I just saw a Tennessee Apple and a Tennessee Cinnamon. You have a lot of things! Tell me about Gentleman Jack?
Cam: Gentleman Jack was the world’s first double mellowed whiskey. When we started to innovate a lot more and try and expand our offering at the distillery, like all distilleries really do.
When you see a funny bottle of Scottish whiskey at an airport that’s only been made for duty-free, that’s been specially made for those travelers that are looking for something special. We only did this up until 1988. In ’88, Gentleman Jack was released and we were wondering what would happen if we did the Lincoln County process twice? To be a Tennessee whiskey, it mellows through sugar maple charcoal and, at Jack, it doesn’t have to be 10 foot, but yeah, Jack Daniel’s will mellow through 10 foot of sugar maple charcoal before it goes into the brand-new, charred oak barrel. They wondered what would happen if we put it through again, after it’s been aged.
It doesn’t go through an additional 10 foot. It goes through an additional 3 foot. What this does is it just rounds off those bigger, bolder oak flavors that the whiskey picks up from sitting in oak for x amount of years? Well, we know that it’s a minimum of four years because it doesn’t have an age statement on the barrel, and at Jack, we go up to about seven years old. Gentlemen Jack basically starts life as Old Number 7, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey, as I call it. Then it goes through that extra blessing, and it just smooths it. It basically takes that big oaky hit and softens it down.
It takes the oaky flavors away, or softens them and allows some of those sweeter notes, those lighter notes, and maybe a touch, more floral, minty, honey, and that sweet vanilla and it really puts it right in front of you.
Susan: Do you see it more as the sipping whiskey or also used in cocktails?
Cam: Well, here’s the thing about Gentleman Jack, as they say at the distillery with all the whiskeys, you can drink it any way you damn well please. And I love that coming from a whiskey family. I’ve been sitting in bars before and I’ve had a whiskey with ice in it and someone’s come up and had a go at me. To which I will not repeat, plus I’m being recorded, what I said to them, but, you can take it any way you damn well please.
There’s no pretentiousness about it. Gentleman Jack can be drunk neat. It is beautiful. I think it’s actually one of the most important whiskeys on the market, at the moment. We have split the Jack Daniel’s range into two flavor categories. We go laid back and mellow, and full and spicey and big and bold. Gentleman Jack is laid back and mellow and is not going to jump over the glass, wring your neck, and let you know that you’re drinking whiskey. It’s softer and lighter and a lot more refined. It’s a beautiful sipper. However, when you mix it in a cocktail, because it’s not jumping out and giving you all this flavor, it’s really going to work with the other ingredients that are in your cocktail.
You can use it in my favorite, favorite cocktail – a Mint Julep. And for me, at times, it’s the best whiskey to use in a Mint Julep. Yeah. When I go into a bar and order a Mint Julep, they know that I’m a whiskey guy. They go straight to the top shelf and they’ll go, “Which whiskey would you like, Cam?” I’m now definitely Gentleman Jack, because these bigger single barrel whiskeys are big and bold, and the flavor is going to overpower the mint. I know you’re still going to taste the mint in there, but, by mellowing the whiskey and taking away those big oaky flavors, you’re putting it on more of an even keel with the mint flavor that’s in a Mint Julep.
For your viewers at home, a Mint Julep is whiskey, a couple of teaspoons of sugar and about eight to mint leaves, and you just stir it in a pewter cup with crushed ice, and it’s the most delicate, beautiful, refreshing cocktail. And it’s just so simple, but it takes a bit of practice to make them.
Susan: Oh my God, it’s one of my favorite cocktails. And I will have to try with Gentleman Jack now. Talking about this, I was reading that as Brand Ambassador you said that you wanted to change people’s perceptions of Jack Daniel’s. And I was just wondering what you think the perceptions were? I come into every spirit with no preconceptions. I just like it, if it tastes good to me, but how do you think people have seen it maybe in the past and are now seeing it since you’ve been Brand Ambassador?
Cam: Yeah. Good question. I definitely feel that we’re not the only one to be a victim of our own success. We’re not the only spirit out there. It happens to so many of them. We get to a certain size and there’s, obviously me with my bartending past. I’ve been in circles before when people have said, “Oh no, Jack Daniel’s, it has no quality, it’s rubbish.” But why do they think that?
Because we’re the leading selling whiskey? There’s a reason for that. “Just that there’s no passion, there’s no craft.” I love reminding people that we actually go all the way back to 1866. We’ve only had seven master distillers in 154 years. I just did the maths in my head and that was such an easy sum to do. That’s embarrassing.
I think luckily the trade and bartenders are being a little bit more reasonable with this now. Gone are the days where you would go into a bar and say, I’ll have a Jack Daniel’s and the bartender went, “No, you don’t want that, You want this.” This is a lot better. It’s all about what the customer wants and if the customer recognizes the label and they are expecting this flavor, that matches perfectly with Coca Cola, then that’s what you should give them. I definitely feel that for a while it’s been a victim of its own success.
I love correcting people when they say that Jack Daniel’s is inferior to some of these. I always ask them. Why do you think that? I love correcting them in a polite way, of course, and saying, well, this isn’t actually true. We’ve still made every single drop in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We’ve only had seven master distillers making this whiskey in 154 years. We follow all the rules to call ourselves a Tennessee whiskey, which has even more rules than a bourbon.
Susan: And what I do love is that you are always creating new things. I see that as a great thing. I was so happy when I went to your website a little earlier and I saw that there was Jack Daniel’s Apple. I was like, oh my God, that because one of my favorite drinks is like an Apple bourbon smash or an Apple Tennessee whiskey smash. Now you’ve made it even easier to make something like that.
Cam: The best way that the flavors have ever been described to me was by Jeff Arnett, our master distiller. He said that he was walking down the road in LA. He travels a lot throughout the country promoting Jack Daniel’s whiskey, a bit of a brand ambassador himself and he bumped into a couple of guys wearing Jack Daniel’s T-shirts a bit like yourself. And he said, “Oh, I make this stuff. What of our range is your favorite? Do you like the Gentleman Jack? Do you like the Tennessee whiskey old number seven, or do you like the single barrel?” And they said to them, “Well, we don’t actually like whiskey. We just think the brand is pretty cool.”
The flavors are taking Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey, and mixing it with a liqueur and/or honey, or cinnamon for Tennessee Fire, or an apple liqueur for the Tennessee Apple. And it really softens that big blow of whiskey. It’s sweetening it up.
It’s putting a flavor in there that people like. It allows them to drink these products and call themselves a Jack Daniel’s drinker. We know that they’re not really, they’re drinking a liqueur, but really they are. There’s still allows them to be part of the brand. And I just think that’s so cool.
I think some whiskey aficionados out there are thinking what’s going on with all these flavors. Well, if you don’t like them and you’re a whiskey fan, keep to the whiskey, that’s fine.
Cam: These are a bit of fun, they taste fantastic, and they’re big brands in their own right now as well.
Susan: Yeah, I can attest to it. I was at Grillstock, there was one in London once, it’s a grill themed festival. And that was when I had the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and lemonade together. I have been drinking it ever since. And that must be six years ago. I think it’s one best drinks in the world. I don’t have to mix the Jack Daniel’s and the honey together by myself. It’s already in there. But now just to finish off, coming back to the stories.
And I know when I was listening to a podcast that you did before, and you were talking about competing that you love to hear the stories. What would you think is one of your favorite stories that you’ve had while being a brand ambassador either about the spirit or you teaching?
Cam: That is a good question. And that put me on the spot. I have had such a varied career with Jack Daniel’s so far. It’s taught me much about this and about that. Being a brand ambassador is not just about training customers like yourself or training bartenders. There’s so much more to it, whether it’s organizing cocktail events or drinks trainings. I’ve been so lucky. I’ve been with the company for a while off and on, but starting off part-time and coming into full-time.
I’ve been working with the brand for about 10 years now. Throughout that time, I was lucky enough to go to the 150th celebration, to celebrate 150 years from the establishment date which was just wild. It was so good, with Jack Daniel’s bars in the parking lot. We had a stage up there with local bands playing, and that was just something that I will remember until I am a lot older. That’s really one of them that stands out.
I suppose even before that, even before I worked with the brand, it was getting to go to Lynchburg, Tennessee and compete to be the Jack Daniel’s birthday cocktail competition winner, of which I lost, but I was still a finalist. Those are two amazing moments that have happened to me. Bringing it into more recent times, our big advocacy competition that we’ve got going is Tennessee Calling. Unfortunately, it’s taken a bit of a change this year due to the current pandemic, but I’m sure it will come back stronger than ever.
I really love giving modern day bartenders this trip of a lifetime. Nothing competes to getting on that plane, arriving in Nashville, Tennessee, Music City and drinking Jack and Cokes or Jack on the rocks.
And Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, some amazing singers are up there, and then road tripping down to Lynchburg, which is about an hour and a half, two hours away. And just the whole thing. I’m lucky to be able to do that as a career. E
very day for me is different and rewarding. That’s definitely one that stands out in modern day is Tennessee Calling, being a part of that. Giving bartenders today a trip of a lifetime. This is something that will always remember and always cherish.
Susan: Oh, I wish I could get on a plane and get there right now.
Cam: Me too.
Susan: Thank you much for joining me. Cheers again with our drinks. We’ll see you in the bar or in Lynchburg.
Cam: Absolutely. Well, hopefully where I like to travel to Lynchburg, we’ll have to meet there sometime, and I’ll show you around and I’ll take you down to the distillery.
Susan: Oh, I can’t wait. Alright, thanks much.
Cam: Thank you so much for having me.
Susan: I always ask my guest two questions:
*Their top tips for the home bartender:
Cam: Get lots and lots of ice. You need good ice. Every time I’ve gone to a house party or a barbecue, I’ve been asked to make a cocktail to serve, even a wedding or something like that. And then I get one bag of supermarket ice and I’m expected to serve loads of people. If you’re making cocktails at home, try and get as good quality ice as you can and get double whatever you think that you’re going to need. That’s my top tip.
*If they could be drinking anywhere right now, where would it be?
Cam: I think you think I’m going to say Lynchburg, Tennessee. But you know what? This has been the first time that I’ve been able to get out of London or get out of near Brighton where I live. I’m currently up at my mom’s house in Scotland and I love being back up home, so RIGHT HERE, with you! Mom’s short of Julep cups at the moment, so I can’t make a Mint Julep, so I’ve got a Jack and Coke right here!