The Remarkable Podcast
Ask Drew Mayville about his ‘why’, and his answer is that it’s the ‘wow’. The reason he has devoted more than 40 years of his life to the creation and blending of whiskey is quite simply, he says, because he wants “to wow” and to excite those who are lucky enough taste the results. Drew Mayville joined Sazerac at its Buffalo Trace Distillery location in 2004 as Master Blender and Director of Quality. Playing a crucial role in developing or overseeing all of the award-winning products produced at Buffalo Trace, he has also had a hand in many of the other highly acclaimed spirit categories from Sazerac. An active promoter and educator within the sector, it’s safe to say Drew’s mission is to alert people to – and educate people about – the magic of the world’s finest spirits.
Drew, a native Canadian, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He is a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality and has been certified as an ASQ Quality Engineer since 1987. Having this scientific background has certainly informed his work ever since, even if the products he’s engineering might be very different these days. “Even at that young age, I was always looking at how to tinker with things,” he says. It was while at Seagram’s – where he spent 23 happy years – that Drew really honed his craft. His progressive experience encompassed all areas of manufacturing, including the Distillery, Quality, Bottling, Packaging QA and Specifications, Blending, and Technical Services for North America. Drew was the last Master Blender to serve under the Seagram dynasty.
His move to Buffalo Trace was, he remembers, “like an awakening”. Not only was it his role to ensure consistency, something that is hugely important to such a sizeable label. “But at the same time, we were allowed to explore and to experiment.”
The freedom to create, and to be bold while doing so, was an epiphany. “We are unafraid, and encouraged to try things because we want to make better products,” he says. “We want to make better whiskeys and I’ve never experienced that in my career anywhere else, not even close.” Many people don’t realise that all whiskeys are blended, except for single barrels, explains Drew. “Whatever you want to call it, all whiskeys are mingled, married or blended. The innovation piece was – and is still – really exciting to somebody like myself, especially after being in the industry for so long.”
Drew joined The Last Drop Assembly in 2020, and swiftly masterminded his first signature release, No. 28, a perfect expression of his expertise and his talent for blending. A high-proof blend of aged straight bourbon and rye whiskeys, uncut and unfiltered to maximise its flavour, it is made using the liquid that Drew had been carefully stowing away since joining the Buffalo Trace Distillery team two decades ago. “I believe that this group, The Assembly, is blurring those lines, and we’re trying different things.” By choosing, blending, testing and retesting each remarkable component, he has been able to make a masterpiece – and we don’t use that word casually.
“It was a long process, and took many different iterations to arrive at the final product. And so we’re only going to make a few bottles because it is so rare and the whiskeys are whiskeys that will never be produced again. The tastes will never be replicable ever.”
We can but hope then, that having done it once, he’ll be able to do it again. With, as ever, the ‘wow’ in mind, Drew continues to push the boundaries of his craft – there is no finish line when it comes to the perfect whisky blend, the best can always be bettered.
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