Danny Dyer on his Love for Whisky, Grant's, Bartending and Traveling Through East Africa

Danny lights up when he talks about whisky. When he got his first job at a distillery in Scotland, at the age of 18, his boss sat him down and gave him a reintroduction on how to enjoy the spirit. What followed was the beginning of a rich journey where he continues to fall in love with the history, the craft and lastly the taste of whiskies like Grant's. Over 10 years later the most valuable advice he has for whisky drinkers is; “Take time with it. When enjoying a drink like Grant’s, remember it took at least 3 years to make.”

How do you recover from nights such as last night- the launch of the new grants bottle that coincided with your birthday?

Two things. A shower and some coffee. I take a long shower, followed by some coffee and I feel energised and ready to go.

Take us through last night’s experience?

Last night has to be the best unveiling of the five or six I have been a part of in the last 11 months. So hype. As soon as I arrived in Nairobi there’s been this energy around the people. Getting to the event and seeing the set up was so cool. One of my favourite moments was the pomp and glamour of the actual unveil. It was just a beautiful moment.

Did you get any feed back from the guests?

Yes. Most people I talked to appreciated that it’s still Grant’s but with a better, prouder and stronger feel.

Describe for us this the new look?

The new bottle is an improved version of the old one. We have maintained the triangular shape but the glass is thicker and more secure. The word “GRANT’S” stands out more now. The Shield is new. The gold, white and burgundy colours are the same. The bottle holds on to our heritage by showing the year William Grants built the distillery, 1867, the motto STANDFAST, and the clan emblem.

What goes in to the redesign process?

It is a long process. I just have the easy bit of presenting and talking about it. Because Grants is a family business; the family is also involved in maintaining the values of the brand.

First impressions of Nairobi?
Nairobi parties hard. And there is this fun and crazy energy that surround the city and its people.

How was Dar es Salam?

I like that it’s a lot cooler here than in Dar. Dar is quite hot and humid and nothing like the Scottish weather I am used to back home. The people are also a lot more laid back.

Anything that shocked you in both cities?

In Dar, one night at Forty Forty we were hanging out, making and having cocktails when all of a sudden I notice everyone has moved to one side of the room. Here I was thinking maybe a fire alarm had gone off but turns out people had gone to queue for food. In Scotland most people drink and then go grab a bite as they go home. Here, I was amazed by how long people can stay out. You guys just don’t stop.

What’s your favourite whisky cocktail?

I am a big fan of the old fashioned. It is a simple, but, in my opinion one of the best tasting cocktails. The sugar and the bitters bring out the flavours of the whisky.

What are some other cocktails that have been a hit in countries you have visited?

In Tanzania, for example, the Grant’s Espresso Martini was a hit. Although this is a vodka based cocktail, the vodka takes a back sit to the coffee liqueur or coffee. With Grant’s the coffee takes on the sweet fruity note adding extra warmth.

What’s one thing you have learnt through your love for whisky?

Everyone has a story on whisky, so be a good listener. A lot of what I have learnt came from going to bars and talking to other whisky drinkers.

Let’s talk about Grants…

The family has been making it for over 100 years using a unique process. The three types of casks (triple wood) used give the whisky 60% of its flavour. The first cask is the virgin American oak gives it the dark red colour and that spice, then there are the refill bourbon casks where they breath into each other giving it the sweetness. The last cask used are previously used to make both bourbon and whisky. The whole process makes Grant’s have this smooth, light and candy flavour.

What else makes the production of Grant’s stand out?

The fact that we have our own coopers, team and master blender (Brian Kinsman) all in one roof. It’s also one of the most innovative family owned companies in the industry. Our previous blender was the first person to use beer and port in the maturing process. All this makes me really proud to represent the brand.

Do you remember your bartending days fondly?

Yes! I learnt a lot about people. To be a bartender you have to be a people person. You have to be fun and enjoy spending time with people. It also teaches you to be patient, understanding and diplomatic especially when dealing with drunk people. I also had strong bonds with the people I worked with who were like family.

What’s your favourite bar back home?

There’s a bar in Edinburgh called Uisce Beatha that basically means whisky in the old Scottish dialect. They have a collection of hundreds of whiskies from all over the world.

How do you deal with the pressures of the job?

I struggle with the traveling and planes. To relax I love taking naps. Naps are key. Anytime I get a break in between a charged day I will take an hour nap to refresh. I also use this this app in the UK called “Borrow my Dog” to dog sit other people’s dogs.

How was J’s?

J’s was very energetic. I love it.

You took a road trip from Arusha to Nairobi? How was it?

I loved the scenery and the colourful Maasai people on the way.

You were looking quite dapper last night …

Yeah I love suits and shoes! I believe in giving a good first impression.


More from the Unveil-- New ‘Grant’s Whisky Triple Wood’ Unveiled By Daniel Dyer In Nairobi