19-year old scoops whisky scholarship1st April, 2014 by Gabriel Savage
A 19-year-old UK whisky enthusiast has won the inaugural Ian Murray Scholarship, created by William Grant & Sons in honour of a former employee who passed away last year.
Jerome Marks-Gardener from the West Midlands impressed the judging panel with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the spirits industry, a passion he developed while watching his father present whisky tastings at the family’s wine and spirit retail business Nickolls & Perks.
The scholarship, which was set up earlier this year, will allow Marks-Gardener to develop his knowledge through the WSET Level 1 and 2 qualifications, as well as a presentation skills course and visit to one of the William Grant & Sons distilleries.
“Jerome Marks-Gardener is a deserving winner who I know has the passion to take full advantage of this opportunity,” said Kirsten Grant Meikle, fifth generation Grant family member, who was part of the scholarship’s judging panel.
“Coming from a family business himself, I hope that Jerome will relate to our own family business, and I know Ian Murray would be proud to have such a bright spark following in his footsteps.”
Describing himself as “thrilled” by the news, Marks-Gardener said: “I can’t thank William Grant & Sons and Ian’s family enough for their decision. Working for my family business, Nickolls & Perks, I have enjoyed learning about the versatility of spirits and the various whiskies that Scotland and the rest of the world has to offer.”
He also highlighted the inspirational example set by Ian Murray, who worked closely with William Grant during his time with First Drinks and then his own consultancy Spirited Solutions.
“His ability to hold the attention of a crowd was exceptional and he is someone I truly wish to emulate,” said Marks-Gardener. “In the future I hope to hold tastings of my own, and through the scholarship I will have the chance to excel in skills that are invaluable to our trade. I can’t wait to dive into this incredible opportunity.”