Gerry O'Donnell, The Edrington Group

Interview with Gerry O'Donnell, The Edrington Group

Gerry O'Donnell, The Edrington Group

What’s your golden rule?

Always add plenty of ice! The ice should act like a battery of coldness and not melt before you get back from the bar to your seat.

Who has been your biggest influence?

Two teachers, Willie McLaughlin and John Russell, taught me how to debate. With their coaching I was able to speak confidently in public and avoid becoming a shy accountant!

What is your most hated business expression?

I don’t hate any of them. Some of them make me smirk, like “paradigm shift”, a pompous phrase that means a very big change. I’m not a fan of “variant”; it renders the emotion out of marketing and makes everything sound like a car part.

What’s the smartest business idea you ever had?

Early in my career at Matthew Gloag I ran a workshop on Orkney that recommended making the aged stocks of Highland Park available for sale. The aged whiskies of Highland Park are now a valuable part of our portfolio and Highland Park 18 years old is a multiple winner of the “Best Spirit in the World” accolade.

Which leader do you admire and why?

Bill Clinton. I regularly re-read his 2001 Dimbleby lecture “The Struggle for the soul of the 21st century” as it’s the sharpest take on how to save the planet from itself and one of the finest pieces of oratory I’ve ever heard. I’m certain that history will be kind to Clinton . He laid the foundations for health care reform and fixed the USA budget deficit. We could do with a few like him right now.

What’s your favourite word?

“Budget” – no, just kidding! It’s “Innervigoration”. When I was working on a famous gin brand the creatives couldn’t find a word to describe the mental and physical refreshment of a gin & tonic, so they invented one!

Tell us a secret

I have a Portuguese national insurance number! Obrigado.

We’re looking to profile all our members here, so please do email Will to get involved if we haven’t yet been in touch.