For as long as I remember, My Father was always so passionate about wine. The quality, the experience and of course Mum and Dad’s famous food and wine evenings held at home. I was inspired to want to learn more about wine and straight from school found myself working for Liquor retail. My first retail job in NZ was with Liquor King retail as an assistant manager for their flagship store Greenlane wines & Spirits. Wine and beer and spirits were in their infancy back in the late 90’s. I then spent a lot time working within liquor corporate with companies such as Pernod Ricard, which was the number 1 spirit company in the world. I gained a lot experience and fell in love with the stories and history about premium spirit brands from all over the world.
Most of my working life has now been at FWD Co. In 2013, I introduced spirits and craft beer to our offerings and both categories are now securely established within FWD Co. The reason for the growth is that we also taste and rate all new products and we tell stories and create experiences. The massive growth in Gin for example also leads to tasting and recommending the right tonics. It keeps me very busy being on both the beer and spirits panels, but I love all the creative, flavours and new experiences that both spirits and craft beer delivers.
Ever since I was old enough, I have had a passionate interest in fine wine, craft beer and craft spirits. I was the inquisitive teenager always having a little sip to discover what my parents, grandparents and family friends were imbibing, especially at family gatherings and celebrations, when the best wine, beer and Whiskey appeared. I can still remember being taken to the famous Bushmills whiskey distillery in County Antrim, Northern Ireland (the country and county of my birth) and being fascinated by the fact that it was the oldest in the world and one of the very best. This fired my passionate interest in all thing’s whiskey, especially my love of Irish/Scottish whiskey history and tradition, which still burns brightly to this very day.
Emigrating to NZ with my family in 1982 had a profound effect upon my knowledge, exploration and appreciation of NZ and Australian wine, beer and spirits, which continues to this day. Travels back to London and Europe, with jobs with employers like Harrods and other boutique retailers, honed my skills further. By the time that I came back to NZ and studying for a BA Hons/ MA Hons at Auckland University, I was working part time in various boutique wine shops in Auckland. Under their careful training and tasting programmes my knowledge of International and NZ wine, beer and spirits blossomed.
Since then I have been a successful, manager/buyer for various boutique liquor companies in Auckland, worked for many years in Duty Free shopping and FMCG, eventually joining FWD Co and becoming their spirits ambassador/buyer. As part of our extensive and very knowledgeable tasting panel, I am still tasting and evaluating fine wine, craft beer and craft spirits on a weekly basis, so that we can offer our shoppers only the very best products at the very best prices, and it is a pleasure to do so. Slainte. Michael.