Rebecca Jago puts her involvement in the drinks business down to good fortune. Her father, Tom Jago, spent almost his entire career in the industry, which gave her exposure to and interest in it. Early in her career she worked for a design agency that had clients including Chivas Brothers, where her father was working. Tom founded premium spirits company The Last Drop Distillers with James Espey in 2008. Rebecca initially had a small role with the business, helping in label design and artwork. When James’ daughter Beanie returned to the UK after a stay in Hong Kong, she and Rebecca asked their fathers to increase their involvement. In 2016, Rebecca helped facilitate the sale of The Last Drop to US drinks group Sazerac. She is now The Last Drop’s managing director.
18 Years Old
James [Espey], in his last big corporate role as CEO, asked my father – who was formally retired – to come in and do some consulting. One of the projects they worked on was the development of Chivas Regal 18 Years Old. Chivas only had [a] 12-year-old, and the story goes that it became evident that Chivas needed a more premium product. There was reluctance to have it created, but James went ahead... And of course, it’s a really beautiful whisky. The man who created the blend was Colin Scott, who is now our master blender (and a member of The Assembly). We’ve shared it many times together and I know it’s his desert island dram, too.
The Last Drop
The Above-Average 30 Year Old
Staying with Scotch whisky, I’m going to talk a bit about the Distillers One of One Auction. In 2021, which was the inaugural auction, we were a donor. We felt to stay true to the industry and what we do ourselves, the best [lot] we could offer is the opportunity for someone to create their own blend… It was won by two people from California. They came up to Scotland last September and Colin and I sat down with them for five hours and he told them that they could create anything they wanted. Colin gave them seven bottles of whisky and it was the most magical day. They kindly gave me a bottle [of the blend they created].
Experience No. 10
I love [Woven’s] attitude, and I love that they are set up in the heart of the old whisky industry. I went to visit them, and [co-founder] Peter Allison sat me down and we tasted through all the releases together. I could have chosen any of them, but I’ve chosen Woven Whisky No. 10 because they are using quite a lot of old grain. I love grain whisky; I think it’s very underappreciated. I love the fact that it’s got this balance of old grain and young peated single malt plus some sherry influence. It’s a really nice expression.
American Oak Ex Tawny
I think there are quite a lot of links between Scotch whisky and the approach to whisky making in Tasmania... I was introduced to [Sullivans Cove] by a colleague and I have spent many happy hours on Zoom with them doing tastings, and in particular with Heather Tillott who I think is a genius. I have chosen the core release which is the American Oak Ex Tawny. I love this because it really speaks as to what they were trying to do as a business. It has this lovely sort of rich sweetness plus… vanilla. I think it’s a masterful release.
The Last Drop
Signature Blend by Louise McGuane
I mentioned The Assembly earlier, which features Colin Scott... Each year we ask a member of The Assembly to create something especially for us. The first was Colin’s 50-year-old. The second was Drew [Mayville]’s. In a couple of months, Louise’s signature 31-year-old will release… This blend of malts from 1991 were vatted together in an ex-oloroso sherry butt for nearly a year, and it’s just sublime. It’s got this really brilliant balance, with raisin and chocolate depth. I think it’s superb.
There is this machine we have called Phoebe. It is a decanter that pours the perfect dram. The Phoebe was designed for our 10th anniversary in 2018. The original version came when my father joked that in 60-plus years of marriage, my mother had never poured him a glass of whisky, so he had to invent something to do it for him. He called it Penelope, after my mother. [This one] is called Phoebe, after my daughter.