Travel: Global archive immersion

Travel: Global archive immersion

In this issue, Jacqui Seargeant, John Dewar & Sons global heritage manager, shares her top travel tips and tales
Joe Bates

20 June 2022

Publication: Issue 171

In our regular column, leading whisky industry figures reveal their travel hacks and talk about their most memorable travel experiences. In this issue we quiz John Dewar & Sons Ltd. global heritage manager Jacqui Seargeant, somebody who loves nothing more than getting off the beaten tourist track.

What have been the most memorable and interesting countries and places that your work has taken you?
Probably my favourites are the actual global archive sites, which I visit approximately once a year, typically just to catch up on different projects. The French one is in the north of France at the Bénédictine Palais, on the north coast of Normandy, it’s an absolutely gorgeous location. It’s got quite British weather so I feel at home there. It’s usually raining but the French food and the white chalk cliffs on the seafront make it a gorgeous place to go. The Martini archive in Pessione, just a few miles from Turin, which is where we make Martini vermouth, is another favourite. We’ve got a brand visitor centre there called Casa Martini and a big wine museum. We have more than 2,000 items in the museum. It’s huge and I love going there. Turin is also just an amazing place to walk around. I usually have a bit of time to myself so I can explore the streets. The city has got some phenomenal museums as well. The other archive I normally go to is our Bacardi archive in Miami. I tend to go for a couple of weeks and I love the massive difference in culture and diet, walking on Miami Beach and visiting the Vizcaya Museum. Miami has some lovely heritage and an art district. I’m a bit of an amateur artist so when I travel I take my paints and inks with me.

When travel is possible, what whiskies and other spirits do you like to buy in duty free when travelling overseas?
I guess what duty free is really good for is special editions, travel sizes and gifting options. I’m usually looking for something that I can’t necessarily get in the supermarket or closer to home. The last thing I bought when I was travelling was the Aberfeldy Gold Tin, which won a travel retail award. I bought that for my brother’s 50th birthday.

What’s your favourite airport and why is this?
I’d have to say London Heathrow Terminal 5 because I do pass through it quite a lot. Flying from Glasgow, you often have to pass through it to fly on to somewhere else. I like T5 because it has a bright and spacious feel to it. I obviously love the World of Whiskies shop there too. We did some training with the World of Whiskies staff a few years ago and they are incredibly knowledgeable on their subject.

Tommy Dewar was famous for his aphorisms (‘Dewarisms’) and loved to travel. Did he have any Dewarisms about travel?
The one that comes to mind is ‘Experience is what you get when you are looking for something else’. I felt that one summed up how I feel about travel, in that the unexpected things that happen when you travel you remember. You go on holiday but the holiday starts with the travel. The adventure starts here.

If your flight was delayed, who would you most like to share a dram with in an airport bar?
As an archivist I mostly work with dead people and sometimes you forget that you can’t pick up a phone and give them a call. So bearing that in mind, John Dewar would be the one. He was the founder of John Dewar & Sons and died in 1880. A lot of his records were thrown away in the early 1900s. They recorded the clear out, which is very frustrating. I’ve got so many questions for him.

If you had 24 hours to spare, what city in the world do you most like to be able to explore?
Tokyo is the one for me because I have never been to Japan and I have always wanted to go. I am interested in the culture and we’ve recently had a lot of visitors from Japan because Dewar’s has been doing really well with the Dewar’s Original Highball. I was researching Tommy Dewar and it was said he invented the Highball in the 1890s when he was visiting New York. We actually trademarked it to John Dewar & Sons in 1902. It was a bit of quirky history that we managed to discover.

You’ve been shipwrecked on a desert island. What bottle of whisky would you like to find washed up with you on the shore?
Tommy Dewar actually threw messages in bottles off the ships he travelled on when he was doing his global tour in the 1890s to set up our export markets; one of them was found. The letter in the bottle said that whoever found it should send it back to the office in Scotland and they would be given some free whisky. Somebody found the bottle in the Philippines and got their free whisky. We’ve got that letter in the archive. As for me, I’d go for an Aberfeldy 12 Years Old. It’s the whisky I keep coming back to and I’d be delighted as it would bring back special memories, while transporting me to Aberfeldy.

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