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EWA Alumni: Elaine Newton-Bruzza

EWA Alumni: Elaine Newton-Bruzza

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Elaine Newton-Bruzza has recently finished her doctorate in Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. We caught up with her to find out more…

How did you discover whisky?

I first fell in love with Scotland and then with whisky and I joined the Edinburgh University’s Water of Life Society (WOLS) early on—one of the best decisions I ever made! I’ve learned so much from the tastings and have been able to see a lot of Scotland and tour some incredible distilleries on our annual trips. I find the history, science, and art of whisky incredibly fascinating.

What attracted you to the Certificate in Scotch Whisky?

I thought it would be a great way to solidify and build on my limited knowledge of whisky. I found out about EWA and the course at the WOLS tasting event presented by Jenny Karlsson and it sounded like a great way to get started.

What aspects of the course did you find most enjoyable?

First, since this was an online course, I really liked being able to work through it at my own pace and to be able to go back and review items I wasn’t clear about. Secondly, I’m a former teacher, and from a professional standpoint I was really impressed by the presentation of the content – the course has amazing interactive graphics and high-quality media. I had a lot of fun with creating different kinds of pot stills in the section on reflux!

Has the course changed the way you think about whisky, either personally or professionally?

The more I learn about whisky, the more I’m fascinated by the sheer artistry that goes into its making.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into the industry?

I’m the one who needs that advice! In 2018, I presented a “Women and Whisky”themed tasting at WoLS to celebrate International Women’s Day and the event was so successful that I was asked to repeat it the next year. For now, I’m in “limbo” as far as “what I do” goes – I’m looking for a teaching position at university level, but I’m beginning to realise that I’d really rather be working in the whisky industry in some capacity.

Whisky wisdom: quick fire questions

First whisky you ever tasted?
Dalwhinnie, no idea which one – whatever is most common in the pubs.

Best whisky you have ever tasted?
Laphroaig 25 year old.

Who is your ‘whisky hero’?   
I’d have to say Helen Cumming. Any woman who could operate an illegal distillery and fool the excise men by serving them tea and putting them up for the night all while she was warning the neighbours, and who then managed to turn it into a successful, legitimate business, has got to have been a formidable woman.

What person or people, dead or alive, would you most like to conduct a whisky tasting for?   
My friends from Portland.

Favourite distillery to visit?  

Ultimate bottling for your collection?
Laphroaig 25 year old cask strength – all to myself! (I previously split a bottle with friends.)

Favourite non-whisky drink?  
Patrón Silver tequila, neat.

Favourite whisky and food pairing?
Whisky and cheese – something sherried with something sharp and flavourful.

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