My first job was in whiskey, my dad loved scotch and on Sunday mornings when I was seven or eight I would get a rupee or two to dust my dad’s desk including his amazing collection of whiskeys and cognac . I’ve also always had a nose – when I was growing up my friends would put pencils under my nose and I could tell what brand of pencil it was. I was coming home from school and as soon as I walked through the door, I realized what my mother had prepared for lunch.
On December 31, 2022, Dhavall Gandhi, one of the world’s most celebrated whiskey makers, stepped down as Master Blender and Director of Whiskey and Spirits Operations for The Lakes Distillery, closing the curtains on not just a important five-year chapter for the Cumbrian distillery but English whiskey in general.
The next day, Dhavall Gandhi Whiskey was officially born, a self-proclaimed project as “a private bank for the world of whiskey consulting” and the final step in a career dedicated to creative freedom.
“If I were to distill my brains and skills and do what I think is really good, that would be what I’m doing now,” Gandhi said.
After a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance and economics in the United States, Gandhi worked as a consultant at Ernst & Young before a realization on the steps of a Kentucky distillery changed his course.
“At Ernst & Young I missed using my hands and my mind, it was intellectually driven, but Microsoft Excel was my best friend,” he says.
“We were in Kentucky for a customer engagement and decided to take a distillery tour. It was there, at Maker’s Mark, that I realized that what I wanted to do in my life was make whisky. Leaving behind the high-paying world of management consulting, Gandhi and his wife packed their bags and moved to Scotland and earned a postgraduate degree in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University.
“After graduating, I worked at Heineken, which was previously Scottish Newcastle, as technical manager for the Western Europe area. I learned a lot about operations there, from managing a 16 million hectoliter brewery to understanding yeast and fermentation.
Then came the opportunity for The Macallan to fulfill his ambition of becoming a whiskey blender.
“With Macallan I was able to go much, much further into blending and maturing and really understand how to understand sherry casks. I also admired Macallan for his way of thinking. There are many amazing whiskeys out there, but it is the brand that is synonymous with luxury.
During his tenure at The Macallan, Gandhi became one of whiskey’s rising stars, a new breed of cerebral whiskey scientist working for the most exclusive brand in the category. It raised some eyebrows when, in 2016, Gandhi joined a then little-known distillery across the border in England.