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Gentleman’s year – meet David Mwangi Mutunga

David Mwangi Mutunga evolved from a fund manager to become Jack Daniel’s Brand Ambassador. He takes us through his playbook

What does it mean to be a Gentleman Jack and what does it entail?

Over and above being the face of the brand, the key goal is to create awareness. And while we are believers that a good thing should sell itself, we want guys who enjoy Jack Daniels to know our other brands — more premium, with the same consistent taste, a little bit more refined to make them smoother and complex in character.

We’ll do that through consumer education. One of my main agendas is to create awareness about more brands such as Single Barrel Select and Gentleman Jack. We feel that Old No 7 is well known by the local market.

We also have some flavoured whiskys, take Tennessee Honey, which has been introduced in the market already. In the first quarter of next year, we want to introduce Tennessee Fire. It’s the Old No 7 fused with cinnamon flavours.

We want to market it as a shooter — it’s perfect for starting off the party.

What’s the biggest misconception that has come with your title?

A lot of people work under the assumption that it’s all play with a load of booze. They’re wrong about two things: It’s a lot of work. As a brand ambassador, the position is more of an educative role, where you educate the consumer. The second, ironically, is the booze. If anything, you become a more responsible drinker. It teaches you respect for the craft that goes into making the whisky.

Did you ever think you’d build a career talking about booze?

I never saw myself as a brand ambassador for an alcoholic brand. However, I’ve enjoyed the drink for quite sometime. For about six years, I’ve been drinking JD consistently.

I was in marketing for about the same period of time, so when I came across the opportunity to work as the brand ambassador, it seemed like a good platform to showcase my marketing abilities and given that it was associated with a drink I enjoy, it was a win-win. I decided to go for it and by good fortune, I got the position, and here we are!

Were you always a whisky man?

To be honest, when I started drinking, I was more of a vodka guy. I got into whisky around 2009 and I was sold. Once you enjoy that palate of whisky, then you can never go back. If you gave me vodka today, either I would wake up like a dead man or something would just go wrong.

So, how do you take your whisky?

Depends on the time of day, place and mood. A lot of the time though, I’ll either have it dry, on the rocks or with water (it opens up the whisky). Over the holidays, people tend to overindulge with the bottle.

Any hangover cures you’ve tried and tested?

Hangovers don’t have a magic fix. The only hangover cure I know is drinking responsibly, pace yourself with water and eat a hearty meal before a night out.

What brand from your portfolio would you recommend to someone green to whisky?

Without a doubt Gentleman Jack. It’s charcoal-mellowed twice, before and after the ageing process, making it exhibit impressive complexity and flavour. It also has exceptional smoothness, not to mention, it is perfectly balanced.

What was it like touring Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg Tennesse?

It was surreal, a journey of many firsts.

Is there such a thing as a bad whisky?

No. As you become a seasoned drinker, your palate becomes more refined and as such, you get a taste for more premium whiskys.

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