Ervin Trykowski Is The Millennial Man Fronting The 180-Year-Old Whisky Maker, Singleton
Called to the bar.
“It’s a vocation. Word is getting out that it is actually a profession that gets you out in the world and lets you live the life you want. That’s very uplifting,” says Ervin Trykowski, The Singleton’s first-ever global ambassador, and pioneer in his own right.
Trykowski, 30, is elfin; the epitome of joviality and youthful vigour, with a worldliness that belies mere age. You could say it comes from being a bartending prodigy and his years as a discreet keeper of knowledge.
He formed the first UK bartender community with the Glasgow Bartenders Club over eight years ago. Initial membership, 12; current membership, “Ten thousand of us, and every city has its own! This was really ahead of the curve. It was important, then and now, for bartenders to have a place to get together, talk and learn … a place for bartenders who want to progress.”
Yes, he’s heard stories enough for novels and, more prospectively, the tabloids, “a few really famous people … some really funny moments, memorable all, but “we don’t serve and tell!”
The bartender offers him or herself in aid of others; this is the original meaning of service valued in many cultures, and the pub is a people’s sanctuary.
Trykowski puts the ethos thus: “Bartenders the world over hold a sense of respect for each other unanimously. When we meet another bartender, it’s not spoken, nor is there a written rulebook on it, but we hold each other in high regard. Is there a specific language we speak? No, but there is an understanding; a kinship and a kind of attitude that we just acknowledge, and accord each other - in humility.”
What do bartenders know that the less observant person does not?
“The best bartenders know what you want to drink before you do; [they] can tell your mood and are an amazing judge of character. But there’s a balance to it, because it’s not about us making decisions for you and telling you what’s good for you. It’s a delicate line of just knowing what you want and letting you choose, and tell your own story.
Not that there was any doubt, but Trykowski clearly is ambassador material. If the growing number of whisky partisans and fan boys still wonder about his diplomatic chops, here he is on whisky's Old World versus New World debate:
“The legacy of Singleton is that it is the biggest malt whisky maker in the world; it's about inclusivity. Singleton talks to everyone because it’s a drink for everyone. Yes, the Japanese and Taiwanese make some really good whisky but at the end of the day, they’re sought after because of their scarcity. Scotch is about heritage and art and quality, and most importantly, it is accessible and attainable. Sure, that bottle of Japanese whisky is amazing and out of this world but if I can’t buy it, or drink it, I’ll be like, nah, let’s move on.”
“The other day, I heard one of our master distillers say to another person: ‘But,’ she said, ‘will this make any difference and change the legacy of the brand? No? Good. Then don’t change it.’
“Singleton has been around for 180 years. The techniques used, the heritage and respect for it, are still the same. It has always been about a no-nonsense approach and we are going to keep it that way. It is always hard to do something nobody has done before but with respect, with heritage and with steps perfected over 180 years, we can do it.”
In the relentless search for novelty on social media, the classic ways of creation take on greater value, not least for those yet to experience it for themselves. If Esquire reads Trykowski right, this could be the much talked-about authenticity the Gen Y consumer values at a premium.
“What do I want to leave behind for my successor? A change of attitude. I’m hoping that the next person will be even younger. I’m hoping they will be the forward front for what I do. It’s a new language now and exciting times but Singleton will always be unadulterated. It will always be about approachability - a drink for everybody.”
“The best bar in the world…”
The best bar in the world for me is this little bar in Glasgow called The Pot Still Whisky Bar. If you ever are in Glasgow, head over and check it out. It’s nothing, and everything. It’s that kind of place.”
And the best snack to pair Singleton with? (Said with utmost conviction) “Peanuts. And if you’re feeling a bit of a mood for it, dark chocolate with sea salt.”