LISTED: The 55 skills a comms team needs in 2017

Dan Slee

13891133161_d4709eb3d7_oThe best day to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best day is today. It’s the same for you and your team.

The skills you need to communicate have been changing. A few years back I blogged a list of skills that every team needed. This started as a list of 40 skills. No more. This is now 55. But do you want to know the good news? I don’t think everyone needs all of them. But your team’s strength should be drawn from different areas.

I’ve divided this into nine areas. Everyone should get the strategic. Everyone needs the core skills.


  1. Be clear about your organisation’s priorities. Its priorities are the comms team’s priorities.
  2. Report up weekly on . List what you are doing against the heading of your priorities. Otherwise you are just making noise.
  3. Be able to look finance in the eye.

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Over 110 years… to deliver the Macallan whisky in your glass today…

AHHhhhh finally getting round to another blog.  I’ve taken my first week off of the year… yayyyy! The reason i’m getting the time to post! 🙂

I recently visited Jerez, in Spain, a work trip to learn all about the craft behind the Macallan sherry seasoned European and American oak casks.   It really was a fantastic trip! The attention to detail and dedication throughout the whole process is outstanding!!  Made me realise just how special the Macallan whisky is… 

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Wood is very important in the Macallan world- especially since 80% of the Macallan flavour comes from the casks.  The quality of The Macallan whisky depends on the quality of the oak casks it is matured in, (alongside the quality of the new make spirit). The Macallan spends more per cask then any other distillery – which includes sourcing, the crafting, seasoning and care.

What is so special about European and American oak? (warning… snippet of geek chat)

European oak– has a tighter grain and more of a porous structure. European oak grows at a slower pace compared to American oak, resulting in a high level of tannins.
European oak delivers-  dried fruit, spice, and chocolate flavours.

American oak- faster growing and more dense than European oak. 
American oak delivers- vanilla and fruity characteristics.


The cask journey – what happens?

Rather than bombard you with too much detail… let me sum it up in 6 points…

  1. Wood is sent to the cooperages in Jerez- from US (Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri) and Northern Spain
  2. Drying the wood- reduces moisture content of the oak
  3. The unformed oak casks are sprayed with water, so they become flexible enough to be formed and shaped into casks.
  4. The casks are then toasted by fire. this is the beginning of the maturation of casks… in terms of flavour (different levels of heat treatment can change the balance of flavours)
  5. The casks are then taken to the nearby sherry bodegas, where they are filled with dry oloroso sherry and left to rest and season for at least 2 years.
  6. Once complete- the casks are transported to The Macallan home in Speyside, filled with The Macallan’s spirit and left in a gentle slumber for many years before presented as a whisky.

So there you have it…

… 100 years since an acorn fell,  2 years drying, 2 years seasoning with olroso sherry and at least 12 years in a gentle slumber at the distillery – meticulous detail every step of the way, The Macallan follows a truly spectacular journey to deliver the whisky you are holding in your glass today.


Stuart Macpherson, Master of Wood –bottom left in image– The Macallan’s Mr Cool.. (v good guy) is responsible for overseeing every stage of the Macallan cask production, the sourcing, the building process and managing the cask suppliers.

Stuart and David Miles (from Mixxit) will be delivering a masterclass, exploring the craft of whisky making at The London Whisky Show this Saturday 30th September.  Stuart will explain the impact wood has on whisky and David will let you know how you can identify aromas and flavours in Macallan whisky, as a result of the character from the wood.

The Whisky Show London-

Good news for you!! You have a free ticket to get involved!

After the masterclass, we will be running a Facebook Live with both Stuart and David at 4.30pm.

Have a question for our Master of Wood??

Saturday 4.30pm- Come join us in the comfort of your own home:

Grab a glass of whisky and join the conversation:

Introducing chocolate to your whisky…

I love it when two distinct themes come together!  Just as I thought there was sooooo much to learn about whisky… chocolate makes an appearance.  Mix them together and you create magic!

Mixing Lindt chocolate with Macallan Gold completely changes the dynamic of the flavours and texture.  It brings out mint and coffee notes.  It is actually unbelievable and incredibly addictive!

I now need to explore what whisky goes best with what chocolate.  Whisky and chocolate matchmaking. Stay tuned for future discoveries.

Do you mix your whisky with any food?  I hear whisky and cheese is another avenue.  What else is there?






Smashing in at 1st place…. The Macallan Sienna..

The Macallan Sienna… Sweet, spicy, sensational!!

Sienna is part of The Macallan 1824 series – no age statement- alongside Gold, Amber and Ruby. I was introduced to my new favourite whisky on my very first visit to The Macallan last month.

I’ve honestly not tasted a whisky like it!  Intense character and full of flavour.

Notes:  chocolate orange, fruity, apricots, raisins, vanilla and a touch of spice.


I was in Speyside for an overnight stay, in prep for a photography shoot at the spiritual home of The Macallan the following morning…. a 4.30am start! yip.. you heard me… a 4.30am start!

We had dinner the night before at the Copper Dog- a fantastic wee place in Craigellachie (built in 1893)- steeped in history with a modern twist.  It’s cosy, quirky and well worth the visit.  As you walk in you are presented with 900 whiskies sitting proudly on the wall…

What one would you pick??

If you’re ever in Craigellachie… go there! The food is amazing as well.. Remember to book. It’s extremely popular…


Anyway, 4.30am the following morning….  Along with the social media agency and photographer Dan Rubin, the day was spent capturing Easter Elchies house, the spiritual home of the Macallan.

Here’s a few of my own snaps… Check the size of the big Daddy Macallan bottle!

It’s an amazing place… there is something mystical about it.


I love everything The Macallan brand stands for… its commitment to exceptional quality, its hunger for innovation and constantly striving to go beyond the ordinary.

It really is extraordinary!  🙂

Are you communicating effectively? Part 1/3

Adele Goodfellow

I’ve learned over the years communication is the most important skill in both your personal and professional life.  You could be the most intelligent and capable person in your profession, but if you don’t communicate effectively you run the risk of being underestimated and misunderstood.

When it comes down to it we are all a bunch of complex creatures with differing farm-animalspersonalities. Our minds process things in different ways and at varying speeds. We all communicate in a way that we feel is most effective.

Although what you believe is the most effective way of communicating may not be the best way for someone else. In any given situation, the message could mean the same thing but people can be express it in different ways. This can result in misinterpretation and confusion. In fact, you could say miscommunication results in the beginnings paperbagheadsof office politics. This is usually prominent in…

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My top 3 whiskies…

I’ve been immersing myself in the whisky world for a wee while now.  The favourites are starting to make an appearance.  Here’s the whiskies that have made it into my top 3, so far…

#1    Highland Park- 12 year old–  Love it! Actually love it! This whisky has instantly made it to the top spot.

A slight peatiness works on this wonderful whisky.  It gives the whisky an extra edge and makes it come alive.

Tend to find the Islay malts are too smoky- so much so, I feel, it destroys the aromas/flavours.  However, just a touch gives a whisky character.

Water brings out a spicy sensation and takes Highland Park to a whole new level.





#2  Balvenie – Doublewood. 12 yr old

Smooth.. smooth.. smooth.  Notes of caramel, sherry, sweetness and an oakiness. A very pleasant whisky.

Apparently, aged for 10 years in bourbon casks, and then aged for another two years in sherry casks.

A variety of flavours develops as you drink it overtime, which makes it a magical whisky. Even the after tastes surprise you by unexpected offerings of coconut and spice.





#3 Macallan Gold

Bursting with fruitiness- apples and raisins, and accompanied by a touch of honey.

I feel  Macallan Gold has a long lasting finish.  Not many other whiskies follow suit. There is a strength to this whisky. A great companion that offers both oaky tastes and subtle sweetness.



The ones that didn’t make the cut…

Royal Brackla (it nearly did), 

Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glengoyne, Laphroaig, Tallisker, Glenfarclas 

Now that i’m getting a feel for whiskies from the different regions.  I’m discovering your choice of whisky really depends on the mood you are in at the time.  If i’m out with friends – Highland Park brings the kick you need.  On the other hand, chilling out at home- Balvenie does the trick…

What’s currently making your top 3 whisky list?

Mixing whisky with stars…

Really? I know!  What a bizarre (but fun) combination…

Last week, I went along with a friend from work (Alastair- big whisky and science fan) to a whisky/science evening at the Glasgow Science Centre.

The night kicked off with whisky tasting…

Rod from the Good Spirits Company talked us through each whisky (list below).  A scientist would occasionally step in to chat about ‘molecules’?  atoms?

I’m not going to lie- the more whisky I had the more my brain shut off to molecule chat.

We were then taken into the planetarium and blanketed with a night sky full of stars.  Stunning!  We learned about all the star constellations.. big dipper/cooking pot.

In all seriousness though, it was beautiful to see… especially after 6 drams!!   🙂

The list of whiskies from the night (courtesy of Rod’s Twitter account – @rodbodtoo)

If my memory serves me right, i’m sure my favourite was number 4. Ever tried any of these?

Whisky makes you do strange things… at one point I felt I was levitating in

the room…

that’s because…

I was levitating… in the room…

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Anyhooo, last week was my first week in my new job at The Macallan.  Loving it so far! Lovely people and lots of information to learn and take in! Exciting times!  More on my Macallan adventures in future posts 🙂

Have a fabulous whiskified week.


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