By V. Sivaji
At first glance, Jasper Epsom, the Chivas brand ambassador based in Kuala Lumpur, would not come across as someone who hails from Kenya.
As a matter of fact, he is the third generation of family members living in African country.
“Kenya is an incredible country and a wonderful place to grow up. Personally, I grew up on a large farm so as a youngster I was almost always out in nature and had a lot of freedom.
“Throughout my early years I had the chance to see many beautiful places and animals all across the country. This is probably my favourite thing about living in Kenya.
“The country itself is very diverse with a variety of different ecosystems ranging from the highlands of Mount Kenya (second highest mountain in Africa) all the way to the beautiful white sand beaches found along the coastline.
“Despite being a popular tourist destinations there are still hundreds of places to go where you can look in every direction and not see a single person or house. It is for this reason that I always recommend people to visit Kenya,” said Epsom to Penang Hyperlocal in Georgetown when on one of his whisky mentoring trips to Penang.
He adds that he loved living in Kenya and he still loves going back to visit his family and friends but is also very grateful to have had the opportunity to leave the country and travel around the world seeing new places.
Being interested in whisky, wine and other spirits, he had applied for his present role as the brand ambassador as he was interested in the opportunity and knew it would involve living and working in a foreign country with lots of interaction with new and different people.
“It was these two factors that really motivated me to apply for the job,” he added.
His job scope involves in the representation of the Chivas brand at different events where the brand is present.
“However, my job scope extends beyond that to include creating and executing a range of different events such as whisky tastings, pairing dinners and the special Chivas event known as The Blend.
“So, with this I am required to travel a lot to share my knowledge of our whiskies and the brand with consumers all over the country.
“Furthermore, I also work directly with our partner outlets to improve their staff knowledge of whiskies through training and mentoring sessions. So in a nutshell my job is to share my whisky knowledge with people to increase brand awareness and appreciate of Chivas whiskies,” says Epsom.
Being in Malaysia for only eight months now, he has so far been to Penang, Malacca, Johore Baru, Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu. He has also been to Singapore and South Korea on work matters.
Talking on his work, he finds that Malaysians are knowledgeable on their whisky.
“When it comes to the mentoring sessions I find that there is a mix of knowledge amongst the guests. Most of the time people are attending whisky tastings for the first time, hence their prior knowledge of whisky is limited.
“However, there are also times when I have a mentoring session for a group of experienced whisky connoisseurs where the understanding of whisky is very high.
“I enjoy both ends of the spectrum though because I like to teach people new things but I also like to be challenged and sometimes even learn new things myself,” added Epsom.
Currently, among the popular brands distributed by his company, Pernod Ricard Malaysia are the Chivas 18 years, Chivas XV and Mizunara and the demand for these brands are steadily growing.
Talking on his hobbies, given his background as an outdoor person, here enjoys getting out of the city and into nature.
“So I like to find new places to go hiking and search of hidden places outside of the concrete jungle. I also love to travel, so whenever I have the chance I will try to travel to new places within Malaysia or if I have more time to travel to new countries nearby,” he said.
His favourite holiday destination is still Kenya despite growing up there and still finds new places that he never even knew existed.
For the immediate future, he plans to stay in Malaysia for a while longer as he loves the food, the people and the landscapes.
“So far I am very happy here. So as long as that is still the case I don’t have any plans to leave the country.
“Besides, there are still plenty of people who I have not yet had the chance to meet and share our wonderful Chivas whiskies moments.”