Scotland’s treasure keeper
Born in Persia and brought up in the US, Moji Shand fell in love with whisky while on a sabbatical from her job. Travelling around Europe she landed up in Scotland for the first time on a whisky tour where she discovered the Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky company.
She said: “When I first landed in Scotland I looked out of the window and thought ‘if this isn’t heaven then I don’t know what is’ and I wrote that in my diary.”
It was during that visit that her love for Scotland’s biggest export product began.
The company, founded in Glasgow, will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year and with Moji at the helm it is about to have one of its strongest year of sales globally as it continues to export to over 50 countries. Back in 1938 the company was a merchant and broker of Scotch whisky casks. No longer a broker and based in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, it took the decision to focus on the bottling and marketing of its own bra
The core range is Black Bull, a 100-proof blend that targets the palates of both blended and single malt Scotch drinkers. Moji revived the trademark in 2009 and the range extends from the Kyloe to the 40-year old which recently earned a 94% score from Whisky Advocate.
“It’s nice to get industry recognition for what you are doing and it’s a great way of getting noticed in a large arena where competition is fierce,” says Moji.
Moji joined the company in 2012 initially working on trading, trademarks and employment issues. In 2013 her entrepreneurial urge led to the launch of Shand Import in LA. It focused on bringing speciality spirits from around the world to the US which led to the opening of the Duncan Taylor Boutique in the Mission District of South Pasadena. Not only does it sell spirits but ingeniously the cast-offs from vintage casks are made into stunning whisky furniture.
She spends her time commuting from LA to Huntly and the company’s spirits continue to pick up major industry awards. Moji is ambitious about the prospects for Duncan Taylor. Sold in the likes of Harrods and Fortnum and Mason she explained: “I joined the company because I wanted to see a Duncan Taylor bottle in every shop I walked into and that is the challenge I still have today.”
Scotch whisky is a pretty male-dominated industry but Moji is now receiving huge respect from her peers. Her business ethos is simple – without passion, why persist?
“I don’t like to boast about being a female executive and I don’t see it as a drawback. I was born a woman, I do my job and I just want to get it done to the best of my ability”