When Thami Banda joined the whisky industry almost a decade ago, he didn't even drink alcohol.
Whisky discovered me, I've always claimed that.— Thami Banda, SA ambassador at Macallan Whisky
Banda was the first black person to distil whisky in South Africa and has since been appointed by The Macallan as their South African brand ambassador.
The Macallan is the world’s third largest-selling single malt whisky, produced in Moray in the north-east of Scotland.
But Banda did not have a conventional career path and worked his first-ever job as a security guard for two years after he completed his matric.
I couldn't raise funds to go to tertiary. I enrolled in the security industry... One thing I'm proud of is the discipline that the industry has taught me... It taught me the heart of humanity.— Thami Banda, SA ambassador at Macallan Whisky
He would later work in media relations for municipal government before moving into the whisky industry, collaborating with several global brands.
Born and bred in KwaZulu-Natal, he's become one of the most sought-after whisky connoisseurs in Africa.
Banda explains that the barrel or cask maturation of whisky is one of the most critical processes that define the taste of whisky.
According to the connoisseur, the South African whisky drinker is someone who is aspirational and defies norms.
South Africa is in the top 10 whisky-consuming nations in the world, so we're doing quite well.— Thami Banda, SA ambassador at Macallan Whisky
There is a future for whisky consumption in South Africa and for great brands to play a role within the South African consumer base.— Thami Banda, SA ambassador at Macallan Whisky
Listen to the conversation On The Yellow Couch with Pippa Hudson:
Image: Thami Banda on Instagram.
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How Thami Banda became one of Africa's most sought-after whisky connoisseurs