South African Keepers of the Quaich series

Introducing Pierre Meintjes  |  Master of the Quaich

For the past two weeks we have been introducing the Keepers of the Quaich, but beside the Keepers there are the Masters. This higher rank was introduced some years ago to honour long-time membership and activity in the Keepers. To qualify as a Master of the Quaich you have to have been a member for at least ten years and to have been active in a very prominent way.

South Africa only has three Masters, one being Pierre Meintjes, Rynard van der Westhuizen and the First Woman in SA Karen Chaloner.  We thought it befitting to end our series with an introduction to them.  Today we have the honour of talking to Pierre.

Pierre Meintjes | Master of the Quaich

Pierre joined the Drinks business in the very early 1970’s with Gilbeys as they were then known. He started as a sales representative and left 12 years later as the Regional Sales Manager for the Western Cape.  J&B was their main focus and fortunately for him, he enjoyed that side of the business, so his interest in Whisky came easily.  In 1982 he was “head hunted” by John Dewar & Sons and became the Regional Director for Dewars White Label Whisky. In 1986 their parent company The Distillers Company Ltd., in London was taken over by Guinness and a new Company called United Distillers Group was formed.  The new Company now owned the following brands, Johnnie Walker, White Horse, Haig, Bells, Dewars, Black & White, Vat 69, Gordons and Booths Gin, as well as Pimms amongst others.  Along with a colleague, he then ran this new Company, UDG in Southern Africa.  In 1992 he left to start his own business as the sole agent for Burn Stewart Distillers in Africa. Some of the brands he brought into this market were Scottish Leader, Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle.  Distell bought BSD in 2013 and sadly after a few years, because of an age policy at Distell, he was made redundant.

Pierre was nominated and elected as a Keeper of the Quaich in 1995.  Pierre continued to serve Scotch Whisky to his best interests, almost beyond one’s normal business life, and was bestowed the honour of being invited to be a Master.  This is a very prestigious honour and doesn’t get awarded lightly, it is illustrated by the very few Masters there are World Wide, compared to Keepers.

As previously mentioned, Pierre’s passion for whisky started very early in his life while at Gilbeys, he says he admired the Whisky representatives coming out from the UK and enjoyed their passion for Whisky, which resembled his own passion for Malts.

When asked what some of his favourite memories/moments are; he states, “There are so many, but most recently I was visiting The Glenfarclas Distillery in Speyside and the Distillery Manager, a good friend Callum Fraser and I drank directly from the cask, a 65 year old Glenfarclas, that was very special.” 

Pierre has had the privilege of sharing a dram with some likeminded and amazing people, namely; Richard Patterson, Charlie MacLean, Billy Walker and Ian MacMillan.  What a remarkable experience and opportunity!

Whisky Live salutes you Sir and Thankyou for your ongoing support and passion to keep the whisky category alive and flourishing in the SA Market.


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