He serves as director of Canadian Club's brand heritage, which is as worthy a cause as any.
And who better to promote the brand? He's been with the whisky distillery for a quarter of a century, played a prominent role in their advertising campaigns and still travels the world spreading news about Canadian whisky--even venturing into rival territory with trips to Scotland.
Tullio loves talking about Canadian-style spirits and his particular brand.
But don't tell anyone: he's a Detroit Red Wings fan...
1. How did it go when you visited Scotland?
We have a related brand, Laphroaig. But anywhere we go, we're accepted.
2. Of course, you spell 'whisky' without the 'e'...
That's because the U.S. had an an influx of Irish settlers and we had an influx of Scottish settlers.
3. What makes Canadian whisky different?
Every country in the world has rules and regulations to protect their indigenous style. Of course it has to be distilled in Canada and aged for three years. We produced whisky from corn, rye, rye malt and barley malt in a recipe that hasn't changed for 150 years. Canadian Club double distills; the Scotch and Bourbon producers don't, because they want a robust product. We have a lighter, smooth profile.
4. Do you like the others?
Besides Canadian Club? I do like Jim Beam and Basil Hayden.
5. In the 60s and 70s Canadian Club was everywhere. Then single malts took off and other alcohols became popular--how has the competition affected things?
You're right, the brand was very big. We advertised heavily and gave it flair--connected very well. Who would have ever thought vodka would have overtaken brown spirits? But classic cocktails are on the way back and there's a strong resurgence. Whisky is a truly a masculine drink and we're bringing that back to cocktails.
6. Could there be a better life than drinking whisky all day?
We call it quality control checks. Yeah, I feel very fortunate. And I will pass my good fortune on to a younger person...about 120 years from now.
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7. Of course, you have to live in Canada...
You can survive winter better with whisky. Let's see, there's the CC Manhattan, CC with Coke...
8. What did you think of Canadian Bacon?
I wasn't born when that came out. No, I remember it. Being a Canadian, I like to take jabs at myself. In fact, in Australia, that's our advertising campaign.
9. Did it bother you when a Texas team took home the Stanley Cup?
That's no problem--I'm a Red Wings fan. When's the last time the Habs won the cup?
10. How long has Canada produced whisky commercially?
We state that we are the oldest company in Canada, and that began in 1858. The company was established before Canada became a country.