[:en]Expert in spirits, proudly lover of whisky, with a career behind him which, at just 48 years of age, places him among the greatest talents in the world of beverages. Walter Gosso, Ambassador and Advocacy of Rinali 1957, talks about himself in MT Magazine.
Walter, a few months ago you started a new adventure in Rinaldi 1957, can you tell us about it?
Certain. I started just this year, shortly before the Coronavirus emergency broke out. At Rinaldi I hold the role of Ambassador, in particular following some Rum, Gin and Champagne brands which are among the premium brands worldwide. For Gins we can mention Ramsbury and Aviation, for Rums of course Don Papa and for Champagne a maison, Jacquart, which has very interesting plans for the future. They are obviously not the only products I deal with, but let's say that my focus is on those. Being a great whiskey enthusiast, I follow some Scottish and Japanese producers such as Glenfarclas and Kamiki without forgetting some extraordinary Italian products such as bitters, for example Venti and Formidabile, and Gins such as Ginepraio and Rivo. The quality of Rinaldi references is constantly growing, I must admit that this new adventure is very stimulating.
What exactly does an Ambassador do?
Therefore, I currently hold both the role of Ambassador and Trade Advocacy Manager. Basically I work together with the sales network, instructing the sellers on the types of products they should present. My role was born several years ago in all the large companies that deal with beverages and beyond, for a very specific need: to make sellers aware of the quality and potential of the products we sell. It often happens that niche products, for example, are less well known and therefore described to buyers in an imprecise manner. Advocacy is therefore the point of reference for the company's entire commercial network.
At this point a question arises spontaneously: how do you become you?
(Laughs ed.) A very good question that is not easy to answer. You certainly have to study a lot and have spent just as much time behind the counter. I'm 48 years old and I've been behind a counter since I was 14. Without having done all the dishwashers I have done and without having cut my fingers a thousand times while slicing lemons I would never have gotten to where I am now. You need significant knowledge in terms of food and beverage, you need strong empathy, you need to experience a natural pleasure in being with people. You need a love of chatting, a sincere interest in whoever sits in front of you, and even a bit of healthy cheek! What I miss most in this period is contact with people.
So experience and empathy. Say little! Need anything else?
Absolutely yes: you need to travel, learn and study. These are three things that you should never stop doing. You shouldn't be afraid of leaving the nest and going abroad, because it's the only way to learn languages and open your mind by discovering all the differences in the way we work, think and live. Then you must never stop studying, reading books and above all touching the object of your study first hand. You may know everything that has been written about whisky, but if you don't touch the malted barley, the heat of a distilling still, if you don't talk to the man or woman behind this miracle that is renew every day well, it's difficult for you to really do this job at your best. So arm yourself with a suitcase, curiosity, courage and go!
How do you keep up to date in a world that changes so quickly?
It's not easy. For example, I always say that today we are already old: the world is moving so fast that it necessarily leaves us behind, there is no escape. Maybe after the dramatic experience of Covid it will slow down, who knows. Maybe there's even a need. In any case, nowadays the web gives us the greatest help. Compared to when I started, in a period in which the internet did not exist and companies kept any information about their products to themselves, today finding information is a possibility within everyone's reach. We must not forget how the internet has simplified the interconnection between the different actors of the so-called "hospitality". Today it is much easier to meet professionals, even virtually, talk to them, get in touch with companies that have opened up to the world in the meantime and find information. Of course there is the downside: the internet has given anyone the opportunity to have their say even without having the skills, so the famous "fake news" is the order of the day. You have to be careful.
How do you avoid running into fake news?
By carefully selecting sources. Personally, I only find out about a few sites, for example those of AIBES or IBA, important associations in which the writer is generally a professional in the sector. Currently even the websites of beverage companies are quite competent, then anyone can make mistakes, that's human. Of course, we must neither see associations and companies as a Bible nor forget the value of books. Those are always fundamental, even in the age of mass digitalization.
Not only the information but also the products have multiplied enormously today. Is it good for the market?
Time will tell whether this is a good thing or not. Competition has certainly increased, take for example the case of gin: when I started doing this job there were four colors of gin behind my back, on the bottle rack, and then there were the local gins. We now have around 800 gin labels worldwide. However, one should not think that niche gins did not exist in the 1980s, it was simply not easy to find them and bring them to Italy. In any case, since Tanquerey 10 and Hendrik's were launched, everything has changed, fortunately: a whole new world has opened up in the panorama of gin, which nowadays is experiencing the same lucky period that vodka experienced in the 1990s. 90s and the 2010s. I believe that gin will have a longer life, although we will certainly see many of them disappear, because in my opinion there are too many of them. As I said at the beginning, however, time will tell.
In your opinion, how will the world of beverage and bartending change after the Covid crisis?
In my opinion there will be many changes, both on a professional and human level, and it is not a given that all evils have a silver lining. Surely we will all come out scarred, it's inevitable, but we will come out of it. Our way of approaching each other will probably change: we won't be able to afford kisses, hugs and handshakes for a while, and for the first time we will maintain distances that we Italians are probably not used to. We are warm people, we are a bit Latin in this, we need contact, but we will have to be responsible. For this reason, in my opinion, the figure of the bartender will become even more important, because they will have the power to put smiles back on people's faces. Today we are experiencing a sort of second prohibitionism, with all the relevant differences, obviously. Meanwhile, this prohibition is necessary and sacrosanct, unlike the American one of the last century, and then it concerns our personal freedoms. We can't go out, we can't be together, we can't go to clubs. These are measures that must be followed blindly, our health is at stake, but without a doubt they are stressing us out a lot. When we can go out again we will want conviviality, and where else can we find it if not in a bar? We will look for a contact which, if it cannot be physical, will be visual, auditory, gustatory. We will look the bartender in the eyes, talk to him, taste his drinks. These small gestures will be able to put a smile back on people's faces, which is why barmen but also sommeliers, waiters, maître d's, receptionists and all those who work in contact with people will have an enormous responsibility which, in my opinion, they will undoubtedly be able to sustain at the Better.[:]