That's the Spirit with David Morrison
Birthdays, weddings, funerals, no matter the occasion, there is no celebration without the intoxicating flavours of rum. Director of Quality and Compliance at J. Wray & Nephew David Morrison prides himself on producing only the very best in the dark and light full bodied blends.
Reserved, logical, passionate, traveller, and loyal: these five words best describes Morrison. Not one to beat around the bush, he is a good listener, which serves him well in his relationships, professionally, socially, and personally. Being of a science-based discipline, he is both rational and analytical. Exuding passion is something that comes naturally, as he loves his job and really gets involved, giving it his all. A frequent flyer, he's not particularly a fan of airports, but he enjoys exploring new cultures. And he is forever loyal to his loved ones and true friends. An added bonus: in understanding the intricacies and the complexities of alcohol, he has grown to love and appreciate rum. But let's dig a little deeper and get an insight into his life, shall we?
David Morrison was the first of three children. He learned responsibility from an early age, along with the value of working hard, loving God and remaining positive in everything, "Failure was not an option and that has stuck with me to date. It was a very important lesson for me to see how my parents sacrificed so that all three of us would have an opportunity to grab success."
After Holy Childhood Preparatory, he graduated with a government grant to attend St George's College, where he developed his love for chemistry, forming lasting friendships among friends. "I made great lifelong friends while growing in Garveymeade (Portmore). They continue to influence me to this day. Most of us actually went to St George's, so we did everything together."
Scientifically inclined, he pursued chemistry at the University of the West Indies, mixing in a double major alongside management. His family desired that his studies be in medicine, but he was focused on the bauxite industry, which was a big deal to most graduates who had their eyes fixed on that prize. Fate, however, had other plans for Morrison. Working on campus for almost two and half years in the Chemistry Department after his degree, in pesticide projects with Professor Tara Dasgupta and demonstrating undergraduate laboratories, he loved every minute of it. He decided to do his master's degree in chemistry. "I applied and got accepted, but shortly before I began, J. Wray & Nephew came calling and I decided to explore a new path eventually." He also received a distinction in the Computer Based Management Information Systems Masters of Science Programme at UWI.
Next year will mark two decades since Morrison has been with the leading spirits company. The new and exciting journey got underway in February 1999 when he was a consultant assisting with key laboratory equipment - he received a permanent position in July of that year. From there, he was in the lab as a senior analyst and within months, he was promoted to research and development analysts, then on to the assistant risk manager, assistant product assurance manager, research and development manager, product quality manager - liquids, operations manager (ageing and blending) and product quality manager - packaging. Since 2016, he has taken on the post of director of quality and compliance, where he is responsible for quality of all liquids, product, packaging, and ingredients, from the Estate to Kingston.
In 2003, he was also appointed to the post of senior blender, a position he has maintains to this day, making him one of two blenders at JWN. "During this time, I have had the privilege of working with Master Blender Dr Joy Spence, who, in addition to being a wonderful person, has been an inspiring mentor, who has taught me so much about the art of blending."
This role, he says, has afforded him the opportunity to break out of his shell as well as travel all over the world to spread the word about our wonderful island of Jamaica and teach people about the greatness of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rums. It has also given me an opportunity. "The years spent at JWN to date, have really moulded me into a true professional, allowed me to meet amazing people, learn about many other cultures and spread the word about something I have come to truly love - rum."
With the position of master blender on the horizon for Morrison, his expectations are simple. He hopes to continue the tradition of excellence created by the current and previous master blenders, but to also leave his positive impact. "It's not about being like any of my predecessors, but about being me and letting my expression of this fine art speak for itself," he added.
Outside of work, the husband and father likes to hang out with his friends and go out on trips to the countryside with his family. I have a core group of friends who are the usual suspects when it comes to having fun. I have also taken a real interest in music, especially honing my skills as a DJ. A good friend of mine even coined a stage name & logo for me, DJ MasterBlender. So it's not unusual to see me playing at home or at get-togethers with my friends and family."
His advice to others with the desire to follow in his footsteps: outside of preparing yourself technically, be patient, be open-minded and see the opportunity in everything, even what you may deem as inconvenient. "The combo of confidence and humility will also vary you a far way. Be confident in your abilities but be humble in your approach. Never forget where you came from and those around you, it will help to keep you grounded."