Alex Wolpert: The drama of spirits

28 September, 2018

Shay Waterworth interviews the ISC’s rising star of the year and finds it’s not the first time he’s been at the shining end of stardom

They gave me a bulletproof vest and I would sit in the back of the van taking notes of everything I saw. I didn’t have much hair back then either so I was respected like I was a real policeman.”

Alex Wolpert was recently awarded the Rising Star of the Year award at the International Spirits Challenge 2018 for the success of his East London Liquor Company. But his first passion lies with acting, and spending one night a fortnight for 18 months on patrol with his local police force shows the extreme lengths to which he would go to research his work.

Wolpert studied at the same drama school in central London which has produced Hollywood stars such as Tom Hardy, Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender, to name a few.

“I worked in acting for quite a few years, it’s what I trained to be after all. But since having kids and running a business it’s taken a back seat. But it’s not something I’ve totally dismissed, I’d like to go back and do it again at some point,” says Wolpert.

“I guess the dream would be to slowly get back into acting again. It doesn’t have to be top level, West End productions. I love (Anton) Chekhov and other Russian literature through my grandfather’s influence, so it would be really fun to go down that path.”

GLOBAL HERITAGE

Despite being born and bred in London, Wolpert has a piece of heritage from all corners of the Earth. His mother is Iranian, his father is half Russian and German. Combine this with his Irish wife and his three young boys now have a bit of everything.

“My casting has changed a lot over the past 10 years because, when I’m being cast for a role, they always struggle to place me because of my heritage. I can blend in pretty much anywhere I go. For example, the other day I walked into a Turkish shop and the guy started speaking to me in Turkish.

“I also do a bit of writing in my spare time – not that I have much. I write short feature films and if I choose to play a role then I give myself a good character.”

On top of acting and writing, Wolpert is about to release a film with Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams called Corvidae. It’s been six years in the making and as producer he describes it as a pastoral horror, which has been written by Tom de Ville who also scripted US TV series Hannibal starring Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen.

Although modesty prevented him from name-dropping, Wolpert is clearly proud of what he has achieved in the world of drama. However, it is difficult to know which he is more excited about – drama or the development of his business.

Since launching East London Liquor Company four years ago, Wolpert has established three core gins, a vodka, a rum and is now planning to release a London rye whisky later this year.

“We’ve had such an incredible first four years. We’ve gone from making 1,000 bottles a month to 12-15,000. But the reason for this success is that there are no other local producers making gin on our scale at the same price point, and we aren’t hiding anything.

“Over the next three to five years it would be great to get our whisky bedded in as THE London whisky and create a demand in the on and off-trades.

“Our other ambition is to work on our export markets. We already have more than 20 different ones but growing these markets could be key.

“I’m fortunate to be in the position where I’ve seen my business grow from the ground up and not only has this been a huge learning curve for me, but I think it’s great for my kids to see evidence that you can actually do whatever you want, and succeed.”





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