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Who are the people that work inside a distillery?

whisky distillery | whisky industry

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July 7, 2022

All the professionals needed to keep the production of whisky flowing.

Have you ever fantasised about dropping everything and going to work in a distillery? Imagine, being surrounded by whisky! What was that saying? Do something you like and you won’t work a single day. But who are the people that work inside a distillery exactly?

Here is a list of whisky professionals who keep the production running day in and day out. Of course, depending on the size of the distillery some people may perform several functions at once. But in general, this is the kind of work carried out in a distillery.

Head Distiller

Let us start ‘from the top’. Depending on how big the distillery is, having this title also implies actually being the owner. The Head Distiller knows everything that goes on inside of it, down to the last drop of whisky in the still. He or She is responsible for maintaining the traditional principles of their distillery and experimenting to create innovative products.

Usually, the people in this position have a few years of experience and a background in science and engineering. Yes, because whisky is above all science.

But it’s not always fun. Trust me, the Head Distiller has to go through lots of documents and paperwork. Indeed, this job also involves a number of hours sitting at a desk.

Distiller Assistant

Distiller assistants are the distillery’s handymen. Meaning, these people have different kinds of responsibilities to deal with.

What this position entails:

  • Throwing grain sacks of 20 kilos or more
  • Keeping the equipment shiny and clean
  • Assisting in the daily production including mashes, fermentations, distillations, dilutions, barreling, proofing, and the production of non-alcoholic mixers 
  • General coordination with other team members

In short, you should not be afraid of getting dirty. But after three to five years of work inside a distillery you might be lucky enough to become a distiller! Indeed,the road to success in a distillery is paved with hard work and bags of grain.

Master Blender

The role of the Master Blender is to craft coherent flavours that represent the purity of the blend. 

In addition, master blenders are also responsible for the monitoring and development of maturing whiskies.

A true conductor of an orchestra who is responsible for making the flavours and aromas perfectly balanced. 

Maltman

In some distilleries, malting floors are still in operation. These are nothing more than large rooms where the malting process of the barley is carried out. Most distilleries today get their malt from external producers. However, in distilleries where floor maltings are still present, someone has to take care of them! And this someone is precisely the Maltmen.

Maltmen are responsible, for shoveling the corn, barley or other grain onto the malting floor and then into a peat fire oven to stop germination.

Surely, this is not a job for those with weak arms!

Tour Guide

If the distillery is open for public visits, surely there must be a tour guide. His/her task naturally includes talking all day and telling the story of the distillery, being able to entertain and impress the public, answering any questions from the audience (and yes, even being quite good at making something up on the spot if he/she does not know the answer). 

But you know… when it’s tasting time on a tour they can always treat themselves to a wee dram. Which isn’t bad after all.

Mouse controller

You know, where there is grain there is also a high probability of finding some mice. To ward off this possibility, there is a whole team of brave professionals, hunting mice night and day. 

And they are also adorable.

We are actually talking about a team of cats
Who better than they to help distilleries keep mice away? Don’t worry, they get good compensation: warm environments, cuddles and treats.

Sugar Maple, a.k.a. The Queen, while watching over her realm at Nelson’s Greenbriar Distillery” Credit @sugarmaplecat on Instagram.

Did you find your dream job on this list? In the meantime, we can always enjoy a dram. 

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