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How did you get that job?
Name Keith Cruickshank
Job Title Distillery Manager. Benromach Distillery. Forres Company Gordon & MacPhail
When did you start your job? I’ve been in the whisky industry for almost 20 years but started at Benromach in 1998 as a Stillman, just as the distillery was being re—opened. Together with the then Distillery Manager. I helped get the place up and running — a rare opportunity in the whisky industry to be involved literally from day one. I took over as Distillery Manager in 2000.
So what does yourjob actually involve? Benromach’s the smallest distillery in Speyside so you have to be ready to turn your hand to anything - from loading casks onto a lorry, to taking a group of visitors for a whisky tasting. I'm responsible for the raw materials which make the pure spirit. overseeing the cask warehouses and maturation, and dealing with customs — I also sometimes cover for the Stillman when he's on his lunchbreak!
Best / Worst Aspects? There's a lot of pride in distilleries. I love the feeling of being part of making something from scratch. seeing the whole process from raw ingredients to finished product. In twenty years you could be holding a bottle of whisky in your hand and thinking ‘we made that‘. Obviously I do also get to partake of
a nice Benromach from time to time... People say I must have the best job in the world and I‘m inclined to agree with them! It does have downsides though — it can get pretty warm in that stillhouse in summer.
What did you do before you started this job? I'm from Keith. right in the heart of Speyside: unsurprisingly lots of people there work in the whisky business. I started out in a bottling plant then moved on to a warehouse, handling casks. then eventually progressed to become
a Stillman. It's unusual nowadays to work your way up from the shop floor to Distillery Manager but I'm glad i did as I've got that knowledge of every step in the process.
What's; the best way to get a job like yours? A passion for whisky and lots of experience - you can also now study Brewing & Distilling at some Scottish universities.
What advice would you give to a young Distillery Manager at. the start oi their career? First Of all you have to love the job: it’s a long, long day if you don't! The advice I got when l was training was to get to know your plant and your people — get stuck in. don't hide behind your desk. Don't ever think you know everything about whisky or become complacent. You have to keep your mind open to new ideas — for example, we recently created the world's first organic single malt.
When you're not making whisky, which in your iavouri‘u: lippie? My only real tipple is whisky (honestly!) i will sometimes have a wee glass of wine but usually it's a dram.
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