Distillery manager

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Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would oversee the production of spirits like whisky and gin that would then be bottled and sold – sometimes across the world.

As a distillery manager you’ll have one of the most senior positions at a distillery. You’re responsible for both the production of the spirit and the warehousing operations – where the spirit is stored.

You need to ensure that the distillery meets the agreed production targets (LOA – litres of alcohol) on an annual basis.

You’ll spend a lot of time looking for new ways to improve how the spirit is produced and the quality of the spirit.

You could:

  • Manage the distillery employees to make sure that production goals are met
  • Make sure that all products maintain quality standards
  • Make new products with the Master Distillers
  • Monitor quality, cost and delivery
  • Work closely with the rest of the team ensuring that the distillery is a safe place to work
  • Ensure the distillery complies with environmental and health and safety regulations, and pass this knowledge onto the distillery management team
  • Organise the maintenance of equipment
  • Act as a brand ambassador to help promote the distillery
  • Record information about the production process, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and fill out regulatory documents to suit HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and other bodies
  • With the support of the distillery management team and the human resources department, recruit new members of staff at the distillery when required
  • Be responsible for the annual budget

The duties of a distillery manager can vary depending on the size of the distillery. You will be more hands-on when working at a smaller distillery. A larger distillery might involve more delegation of tasks.

Other jobs in a distillery include:

  • malting – the barley is soaked for 2-3 days in warm water and then traditionally spread on the floor of a building called a malting house. It's raked and turned regularly to maintain a constant temperature. This is also carried out on a commercial scale in large drums which rotate
  • mashing – a manual process of combining a mix of milled grain (typically malted barley with supplementary grain). Mashing allows the enzymes in the malt to break down the starch in the grain into sugars
  • warehouse roles – working in the warehouse where the whisky is stored in casks
  • customer service roles – this could involve working in the visitor centre shop, cafe or providing whisky tours

Working conditions

Hours

These vary by distillery from 35 to 38 hours per week. You'd normally work Monday to Friday, but may need to work extra hours on occasion and could be on-call.

Environment

You’ll normally work in an isolated rural location. The working day is split between office duties and plant and warehouse duties as required.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Taking the lead
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being logical
  • Working with numbers
  • Making decisions

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

As this job requires understanding of spirit production and management experience you'll either need significant industry experience or a higher education qualification. This could be a degree (SCQF level 9/10) or postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11/12) in spirit production or other relevant subjects, such as excise or quality control, plus industry experience.  

There is an International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University which offers a degree course in brewing and distilling

Some employers have graduate employment schemes to help graduates gain the experience they need for the job.

Required qualifications:

  • Food safety qualification (e.g. HACCP – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control)
  • Managing safely qualification (IOSH – Institution of Occupational Safety and Health)
  • Institute of Brewing and Distilling General Certificate in Distillation

Once in the job, if you do not already have these qualifications, you will be required to work towards:

  • Safety management qualification (e.g. RoSPA – Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents or NEBS)
  • Institute of Brewing and Distilling Diploma in Distillation

Useful subjects

  • Maths
  • English
  • Science and technologies subjects
  • Health and food technology
  • Business management

You will also need

  • Experience as an assistant distillery manager or production team leader or operating at a similar level
  • Knowledge of the whisky/spirit industry
  • Detailed knowledge of all production and warehousing processes