Our People

Meet some of team at Benromach Distillery, makers of Red Door Gin.

Published: 26th February 2019

For The Gin Cooperative, great Scottish Gin is in equal measure about the people as it is the actual gin. Our exclusive ‘Our People’ editorial feature series finds out what life is like working for a Scottish Gin business. The distiller, the brand ambassador, the social media manager, the office admin, the handyman, the cooper, the shop assistant, the delivery driver and more. It’s these dedicated, passionate and hardworking people we will meet over the course of the series that will hopefully give you a little insight into what working for a Scottish Gin business is really like.

Next in the series features some of the team from Red Door Gin. It’s hard to believe Red Door Gin is less than 8 months old, having established a loyal fan base and far reaching distribution networks. So it’s of no surprise to learn that the experienced team behind Red Door Gin are actually part of Benromach Distillery, established well over 100 years ago, famous for handcrafting Scotch Whisky in the heart of Speyside. We caught up with the team to learn what it’s like to work with Red Door Gin, part of the independent, family-owned and managed business, Gordon & MacPhail.

Lizzie Haw, Whisky Supply Executive & Part-Time Gin Distiller

Responsibilities: I’m heavily involved with product integrity for both whisky and gin, product availability and planning activities.

What does a typical day look like?

An early start at the distillery, which starts by checking all the equipment before beginning to ‘charge’ the still and prepare/weigh out the botanicals for distillation by hand. The still is quite manual in terms of using hoses, loading the basket and using the hydrometer and thermometer to check for the ‘cut’ point to the mixing of the distillate in the receiver to ensure an even strength. There’s regular nosing of the gin during distillation to check it’s behaving as expected.  Each batch takes approximately 5 1/2 hours. We don’t distil our tails, cutting at our designed point based on strength and aromas. Once finished the batch, I’ll leave and head through to our Elgin office to carry out my day job!

What’s the best part of your job?

I really enjoy working with the botanicals… it feels almost therapeutic! I also love that it’s a manual process and I try to get exactly the same LA and strength each time as a little competition with myself! Keith will always try to guess the litres at the end of the day too. Not everyone gets to be involved with gin and whisky!

What is unique about your place of work?

Benromach is a lovely distillery which operates on traditional principles and methods. This has in some ways translated across to our gin process with our pot still Peggy. Relying on the distiller charging the still, taking off the heads manually, switching over valves as required and hand mixing the spirit with what looks a like a giant tattie masher! This ensures an evenly mixed sample for taking the strength, these all cumulate so you feel you really have an impact on the flavour of every batch.

Stuart Ellis, UK Sales Manager

Responsibilities: There are several facets to my role including the responsibility of delivering Gordon & MacPhail distribution and volume objectives of Benromach, Red Door, Gordon & MacPhail whiskies and our exclusive distributor brands into the UK Market through the effective management of our sales team.

What does a typical day look like?

As with many of my colleagues, I don’t really have a typical day, I spend time ‘on the road’ with my team sharing ideas and helping them with their development and meeting their customers, gaining feedback to share internally. I’m often out across all parts of the UK meeting our key customers, spending time with our exclusive distributor partners agreeing market plans etc, attending tasting events and trade shows as well as lots of internal planning meetings.

What’s the best part of your job?

Being part of a successful team is by far the best part of my job, I also love the diversity of my role and the people I meet. I can be talking to a small independent account about ‘why’ they should stock Red Door Gin in the morning and be talking to a whisky collector in the afternoon about a £30k bottle of rare whisky. My biggest buzz comes from helping and equipping my team to deliver to their potential. Last year’s achievement of gaining over 500 stockists of Red Door in a month gives me enormous pride, after all I’m a salesman at heart.

What is unique about your place of work?

The most unique thing about my place of work is having products to sell that nobody else in the industry has, which are in great demand… a salesman’s dream!

Susan Colville, Benromach Brand Home Manager

Responsibilities: I manage a team of 11 guides (a mix of full time and seasonal) and am responsible for all trade, press and general public who visit Benromach for a tour/tasting. To many people, we are the face of the brand and our job is to ensure that each guest leaves having had an excellent time at Benromach! The introduction of the Red Door Visitor Experience will bring an entirely different demographic to the visitor centre – something we’re all looking forward to!

What does a typical day look like?

My days vary and no two are the same!  In peak season I can spend my days manning the desk in the visitor centre, washing glasses, setting up tastings and even taking the occasional tour (in both English and French). There’s also days of budgeting and admin, hosting journalists, film crew and our international distributors.  You never know what will happen!  We’re all really looking forward to the Red Door Visitor experience – adding even more variety to our day!

What’s the best part of your job?

I love my job and am lucky to work with such a close-knit team – we all have such pride and passion for our place of work!

What is unique about your place of work?

We’re unique in that we believe we’ll be the only distillery in Scotland to offer tours of both whisky and gin.

Keith Cruickshank, Benromach Distillery Manager

Responsibilities: Overall responsibility for the Benromach and Red Door site, overseeing distillation and maturation of Benromach Whisky and Distillation of Red Door Gin.

What does a typical day look like?

There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ day.  Some days are desk-based filling in essential HMRC paperwork, others see me getting ‘hands-on’ and spending time with Peggy, distilling multiple batches of Red Door. 

What’s the best part of your job?

I’ve been at Benromach for 20 years now and know every last detail of the site – the introduction of Red Door has given a different aspect to the site and is a little bit different to what we’re used to, but with such a small team we all know each other so well, we work well together and enjoy the variety of working with both single malt and gin!

What is unique about your place of work?

Benromach is unique as I believe it will soon become the only distillery to offer tours of both the Whisky Distillery and the Gin Distillery!

Andy Hannah, Benromach & Red Door Gin Brand Controller

Responsibilities: I manage the marketing of Red Door Gin, which involves the development of brand strategy, packaging, communications, new product development and lots more. Working on a new brand in a different category is a really exciting challenge and gin operates at a different pace from single malt. 

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day on Red Door usually involves helping to deliver aspects of the marketing plan, from social media strategy, to events and sampling, media opportunities and new product development. 

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of the job is being able to switch between single malt and gin brands, which requires a different approach and brings with it very different challenges. This keeps you on your toes and makes for an interesting job. It’s also great to see a new brand like Red Door Gin begin to get established and to have such great feedback from an ever growing group of Red Door Gin drinkers who we interact with regularly through social media channels. 

What is unique about your place of work?

Working for an independent and family owned business makes you feel part of something special and personal – we are all very proud about the part we play in the business and the office is 10 miles away from the distillery, so it’s easy to catch up with the production team, share ideas and work together. 

You can learn more about Red Door Gin here.

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