Discover Scottish Gin

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Our People

Meet some of the team at Isle of Harris Distillers, makers of Isle of Harris Gin.

Published: 16th August 2018

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.

We start our series with some of the team from the Isle of Harris Distillers, the people who make the world famous and award-winning Isle of Harris Gin. Based on the Isle of Harris, the distillery has earned a reputation for its Scottish Gin, which is loved by many, not only for the gin in the bottle but the bottle itself.

Shona Maclennan, Social Media & Storytelling Assistant

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day almost always begins with a tea/coffee and a catch up on the evening or weekend events. For me, it then involves logging in to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what the world has been posting, sharing or tweeting about us. After interacting as much as possible with these posts, it’s time to find out what’s happening in the day-to-day goings on at the distillery. This means finding out what soups and baking are on offer in the distillery canteen, interacting with guests visiting the distillery or discovering where the next pallet of gin is heading. In between, you’ll also find me answering any phone calls coming through to the distillery office.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part is that no two days are the same. There’s always something different happening within the distillery or different people around. I also love being able to see how people are enjoying their gin and also hearing about their love of the islands at the same time. I think the love for the islands has grown massively in the last few years and to see this on a daily basis through social media makes me very proud of the island I come from.

What is unique about your place of work?

The people. It’s such a fantastic team to be a part of, we all bounce off each other and get on so well, we’re there for each other whenever we need a helping hand. It really is like having a second family to catch up with when you come into work on a Monday morning. With such an array of characters working in the distillery there’s never a dull moment.

John Sutton, Warehouse Manager

What does a typical day look like?

When I start work in the morning, I’m usually met by the driver of our local courier company who stops by to collect the orders first thing. We have lots of Isle of Harris Gin orders waiting for him, prepared and packaged the night before and ready to be shipped off to the mainland. Then it’s time to prepare the orders which have been placed the previous evening and early that morning. I’ll write out any gift messages to be included and make sure all the shipping labels are printed and ready for dispatch. Once the bottles have all been packaged, it’s time to prepare more empty boxes and make up more gift sets. Some days can be spent packaging up hundreds of individual orders and other days there might be afternoons spent setting up pallets to be sent all over the world, from Germany and Canada to Taiwan and Japan, all our bottles begin their journey here at our distillery doors. 

What’s the best part of your job? 

The best part of my job is when you hear from an appreciative customer, who has placed their order online, that they have received their Isle of Harris Gin in good time. And when they also appreciate the unique touches included with each order such as our tasting notes and signed thank you cards. 

What is unique about your place of work? 

What makes my workplace unique is the people I work with and the island community. Having such a hardworking, positive group of people to work with every day makes the working day enjoyable. Alongside the hardworking team is the community in which we are surrounded by, who have been very supportive of the distillery from the beginning. 

Kenny Maclean, Production Manager & Head Distiller

What does a typical day look like?

I start at 9 in the morning in order to spread my working day across the two distilling shifts we operate. I check in with the first distilling team to see that we’ve got off to a good start, and then usually attend two morning meetings regarding quality and performance. I would usually visit each part of the distilling process, both gin and whisky, during the day to get a feel for what was going on. Being a relatively new business that’s growing fast, I spend a lot of time on developing new projects… either improving something or creating something new. I would finish the day after I’ve had a chance to speak to the distillers on the second shift to make sure all is well before heading home.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of the job is seeing people’s reaction and enjoyment when they try our Isle Of Harris Gin. It’s very satisfying to have the quality of our product recognised wherever we go. Telling the story about the distillery and our island over a glass of Isle of Harris Gin, with its maritime notes, is a very pleasant task.  Something thing I’m also passionate about is the wood in which we mature the spirit for our forthcoming ‘The Hearach’ single malt whisky. Whisky maturation is a complex thing, and there is a lot to learn about it, but whenever you nose a cask, whether it be the Spanish oak butts, or the American ex-bourbon barrels, I’m reminded that the whisky has a lot to live up to.

What is unique about your place of work?

We represent the Isle of Harris here on a world stage. We show how special the place is by creating a beautiful product, that is “for and from the Isle of Harris”. This is a heavy responsibility but also a great source of pride.

Peter Kwasniewski, Off-Site Sales Manager

What does a typical day look like?

Normally my day to day role involves varied activities, from managing our online shop and Click and Collect outlets to dealing with some of the finest bars, hotels and restaurants which sell Isle of Harris Gin, and our international markets from Europe to as far as Japan and Taiwan, managing the dispatch of goods and developing new products for retail. Every day is different, and every day brings new challenges. There is no such thing as monotony in the distillery. 

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the ever-changing workload, the customers and partners we are dealing with, and the feedback you hear from customers all over the world enjoying our product, it certainly makes the work very rewarding indeed. The fact that when I wake up on Monday morning I cannot wait to be back at work with more than just ‘work colleagues’, we really are a big family and pool of amazing people with the same goals in mind doing everything to make sure that we make the best possible product and ensuring all our customers are ambassadors to the Distillery and the Isle of Harris. 

What is unique about your place of work?

Being part of the legacy in the making from the very beginning, we are the first legal distillery on Isle of Harris, we are the pioneers of ‘Croft’ Distilling, we have started something which hopefully will be on Isle of Harris for generations to come, and our social aspect to the distillery like the idea of regeneration of the Island by making sure that the majority of what we do, happens here in Tarbert, creating employment and jobs for young people of the Hebrides, both directly and indirectly, which will stop them moving away to the mainland in search of employment. It makes me feel good to be part of something so truly special. 

Shona Macleod, Commercial Manager

What does a typical day look like?

Generally my day to day role involves dealing with a large volume of guests in the shop, canteen and tours during our summer season (April – October) alongside looking after our team of dedicated and passionate staff.  Other responsibilities involve anything from health & safety to marketing and development, community engagement and events. Varied and ever changing!

 What’s the best part of your job?

Dealing with people, I would say – between our amazing team of staff (30 in total) and a large volume of guests (hundreds per day).  Plus the fact that you often have to think on your feet and change your plan at a moments notice – roll up the sleeves and help out wherever required. I also love how varied my role is from making tea in the canteen to contributing to much bigger decisions about the long term success of the business.

What is unique about your place of work?

Lots of things! The building – less than 3 years old, the first distillery in Harris, its place within the community, a source of employment and pride for many of us Hearachs. Most importantly, that we are the first custodians of this place of work and generations to follow will continue the good work we started in 2015.

Alexander Macleod, Retail Manager

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day would begin with lighting the distillery fire in the morning. The hearth is right at the heart of our public space and gives a warm welcome to visitors when they arrive. I’ll then stock up the shelves for a busy day ahead along with the young Shop staff who work with me, usually Uilleam, Daniel or Harrison. We’ll then open the disitllery doors at 10am sharp to let everyone in, there’s usually people waiting at this time of year! I’ll spend a lot of time talking with the customers whilst they make their purchases, we’ll chat about Isle of Harris Gin, the distillery story and also the forthcoming The Hearach single malt, if whisky is more their thing. There’s also an admin side to my role which includes ordering stock and stock management, sales reports, daily reporting. I also look after the cask scheme with the managing director Simon Erlanger.

What’s the best part of your job? 

I really enjoy talking with people that visit us and finding out which part of the world they come from. It’s great to learn about their story while sharing our own.

What is unique about your place of work? 

It has to be the island where we are situated. The Isle of Harris is a special place and it is great to be showcasing a special product from this hidden Hebridean gem.

A big thanks to the team at Isle of Harris Distillers for providing their valuable time and giving a fantastic insight into what life and work is like on an island distillery.

You can learn more about Isle of Harris Distillers here.

Experiences Membership Scottish Gins