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 The Orkney Distillery, home to Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin.

Published: 14th March 2020

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.

Officially opened in the summer of 2018, The Orkney Distillery is home to Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin. Based in Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital and overlooking Kirkwall harbour, the distillery has continued to grow since opening with a number of new Scottish Gin expressions launched, new awards and a growing team. Producing products that intertwine local history and folklore with a proud Orcadian heritage, we caught up with the female-strong team at the modern, purpose-built distillery to learn more about life and work inside the busy distillery.

Nikki Wylie, Head Distiller

Responsibilities

I’m responsible for everything on the production side of the distillery from botanical to bottle. I train and supervise other production staff and have responsibility for compliance with relevant regulation.

What does a typical day look like?

If I’m distilling, I will have already charged the stills the day before with spirit and our blend of botanicals. We currently have 5 gins we distil on a regular basis so there can be various products flowing from the stills week to week. After turning on the heat, I have about an hour before the stills need attention again. This gives me a chance to catch up on emails or get set up for any other tasks. On some days I may be bottling and labelling, doing admin or trialing and testing new flavour combinations. Every day is a little bit different, which keeps me on my toes.

What’s the best part of your job?

Because we have the distillery, visitor centre and bar all under one roof, I can see our product all the way from the stills to the G&Ts at the end. I find it really rewarding to see people enjoying our gins and I know the rest of the team feel the same. 

What is unique about your place of work? 

It’s definitely unusual for a distillery to have a largely female work force. We may like our traditions in Orkney but with our Director Aly, Operations Manager Katie, Graduate Trainee Anja, and Bar Supervisors Nicola and Anna, we’re not behind the times. We’re a really tight knit group and it’s great to be surrounded and supported by so many women in a traditionally male led industry. Don’t worry though – Director Stephen and Business Development Manager Neil do still get invited to staff parties.

Anna Younie, Bar Supervisor and Tour Guide

Responsibilities

As a bar supervisor, my responsibilities include managing stock in our bar and placing orders for new products we may want to try in our visitor centre and coffee shop; working with clients when they come to the distillery for an event – ensuring all of their needs and requirements are met whilst they are here; helping with any worries/queries the team have and relaying them to our Operations Manager, Katie (and visa versa!) As well as leading tours round the distillery.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day can involve packaging up and sending off orders we receive through our online store, serving customers in the bar and gift shop and sometimes leading our daily tours through the distillery. It’s very rare that two days are the same here though – there’s always gin being sent somewhere new or samples for a new product incorporating our gins to have a look at (…and a taste of!) The Summer months here are particularly busy with Orkney’s ever-increasing influx of tourists coming to visit us. It’s always nice to meet new people and hear their stories about how they came across us and where they’re off to next!

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is without a doubt the team I work with. Being around such an encouraging and reliable group of people every day is something I really love. No problem is ever too big for us to tackle! Being able to work so closely with the public is something I find extremely rewarding also. Ensuring all of our customers and clients have a positive experience here at The Orkney Distillery and hearing their kind feedback really makes my day.

What is unique about your place of work?

This is the only job I have had where the team is almost all women, which is something I find really exciting! Coming to work in a field which is usually seen as one to be dominated by men – the success of our distillery has been highlighted at several gin/food & drink award ceremonies, seeing us up against the best of the boys! I am very proud to say I work with such a close knit, supportive group of women on a daily basis. 

Anya Hall, Graduate Trainee

Responsibilities

As part of my role as Graduate Trainee at The Orkney Distillery, I am currently studying towards a Degree in Business Management through Robert Gordon University’s graduate apprentice scheme so a lot of what I do at the Distillery is based around my course. Day to day I’m responsible for managing finance, team scheduling, overseas logistics. I spend some of my time organising events and managing our social media pages. 

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day starts with a quick team meeting in the office. We’ll discuss what’s been going on through the week and make a plan for any events that are happening that day. Then I’ll start off by checking my emails, working my way through finance tasks, respond to any international enquiries and I’ll usually finish off the day by catching up on my university work. In the summer months I tend to spend a bit more time in the distillery doing tours or preparing posts for social media. That’s something I love about working here, as no two days are the same!

What’s the best part of your job?

For me personally, the best part of my job is being given the opportunity to achieve a degree through working at The Orkney Distillery. Not many people get the chance to stay in Orkney and work full time whilst also studying so it is an opportunity I’m very grateful for. The people I work with here are also a big part of what I love about the job. We are such a close team and I love working in such a supportive, friendly environment! 

What is unique about your place of work?

I think the most unique thing about where I work is the location! Orkney is such a diverse and interesting place that so many people from all over the world want to visit. The summer months are very busy here and the cruise liners bring all sorts of people to Orkney. I really enjoy meeting and chatting to such a huge mix of tourists and hearing about where they come from.

Katie MacLeod, Operations Manager

Responsibilities

I am the overall manager of The Orkney Distillery Visitor Centre so have responsibility for the team, the customer experience and the facilities. I also undertake the HR function as well as organising all the PR, marketing and advertising activities and arranging on and off-site events.  

What does a typical day look like?

On a typical day I’ll arrive into the office and check my emails for anything urgent that has happened overnight. I’ll then catch up with the team on the activities and priorities for the day as well as troubleshooting any issues in the Visitor Centre before the day begins. I’ll then be working on various projects across the day – from putting together designs for a new print advert to arranging for Japanese translation for our marketing materials. I’ll often have a couple of meetings each day, which could be with clients planning events, calls with our overseas customers regarding exporting or with local forums and groups such as Orkney Food and Drink. 

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is how varied it is, it’s never boring and I get a great mix of interacting with the team and customers and working on longer project-based work. We’re also lucky enough to have a wonderful group of people working here and we have a laugh every day, no matter how stressful things get! 

What is unique about your place of work? 

I think it’s unique to have something as modern and forward thinking as our Distillery and Visitor Centre on an island which is for most people quite out of the way. Visitors are often surprised by the high standard of the visitor attractions and produce in Orkney and we’re very proud to be part of that. In the industry we’re different in that we have a very young, predominantly female workforce, which I think shapes the way that we approach our business and means we’re always up for something new! 

You can learn more about Orkney Distilling here.

Distilleries News & Features Scottish Gins