Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer in a distillery is responsible for designing, maintaining, and optimising the mechanical systems used in the production of distilled beverages. They play a crucial role in the operational performance of the site and work closely with other engineers, technicians, and production personnel to maximise efficiency of operational assets across the site. The role often involves providing emergency response to plant breakdowns, analysis, fault finding and repair, using root cause problem solving techniques, to ensure downtime is kept to a minimum.

Role Description

The job duties and responsibilities of a mechanical engineer in a distillery typically include:

  1. Supporting the delivery of efficient and effective maintenance on site, including repairs, MANEX and the improvement of assets and their availability.
  2. Contribute to and support the delivery of the annual mechanical budget including analysing spend, identify, and implement costs improvement initiatives.
  3. Collaborating closely with operations teams, CAPEX and other maintenance groups to maximise efficiency of operational assets and to ensure compliance and delivery of Plant KPIs. Whilst at the same time delivering potential cost savings to the business
  4. Designing, developing, and maintaining distillery equipment, including pumps, motors, boilers, and other machines. Including evaluating the equipment's performance, developing specifications, creating drawings and suggesting improvements to optimise the distilling process.
  5. Using Computerised Maintenance Management System (SAP-PM) for raising, updating, and recording of maintenance tasks in accordance with a weekly asset care delivery plan.
  6. Overseeing the installation, operation, and maintenance of mechanical systems and equipment, including pumps, valves, motors, and conveyors. This involves monitoring the performance of the equipment, identifying any issues or problems, and implementing solutions as needed.
  7. Performing periodic inspections on the plant, machinery, and automated systems to ensure they are operating safely and efficiently. Including scheduling planned and preventive maintenance work, performing routine maintenance tasks, troubleshooting issues, and repairing or replacing faulty components.
  8. Identifying and resolving mechanical problems that arise during the distillation process. Using your knowledge of machinery and materials to quickly diagnose issues and develop effective solutions to minimise downtime.
  9. Ensuring that all equipment in the distillery is operating in compliance with safety regulations by monitoring and enforcing all safety protocols, such as the proper use of protective equipment, and develop contingency plans in case of emergencies.
  10. Ensuring the distillery's production process meets quality standards by monitoring key metrics such as temperature, pressure, and flow rates of equipment to ensure that the process runs smoothly and meets specifications.
  11. Identification of opportunities for process improvements, cost savings, and increased efficiency. Using your knowledge of engineering principles and materials to optimise the distilling process and minimise waste.
  12. Acting as a point of contact for asset care Manufacturing Excellence (TRACC) metric delivery at sites. Providing mechanical discipline expertise for all asset improvement projects and acting as formal discipline sign off.
  13. Delivery of all mechanical maintenance activities for respective engineering centre/site in accordance with a weekly/daily asset care delivery plan.
  14. Own and drive asset care improvement activity both directly at site and within the asset care community. Actively take part in root cause problem solving (RCPS) activity and provide subject matter expertise to ensure that fixes are identified, actioned, and implemented.
  15. Maintaining detailed documentation of all equipment, processes, and projects in the distillery. Including the production of technical reports, manuals, and instructions to ensure that all staff members can safely and effectively operate equipment. Manage and ensure all written schemes of examination (WSE) are updated as required and implement risk-based inspections (RBI) programs.
  1. Maintaining an awareness of the regulatory and Company standards that apply to the role such as HMRC, COMAH and H&S. COMAH specific - Understand and act as Mechanical Engineer Lead in the event of an evacuation or major incident, and regularly participate in COMAH improvement activity.
  1. Staying up to date with new technologies, industry trends, and regulations related to mechanical engineering in the distillery industry.

Overall, a mechanical engineer in a distillery plays a critical role in ensuring the smooth operation of equipment and the efficient production of high-quality distilled beverages. You must possess strong technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail to be successful in this role.


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  1. Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering or a related field.
  2. Prior experience working in a distillery or similar industry is preferred, but not required.
  3. Strong understanding of mechanical design principles, including materials selection, stress analysis, and mechanical component sizing.
  4. Familiarity with CAD software and other engineering design tools.
  5. Excellent communication and collaboration skills, with the ability to work effectively with a diverse team of engineers, technicians, and production personnel.
  6. Strong problem-solving and analytical skills, with the ability to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to complex challenges.
  7. Knowledge of safety regulations and best practices related to mechanical engineering in the distillery industry.


Skills and experience

Mechanical engineers working in a Scotch whisky distillery you must balance a unique combination of technical, problem-solving, safety, and project management skills. to be successful in their role. You will have strong interpersonal skills with the ability to actively engage with partners and at all levels across the organisation to ensure planned preventative maintenance tasks are at the core of the maintenance strategy.


You will need to demonstrate:

  1. Strong technical skills with a deep understanding and experience in the most common types of equipment such as tanks, vessels, mixers, pumps and compressors. You must be able to apply this knowledge to the design, operation, and maintenance of complex distillery equipment.
  2. A deep understanding of Root Cause Problem Solving and the capability to be organised and self-reliant, handling your own workload and priorities while solving problems and supporting process and equipment improvement projects.
  3. Experience or knowledge of relevant design codes (PD5500,EN, ASME, API)
  4. Experienced user of a Asset Management software such as MAXIMO
  5. Skilled at identifying and solving mechanical problems must be able to diagnose issues quickly and develop effective solutions that minimize downtime and production loss.
  6. Have a deep understanding of safety regulations and best practices in the industry. Trained, competent and experienced in Permit to Work systems, risk assessments and method statements.
  7. Strong understanding of relevant mechanical HSE legislation, ACOPS, codes / standards, Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR), Health and Safety at Work Act, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and the ability to translate these into equipment inspection/maintenance regimes and work practices.
  8. Experience with quality control processes and able to monitor and evaluate the distillation process to ensure that it meets quality standards and regulatory requirements.
  9. Have strong project management skills and be able to manage complex projects related to equipment design, installation, and maintenance.
  10. Ability to create detailed technical reports, manuals, and instructions to maintain accurate records of all equipment, processes, and projects in the distillery.

Qualifications Required

  • Bachelor's degree in a scientific field, HNC in Mechanical Engineering or to have followed an apprenticeship.
  • Time-served mechanical engineer
  • 1-2 years’ experience working in a laboratory would be useful.
  • Welding and Fabrication experience is usually also required
Did you know?
  1. Mechanical engineers play a crucial role in the production of whisky, as they are responsible for designing, maintaining, and repairing the equipment and machinery used in the distillation process.
  2. Mechanical engineers in the whisky industry must have a deep understanding of the thermodynamics and fluid dynamics involved in the distillation process, as well as the specific challenges associated with producing different types of whisky.
  3. In addition to their technical skills, mechanical engineers in the whisky industry must also have strong project management skills and be able to work collaboratively with other members of the distillery team.
  4. The whisky industry is constantly evolving, and mechanical engineers play an important role in developing new technologies and innovations to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the production process.
  5. Mechanical engineers in the whisky industry must also be knowledgeable about safety regulations and best practices in the industry, as they are responsible for ensuring that all equipment and machinery is operating safely and in compliance with regulatory standards.
  6. The whisky industry is a global industry, and mechanical engineers may have the opportunity to work in distilleries around the world, from Scotland to Japan to the United States.
  7. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in craft distilleries and small-batch production of whisky, which has created new opportunities for mechanical engineers to develop innovative equipment and processes tailored to the unique needs of these distilleries.
  1. The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) is a UK-based organization that provides training, support, and networking opportunities for professionals in the brewing and distilling industries. They offer a range of resources and publications that can help mechanical engineers stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices.
  2. The Whisky Ambassador Programme: The Whisky Ambassador Programme is a UK-based training program that provides education and certification for professionals working in the whisky industry, including mechanical engineers. Their website provides information on the programme, as well as news and updates on industry developments.
  3. Scottish Engineering: Scottish Engineering is a trade organization that represents the engineering industry in Scotland. Their website provides information on training and development opportunities for engineers, as well as news and updates on industry developments.
  4. The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE): IMechE is a professional engineering organization that provides training, support, and networking opportunities for mechanical engineers in a variety of industries, including the food and drink industry. They offer a range of resources and publications that can help mechanical engineers stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices.
  5. Industry publications: There are a number of industry publications that cover the Scotch whisky industry, including Engineering News-Record, Beverage Industry Magazine, and The Drinks Business. These publications often feature articles on the latest trends and developments in the industry, as well as interviews with industry experts, including mechanical engineers.
  6. Networking events and conferences: Attending industry events and conferences can be a great way to meet other mechanical engineers in the Scotch whisky industry and learn about the latest trends and innovations in the field. The IMechE and SWA both offer a range of events and conferences that may be of interest to mechanical engineers in the industry.

Further Reading

Institute of Brewing and Distilling
Tel: 020 7499 8144
Twitter: @IBDHQ

National Skills Academy for Food and Drink
Tel: 0330 174 1253
Twitter: @NSAFD

Scotland Food and Drink
Tel: 0131 335 0940
Twitter: @scotfooddrink

Related Case Studies

The Scotch Whisky Association

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Quartermile Two, 2 Lister Square, Edinburgh EH3 9GL
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