Spirits Operations Apprentice

The role of Spirits Operations Apprentice in the scotch whisky industry is an entry-level position that offers a unique opportunity to be directly involved in producing and preparing the spirit that goes into some of the industry’s most iconic whisky brands. You will typically learn about malting, mashing, fermentation, and the distillation process and lead to gaining skills in casking, bottling, labelling, and packaging.

Role Description

The programme is usually structured at a pace to help, support, and inspire you. You will rotate between teams every 6 months to gain a wide appreciation of our operations which will help develop your technical knowledge. The structure of the program will typically involve you being on site, four days a week and one day a week you will attend college to study for your SCQF Level 5 or your HNC/D in Chemical Engineering.

Main duties and responsibilities

As a Spirit Operations Apprentice you will learn how to comply with industry health, safety and environmental working practices and regulations, work both individually and as part of a team and learn control production processes to ensure product quality and efficacy.

Key responsibilities of the role include:

  1. Assisting in the production of scotch whisky. This may include operating machinery and equipment, monitoring the fermentation process, and ensuring that production processes comply with relevant health and safety regulations.
  2. Ensuring that the quality of the scotch whisky meets the required standards. This may involve sampling and testing the product at different stages of production and adjusting the process as necessary.
  3. Ensuring that the scotch whisky is stored correctly, and that inventory levels are managed effectively. This may involve working with computer systems to track stock levels and ensuring that stock is rotated correctly to maintain quality.
  4. Packaging the scotch whisky and preparing it for distribution. This may involve working with suppliers to source packaging materials, operating machinery to fill and seal bottles, and coordinating with logistics teams to ensure that the product is delivered to customers on time and in good condition.
  5. Ensuring that all production processes comply with relevant legislation and industry standards. This may involve working with external regulatory bodies to ensure that the distillery is operating within the law and ensuring that the necessary permits and licenses are in place.

At the end of the programme, you will have obtained your SCQF Level 5 or your HNC/D in Chemical Engineering.

You will also have developed a deep understanding of operations, and have gained valuable experience in a variety of processes. Depending on your interests, you can work towards a variety of Manufacturing roles, such as Process Improvement roles, or Team Leadership.

To be successful in this role, you will need to have a strong interest in the scotch whisky industry and be willing to learn and develop your skills. A high level of attention to detail and the ability to work effectively as part of a team are also important qualities. You will also need to have good communication skills, as they will be working with colleagues, customers, and suppliers on a regular basis.


Skills and experience

The Spirit Operation Apprenticeship programme is an exciting, blended learning approach of in-the-classroom and on-the-job training.

The skills and experience required vary depending on the specific employer and role, but typically require the following:

  1. Three Highers including Chemistry at B or above in addition to three Nat 5’s – including Maths, English and one technical or science subject.
  2. A strong interest and enthusiasm for the production and distribution of scotch whisky, as this will be a key motivator for success in the role.
  3. Ability to pay close attention to detail and maintain high levels of accuracy is essential in ensuring the quality of the scotch whisky produced.
  4. A range of practical skills, such as experience in operating machinery or working in a production environment.
  5. Good communication skills, as you will be required to work as part of a team and communicate with colleagues, customers, and suppliers on a regular basis.
  6. Adaptable and able to work effectively in a fast-paced and constantly changing environment.
  7. Ability to identify and solve problems, and to think creatively to find solutions.
  8. A good understanding of health and safety regulations and be committed to ensuring that all processes comply with relevant legislation.
  9. While a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent may be required, some employers may also require additional qualifications or experience in a related field.

As a Spirits Operations Apprentice you should be willing to learn, enthusiastic, and committed to delivering high-quality scotch whisky products.

Qualifications Required

You will typically need a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may require additional qualifications or experience in a related field. Apprenticeships may last between one and four years and may involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom-based learning.

Did you know?
  1. The scotch whisky industry is a major contributor to the UK economy, with exports generating over £4 billion per year.
  2. The industry employs over 10,000 people in Scotland, with many more employed in supporting industries such as packaging and logistics.
  3. Apprenticeships in the scotch whisky industry offer a unique opportunity to learn practical skills and gain theoretical knowledge in a highly specialised field.
  4. The scotch whisky industry has a long and rich history, dating back to the 15th century.
  5. Scotch whisky is made from a combination of water, malted barley, and yeast, and is distilled in copper stills to produce a high-strength spirit.
  6. The production of scotch whisky is highly regulated, with strict rules governing everything from the ingredients that can be used to the methods of production and maturation.
  7. The industry is constantly evolving, with new innovations and technologies being developed to improve production processes and create new flavour profiles.
  8. Many of the apprenticeships in the industry offer the opportunity to work in some of the most scenic and beautiful parts of Scotland, including the islands of Islay and Skye.

If you are interested in becoming a Spirits Operations Apprentice in the scotch whisky industry, there are several resources you can use to find opportunities and prepare for the role:

  1. You can search for apprenticeship vacancies on websites such as the National Apprenticeship Service, the Scottish Apprenticeship Service, and the apprenticeship.scot website. These websites offer a range of apprenticeship opportunities in various industries, including the scotch whisky industry.
  2. The Scotch Whisky Association is the industry trade group for scotch whisky producers and provides a range of resources and information about the industry, including apprenticeships. You can find out more on their website.
  3. Many scotch whisky distilleries offer apprenticeship opportunities, and you can find out more by visiting their websites or contacting them directly.
  4. Your school, college, or university may have a careers advice service that can help you find apprenticeship opportunities and provide advice on preparing for the role.
  5. Networking with industry professionals can help you learn more about the scotch whisky industry and find opportunities. You can do this by attending industry events, joining industry associations, or connecting with professionals on social media.
  6. Some apprenticeship opportunities in the scotch whisky industry may require specific qualifications or training. You can find out more about these by researching industry qualifications or speaking to industry professionals.
Related Case Studies

The Scotch Whisky Association

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