A stillman in the Scotch whisky industry is responsible for the successful delivery of production operations and the maintaining of stills that are used to produce Scotch whisky. The role involves a combination of technical skill, attention to detail, and an understanding of the unique qualities that make Scotch whisky so highly regarded around the world.

Role Description

The role involves establishing a progressive and fully maintained production environment and a memorable, hospitable guest experience. As a stillman, you are expected to be knowledgeable in all aspects of whisky production, imparting this knowledge to both guests and staff when needed.

Main duties and responsibilities

The primary duties of a stillman include:

  1. Operating the stills during the distillation process, which involves heating a mixture of malted barley, water, and yeast in the stills to create a vapor that is then condensed back into a liquid. You must ensure that the stills are running smoothly and make any necessary adjustments to the temperature or pressure to maintain the quality of the final product. You must also maintain the stills by cleaning and repairing them as needed.
  2. Monitoring the fermentation process to ensure that the mixture of malted barley, water, and yeast has properly fermented and testing the alcohol levels to determine when it is ready for distillation.
  3. Taking regular samples of the whisky during the distillation process to ensure that it meets the required standards for quality and taste. Making necessary adjustments as required to the distillation process to achieve the desired result.
  4. Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that are used in the Whisky distillation process. Monitoring process indicators, instruments, gauges, and meters to detect and report any possible problems.
  5. Record and compile operating data, instrument readings, documentation, and results of laboratory analyses. Maintaining detailed records of each batch of whisky produced, including the ingredients used, the temperature and pressure during the distillation process, and any adjustments made along the way. These records are used to ensure consistency in the final product and to identify any issues that may arise.
  6. Analysing data collected and evaluating results to establish the best solution for any issues identified. Using best practice problem solving techniques. Preparing and presenting reports.
  7. Maintaining all records associated with Scotch Whisky production that are required by HMRC and the Spirits Drinks Verification Scheme compliance and ensuring all equipment involved with spirit preparation and cask filling is maintained and calibrated according to HMRC regulations.
  8. Adhering to strict health and safety guidelines to ensure the safety of themselves and others in the distillery. This may include wearing protective clothing and equipment, ensuring that the stills are properly ventilated, and handling chemicals and equipment in a safe manner.
  9. Assisting the Head of Production with general administration associated with the production as required.


Skills and experience

To be a successful stillman you need to have a unique combination of skills and experience, including:

  1. A strong technical understanding of the distillation process and ability to operate and maintain the stills and associated equipment. This may include experience with boilers, condensers, and other machinery used in the production of whisky.
  2. Meticulous attention to detail in your work, paying close attention to the details of each batch of whisky produced. This includes monitoring the temperature, pressure, and alcohol content of the stills and adjusting as needed to achieve the desired result.
  3. Strong problem-solving skills to be able to quickly identify problems and develop solutions. This may require creative problem-solving skills and the ability to think on your feet.
  4. Ability to communicate effectively with other members of the production team, including distillery managers, other stillmen, and laboratory technicians. This requires good interpersonal and communication skills.
  5. A passion for whisky and an understanding of its unique qualities. This requires a deep appreciation of the history and culture of whisky production and a willingness to continue learning and developing your skills.
  6. A degree in distilling, brewing, or a related field, along with relevant experience in the industry. Some employers may also require specific certifications or training in health and safety, first aid, or other related areas.

The role of a stillman requires a unique combination of technical skill, attention to detail, problem-solving ability, and a passion for whisky production. With the right qualifications and experience, you could find this a challenging and rewarding career path.

Qualifications Required

To become a stillman, you typically need to have:

  • A degree in distilling, brewing, or a related field.
  • Knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
  • Technical skills in operating and maintaining machinery.
  • High levels of attention to detail.
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills.
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • A passion for whisky and an understanding of its unique qualities.

A stillman plays a crucial role by ensuring the quality and consistency of the final product. It is a demanding job that requires a combination of technical skill, attention to detail, and a passion for the art of distilling.

Did you know?
  1. The role of a stillman has been around for centuries. Distilling whisky has been a part of Scottish culture since the 15th century, and the role of a stillman has been crucial to the production process ever since.
  2. The role of a stillman requires a unique combination of technical skill and artistic ability. While the distillation process is highly technical, there is also an element of artistry involved in creating the unique flavour profiles that are characteristic of different types of Scotch whisky.
  3. The work of a stillman is physically demanding. Stillmen spend much of their time working around hot equipment and handling heavy materials such as bags of barley or tanks of water.
  4. Stillmen must be vigilant about health and safety. Working with machinery and chemicals can be dangerous, so stillmen must be trained in safety protocols and be vigilant about following them.
  5. The role of a stillman can be highly satisfying. Stillmen take pride in the quality of the whisky they produce, and many feel a sense of satisfaction in knowing that they are contributing to a product that is enjoyed by people all over the world.
  6. The role of a stillman is integral to the Scottish economy. Scotch whisky is one of Scotland's most important exports, and the industry employs thousands of people across the country.

If you are interested in becoming a stillman, the following resources are available to help you get started.

  1. Many universities and colleges offer degree programs in distilling, brewing, and related fields. These programmes can provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to become a stillman, as well as access to industry experts and job placement services.
  2. There are several industry associations and organisations that can provide you with information on the latest trends, news, and best practices in the Scotch whisky industry. Examples include the Scotch Whisky Association and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.
  3. Many distilleries offer apprenticeships and internships that can provide you with hands-on experience in the industry. These programmes can be a great way to learn about the production process, gain practical skills, and make connections in the industry.
  4. There are several professional certifications available that can demonstrate your expertise and proficiency in the field of distilling. Examples include the General Certificate in Distilling from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and the Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators.
  5. There are many online resources available that can provide you with information on the history, culture, and production of Scotch whisky. Examples include Whisky Advocate, The Whiskey Wash, and Scotchwhisky.com.
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The Scotch Whisky Association

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