Technical Distillers are in charge of the entire distillation process of a variety of spirits. In small sites this involves more hands on work, whilst in large sites many functions are automated.
You could be:
ensuring plant and equipment is properly maintained
responsible for the ordering and storage of the raw materials, such as yeast, cereals, flour and molasses, that is required to make spirits
overseeing the production process and managing the other technicians involved in the process
monitoring the production process at regular intervals, testing samples and making adjustments where necessary
tasting a sample of each batch of spirit produced to ensure the taste, strength and appearance is consistent
specialising in a particular stage of the process, such as fermentation, filtering or maturation
keeping up to date with new scientific and technological advances
keeping records and ensuring quality control standards are met throughout the process.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
The starting salaries for technical distillers are in the range £18,000 to £24,000 a year. With experience this can rise to £35,000 a year. A master distiller can earn up to around £60,000 a year or more.
You would work mostly in the production areas, which may sometimes be noisy and smell of the fermenting liquids.
You might also spend time in an office.
Your working hours may vary, but you will probably work shifts, including some evenings and weekends.
You may have to wear protective clothing such as overalls and ear protectors.
There may be bending, lifting and carrying involved.
The majority of people who start as a trainee distiller have a degree, such as biological science, microbiology, chemistry or chemical engineering.
Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh offers a BSc Hons in Brewing and Distilling, which includes modules in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology. For entry you need 5 Highers at AABBC including Maths and one from Biology, Chemistry or Physics, plus National 5 English. See university website for widening access entry requirements.
If you have a suitable science degree, you can take a postgraduate courses in Brewing and Distilling or Brewing and Distilling Entrepreneurship at Heriot-Watt University. These are available full time or part time.
On 1st June 2015, Improve Ltd and NSAFD merged to become one company. The single entity is now known as The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and is the Sector Skills Council for the food and drink manufacturing and processing industries.
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