Anyone that loves whisky like me will at some point given thought to what it might be like to work in the whisky industry, for myself working inside the warehouse would be fantastic, for others being a still man or distillery manager would be a dream job.. So over the coming months I will be approaching people inside the industry to give us a little insight to what they do on a day to day basis. I will try to cover every aspect from the very top down to the very core workers that get thier hands dirty every day.. There are some very exciting people on board, people like managers, distillers, master blenders and Even the owners themselves.. So it is with great excitement I give you my very first instalment in the form of Distillery manager,Master Distiller and Master blender all in one Graham Coull of Glen Moray…
Graham Coull holds the position of Glen Moray Master Distiller and Distillery Manager as well as Master blender, What a job title that is.. This sounds even more impressive when you find out that he’s only the fifth person to hold the title of Master Distiller since the distillery’s beginnings in 1897.
I now give you ..
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF GRAHAM COULL..
Today’s working day started in the comfort of my own bed! The clock radio wakened me from my snoring slumber – my station of choice is Moray Firth Radio, banal tunes but very good local news. I hit the snooze button (2 x 10 minutes always!) and then listened out for the the reassuring rumble of the boiler and the hiss of steam feeding the Spirit Stillhouse. The boiler is the heart of the Distillery. Without it, distillation ceases immediately and mashing stops not long after. During my 20 minute on/off snooze I heard the familiar scraping noise of the malt lorry being swept out. That was the first malt delivery of the day complete, enough malt for almost three mashes but we will need another delivery later today to ensure that our target of 4 mashes per day can be achieved.
Snooze over, my wife Fay appeared with a cup of tea – spoiled I know! Fay works in the NHS so I like to think that we both have jobs that try to make people feel better!
I multitasked by drinking tea and checking my emails on my phone. Our 2 main markets outside the UK are Austraila and the US so answering emails from distributors at odd times is not unusual.
Once showered, dressed and fed, I built up courage for the arduous commute to work – all 20 yards of it! The only chance of being held up by traffic is if Carntyne come rumbling down the hill past the office to pick up Pot ale or Draff. They are a welcome sight though because if the Pot ale tanks are full, the Wash distillation has to stop and we instantly lose production.
Entering the office I pick up the newspapers which are destined for the Visitor Centre. A quick scan at the headlines and then I fire up the computer.
If there have been any issues during the night the Mash man or Still man will pop in to the office with their tales of woe. The speed at which they make an appearance is proportional to the seriousness of the problem! Thankfully today it was more of a social visit and a blether about the football.
The next familiar noise was the growl of a motorbike. That signalled the arrival of my assistant Graham Spence. He’s the wrong side of 50 to be riding a motorbike but that doesn’t phase him! We sit and plan our day ahead.
My first task was to phone Gateway who look after everything electrical at Glen Moray. The discharge valve on a Spirit still was giving a false feedback signal – not a major problem but better fixed before I forgot about it.
I then wandered down to see Duncan in the warehouse to check that the reciprocal new make tanker had arrived and was ready to fill with 30,000 litres of new spirit. Today was a busy day in the warehouse with a container of empty bourbons unloaded, 200 barrels filled with new spirit and a mixed mature load of Glen Moray Classic Sherry Finish and Glen Moray 12 year old despatched. It was a fine sunny day so the warehouse boys were in good spirits. Today’s butt of the jokes (no pun intended!) was young Blair and his hair but tomorrow it will be someone else’s turn to be gently wound up!
I took the chance to have a look at the casks sitting ready to be filled for our various wood finishes. A good stock of Port and Sherry casks were sitting ready to fill. The last of the new oak barrels and the rum casks from Martinique were also being moved for Patty to fill from the blending tank.
Dodging the over-protective seagulls swooping from the roof of Warehouse 1, I made my way to the Mash house. A quick scan of the production records showed me that we were turning round a mash in 6 hours – good enough for me especially as the mash tun had only been installed a few months earlier. Willie was mashing today looking resplendent in his shorts showing off his white Morayshire legs in their full glory!
Next stop was the effluent plant to see Paddy wrestling with hoses – nothing new there! The effluent plant is in its commissioning stage so still a little temperamental.
Coffee was now calling so a return to the office to deal with invoices, emails and other equally unexciting tasks took me all the way until lunchtime.
The perks of having a Visitor Centre with a Cafe means you can sneak in the back door for a sandwich. Mrs Coull thinks I only have soup so I hope she does not read this!
In the afternoon I reviewed the stock profile of Glen Moray maturing spirit. The Classic range has now expanded to five expressions – Original, Port, Sherry, Chardonnay & Peated and in addition there is the 12, 15 & 18. It makes for quite a complex planning process to ensure that I have the correct amount of spirit at the right age in the right type of cask. To help me I have created an excel spreadsheet that only I can understand but it serves me well! After a couple of hours of number crunching it was pleasing to find that everything was progressing to plan.
My last task for the the day was to prepare my ‘homework’ for the evening so a quick visit to Warehouse 4 was in order to take a sample from a 1998 Glen Moray cask.
A final nip (no pun intended again!) past the mash house and the still house and a catch up with Graham brought the working day to an end.
Computer off, office locked I set off for the long walk home looking forward to doing my homework- tasting notes for the new Glen Moray 18yo.
I would like to thank Graham for taking the time out of his busy day to get involved, his work at the distillery is impressive and the results are plain to see in the quality of malt being produced at Glen moray Distillery.. A malt that continually wins awards, this is down to the dedication and attention to detail from Graham and his hard working staff..