Head Stillman
Glengoyne Distillery

info Issues viewing the video?

Duncan M

00:02 My name is Duncan M and I’m a stillman at Glengoyne distillery in Killearn.

00:07 Being a stillman, you’re actually creating a type of spirit. So I have to distill the spirit and I have to collect this middle cut which is going to be used to make Glengoyne of the future.

00:19 It’s not a hard job but you have to pretty dedicated because we have a recipe which has been handed down and you obviously want to try and do the same as the previous people before you. Cos at the end of the day what I make today will not be tasted for ten years when you drink it.

00:39 My dad was a plumber by trade and eventually became a work inspector and at one point I thought I might follow in his footsteps and be a plumber and because when I left school at fifteen and all the guys were, well it was a natural thing to go and get a trade, you know, so I was throwing all these things about and this, this job came up one day and I said, I can be a butcher I’m going to try it.

01:02 I finished my trade, I went to Dornoch in Sutherlandshire and I just happened, there was a chance meeting, I met the manager of Glengoyne distillery and I just said I was between jobs, I was moving back from the north, just asked me where I come from and sent right next day for me and he said, we got an opening here if you want to try it and I said, yeah I’ll give it a crack, you know, why not and it’s whisky and all, I’ll go up and see what they’re doing. So I went up and I looked and I went oh dear god, all these pipes and valves and I thought it’s a plumber you guys need, it’s not me and again that was, now that was thirty-two years ago, yeah.

01:40 I been a labourer I worked out in the warehouses and doing the grounds and then I came in to do the mashing. An old guy called Jimmy Carrick he taught me and, and I started in the mashing, that was my first step, if you like into the stillhouse. And when I started in there Jimmy come over one day and he didn’t speak much at all and he just said to me, how you getting on, son? And I said, ach it’s a job. I was twenty, I never thought what I was saying and he just looked at me and said, he shook his head and said well, you know, I don’t think this is for you, really don’t.. And I never understood what, what he meant at that point but over the next two or three years I did understand because like say, the job gets a grip of you and you, you start to feel very proud of what you’re producing.

02:25 I suppose I’m just a typical wee guy that wanted to play for Arsenal or Celtic or Rangers whatever, you know, I never had much, I didn’t know what I was going to do, to be honest with you. I got the chance to go into victualling eventually and I took that but I still love sport and I enjoy take subjects, you know, and my work, my work, I enjoy that. Wasn’t great at school I wasn’t at the other end of the class either you know, I just got on, I’m just the wee guy in the corner. I suppose who just worked away and just did his thing you know.

03:02 I came with my wife to, to live at the distillery, eventually we got a house and my family was born here, so going, that’s been the biggest turning point in my life because it’s been not only my life but my family’s life and my son now does his guide as well so they’re all pretty passionate about this wee distillery. It’s, it’s amazing like, you know, just how it gets a grip of you. Anyone can turn the steam on or turn the steam off, anyone can, can stand and look good but you, you’ve got to want, you’ve got to want to keep this right, you’ve got to want to get this recipe right, so it’s the person I would say.

03:42 And you’ll know very quickly if you want to do this job, once you come here, you’ll know if you want to actually want to make whisky, you might not want to do the shifts, you might not want to make whisky like at say five, five in the morning. But like I say there’s other areas in the industry if you want to.

03:55 END

Duncan M is Head Stillman at Glengoyne Distillery. “We have a recipe which has been handed down and you obviously want to do the same as the people before you”. He has been at the distillery for 32 years.

More information about Food, drink and tobacco process operatives

average salary

The UK average salary is £28,758

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

30%  female 
70%  male 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future Employment

Future employment?

? Food, drink and tobacco process operatives set, operate and attend machinery to bake, freeze, heat, crush, mix, blend and otherwise process foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco leaves.
There are no formal academic entry requirements, though some GCSEs/S grades can be an advantage. Off- and on-the-job training is available. NVQs/ SVQs in Food and Drink Manufacturing Operations are available at Levels 1, 2 and 3. NVQs/SVQs in Tobacco Processing are available at Level 2.
  • Sets, operates and attends machinery and ovens to mix, bake and otherwise prepare bread and flour confectionery products;
  • Operates machinery to crush, mix, malt, cook and ferment grains and fruits to produce beer, wines, malt liquors, vinegar, yeast and related products;
  • Attends equipment to make jam, toffee, cheese, processed cheese, margarine, syrup, ice, pasta, ice-cream, sausages, chocolate, maize starch, edible fats and dextrin;
  • Operates equipment to cool, heat, dry, roast, blanch, pasteurise, smoke, sterilise, freeze, evaporate and concentrate foodstuffs and liquids used in food processing;
  • Mixes, pulps, grinds, blends and separates foodstuffs and liquids with churning, pressing, sieving, grinding and filtering equipment;
  • Processes tobacco leaves by hand or machine to make cigarettes, cigars, pipe and other tobacco products.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Food products 69964
Wholesale trade 17648
Food & beverage services 16111
Retail trade 12698
Employment activities 2788
Beverages & tobacco 2508
Agriculture, etc 1336
Employment status
Skill importance

From personal careers advice to finding work, see our round-up of
useful websites to help you on your way

Explore more videos by: