Explore: Food production

Distillery Manager
Glengoyne Distillery

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Robbie H

00:02 My name’s Robbie H I’m the whisky distillery manager at Glengoyne. The fundamental part of it is ensuring that the product that gets to the bottle is Glengoyne whisky, making sure it’s absolutely perfect. That’s the easy part of it you know sometimes it’s, it’s also a lot of compliance, dealing with various government legislation as well. Dealing with contracts, loads of health and safety, environmental you know all kinds of customs, revenue.

00:36 I left school at the age of seventeen with really no sense of direction there was 3 million people unemployed at the time you know so there wasn’t really an employment market as such, I fancied a couple of months unemployed but my father told me ‘you’re gonna have to get a job, Robbie’, so there was a job at the whisky distillery rolling barrels, that was when I was eighteen. So I really just knocked on the door, the manager asked me to read one paragraph out of a book and because I could read he employed me and that was as much of the interview was back then for me it was a job for the winter, that was what I saw thought it was.

01:14 I started in October and I thought if this sees me ‘til the spring then I’ll get myself a proper job if you like, you know, and here I am twenty five years later slowly worked my way up through the career ladder going from one distillery to another over a number of years, picked up all aspects of there the production all aspects of management, all aspects of compliance until eventually came to Glengoyne distillery and became a distillery manager here.

01:43 My very first employ was a wee distillery called Balblair Distillery which is in Rosshire in the north of Scotland near a town called Tain. So I worked there for nine years that’s really where I sharpened my teeth, that’s where I rolled the barrels, I did the mashing, I did the distillation you know ran the still did all the hands on getting to know the job aspects and then once I was ready for the next step for the promotion then I had to move, and move my family as well to various other distilleries in Scotland and Glengoyne is what the thirteenth distillery I’ve worked at.

02:55 My old man he left school at 14 or 15 as they did back in the 1950s you know where he didn’t have any pieces of paper to his name, nothing at all, he’d failed the 11 plus which was the big deal back then, so he was then probably ear marked for a manual job, you know and he did a wee bit better than that, he did very well, just really through hard work but they encouraged me to stick in, do the best I could, came out of school with the O levels and you know some highers as well but didn’t have that sense of direction unfortunately. I mean I could have gone to college to do something I wasn’t interested in, you know which would have maybe be funded by my parents as well which I wasn’t really keen and I wanted to make some money. You know I wanted to leave school and I wanted to get some, get some cash to get out there and enjoy life.

03:08 And I never anticipated I’d be sitting at Glengoyne distillery near Glasgow all those years ago. I was fortunate to be in the industry I’m in, they always, they always do well they used to employ from within and promote from within as well and I had a good manager at the time who helped me do that. So I think it’s having, having someone that can help you and see that you’re a worthy person who can always encourage you and bring you on too.

03:35 There’s loads of investment in the industry now, through the bigger companies and the smaller companies as well, a lot of employment new distilleries getting built, distilleries coming out of mothballed you know it’s a, it’s as good as I’ve ever seen in the last twenty five years.

03:55 END


Robbie H is the Distillery Manager at Glengoyne. He left school at 18 to roll barrels and has worked his way up and now he’s “ensuring that the product that gets to the bottle is Glengoyne Whisky making sure it’s absolutely perfect.” He has worked in 13 distilleries gathering all the practical and management skills.

More information about Food, drink and tobacco process operatives

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

72%  male 
28%  female 

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.
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Employment status

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