A Master Distiller and a Master Blender Walk Into a Distillery - The Whiskey Wash

A Master Distiller and a Master Blender Walk Into a Distillery

For all whiskey’s romance, working at a distillery is a lot like working in any other manufacturing plant or warehouse (only with a lot more mopping). If you’ve ever fantasized about working at a distillery, or just wondered what the heck the difference is between a Master Distiller and a Master Blender, here’s a guide for many of the most common job descriptions in the distilling industry.

Master Distiller: The Master Distiller is a highly skilled technical professional charged at the most basic level with ensuring the production of a great product. At smaller distilleries, the Master Distiller typically manages the mashing and distillation process, from grain receiving to barrel entry. He or she makes decisions about the fermentation process, evaluates distillate quality, makes cuts, and selects and fills barrels. At larger distilleries, the Master Distiller is often something more like a cross between a manufacturing plant manager and a brand ambassador.

Jimmy Russell

Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell is one who has definitely earned his title. (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Master Blender: The Master Blender makes decisions about the composition of spirits – selecting barrels, making blends, and ensuring consistency across batches. At small distilleries, the same person often holds the Master Blender and Master Distiller positions.

Production Manager: The Production Manager is typically an administrative role charged with managing the operations of the distillery, including managing inventory, ordering supplies, scheduling production, and shipping and receiving. The Production Manager may also manage staff scheduling.

Production Staff: Production staff fill a wide range of functions at the distillery, from cleaning and mopping to running stills, depending on their experience and training. At scotch distilleries, production personnel are typically sorted into brewers, who make the wash; stillmen, who distill the wash; and warehouse men, who get the distillate into barrels and properly stored.

Noser: A Noser is a very specialized position most often employed at large distilleries. Much like the Master Blender, the Noser is charged with ensuring consistency from batch to batch, evaluating distillate for quality and any potential flaws.

Brand Ambassador: Think of the brand ambassador as the public face of a brand. They’re tasked with traveling to promote the brand, holding educational events, partnering with major accounts to design promotions, giving interviews, and otherwise embodying a brand or family of brands to the general public.

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