OUR MASTER DISTILLER
Arbikie’s Master Distiller, Kirsty Black, while only thirty-three years old, has already achieved a stellar career path. We learn more from Kirsty why Arbikie has captured her spirit.
Kirsty Black on her role as Master Distiller at Arbikie
I am the Master Distiller at Arbikie – a role I feel passionate about and really enjoy doing.
I started my career as a Quality Engineer working with medical devices. I worked in England and Switzerland before I decided to do a Masters Degree in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. It furthered an interest I already had developed through home brewing and working in maltings (where where cereal grain is converted into malt by soaking it in water for brewing and distilling) during summer holidays.
During my Masters Degree, I realised that I really enjoyed distilling. Before I had always assumed it would be brewing that I would like best. I discovered it was an amazing process to put everything together and produce a clear liquid that could be flavoured in any way.
I had two brewing jobs – one in a major brewery and the other in a micro-brewery. During this period I also helped to build a distillery, select the equipment and create a new gin by working on and modernising an old recipe.
I joined Arbikie in January 2014 as Master Distiller to work with the Stirling brothers, John, Iain and David. It was an honour that they chose me to work with them as they built their own distillery and started making their own spirits.
I spent the first five months in Edinburgh working on project development and trials. It was an exciting day to start work at the new distillery and take charge of the state-of-the- art equipment. All our raw materials are grown on the Arbikie Highland Estate. This means that everything is farm to bottle and of excellent quality. It allows us to produce premium spirits of exceptional quality and taste.
There is a different dynamic working with a family business and it is a huge source of pride that we have built the distillery and become operational within a year. Most similar projects take four or five years to achieve this. We did it all ourselves.
One of my favourite moments was when the equipment arrived. It was all in pieces and we assembled it ourselves, bit by bit. It was such an achievement and looked so good when it was finished.
The tanks have arrived!
Now we are ready to launch Arbikie Vodka and it is a milestone moment in my career.
Kirsty Black on the future of Arbikie
Arbikie Vodka is the first of the spirits we will produce at the new distillery – we plan to produce gin and whisky in 2015. I am looking forward to the future. I have a keen interest in botanicals and can see lots of potential for working with the rich supply to be found in Angus.
One of the joys of working for a family business is that we will have a core range of drinks but can try out variations. Unlike most businesses which are very fixed, we have the flexibility at Arbikie to take one or two days off to try something new. For someone in my role, this offers the opportunity for further challenges and creativity that I will enjoy very much.
I relish that every day at Arbikie is different and full of challenges. Getting everything organised for the launch of our first product has been a challenge and there is a huge sense of achievement now we are there.
Learn more about the Arbikie Distillery.
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