Published: 07 Apr 2016
Sandy Jamieson is the distillery manager of Speyside Distillers LTD.
I take our two dogs, a Jack Russell called Izzy and Bichon Frise called Rocco, out for a walk every day before setting off for work. I live near Edinvillie which is 47 miles from Speyside Distillery but travelling to work is never a chore, driving through the magnificent Cairngorms scenery to the distillery near Kingussie. It’s also a good time to think about the day ahead and do some forward planning.
I’ve been manager at Speyside for three years and my career in the industry spans 37 years. During that time I’ve worked for some of the big names in the drinks industry, but Speyside Distillery is whisky making on a different scale.
As a small craft distillery there are no computers or automation, it is all very hands-on and manual. It’s like how things were across the industry when I started out and because there is no computer to say what’s wrong, there’s more problem solving to do if any issues arise.
The nearest shop is a 10-minute drive away so I always bring my own lunch to work. Lunchtime is a chance to sit down with a cup of coffee and a sandwich and attend to any telephone messages and e-mails. It’s also a chance to have a chat and a catch up with my colleagues. There are four of us at Speyside Distillery and everyone has a real can-do attitude, and is always willing to help each other.
Speyside Distillery is not open to the public, apart from during the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, but we receive VIP corporate partners from all over the world, particularly Asia and Europe where our SPEY single malt whiskies are best known. Our visitors love the location of the distillery, a former mill located near the River Tromie, which is a tributary to the River Spey, and there’s no doubt it is a very picturesque setting.
They come and see round the distillery, and taste some of the expressions of SPEY in the dram room. I enjoy sharing the story of our company and its expressions with them and answering their questions.
There are two pot stills and we produce 600,000 litres of alcohol per annum. There’s no spirit stored on site, it is taken by tanker every eight days to our bonded warehousing facility at Rutherglen in Glasgow for maturation.
It’s an hour’s drive home, and after I’ve had my meal with my wife Kate, I’ll take the dogs out and I might unwind with the newspapers or a book; I enjoy autobiographies. We’ve got five grandchildren, and three live across the road from us, so we’re fortunate in that we see a lot of our family. I like doing a bit of woodwork, and I’m also a collector of pocket watches. I pick them up on my travels at places like antique fairs and I’ve got 40 in all, the oldest one from 1830. Before bedtime, I enjoy a night cap of SPEY 18-year-old.