What does a master distiller do?
A Master Distiller was and is a master of the field of distillation, who has acquired his skills and knowledge over many years. Personal experience down to the last detail was even more important in the past, as there were far fewer technical monitoring options for distillation than there are today. While the profession of master distiller was originally defined relatively clearly, today it is much more diverse.
Originally, a master distiller was solely responsible for the consistent quality of the spirit produced. He monitored the raw materials used, the production process in pot stills or column stills and the consistently high quality of the unmatured distillate.
What are the tasks of a Master Distiller?
Even today, one of the most important tasks of the master distiller is quality monitoring in whisky production. However, most of the practical manufacturing processes at larger distilleries are carried out by one or more experienced employees who manufacture the New Make according to the recipes and specifications. The Master Distiller is therefore usually no longer present in the still house all day to monitor the processes. This is also because he often has many other tasks.
Master distillers are often something like the head of the distillery. The tasks they take on vary from distillery to distillery. Master Distillers are partly responsible for purchasing, quality control of raw materials, administration of finances and for the staff on site or delegate these tasks to other employees.
The Master Distiller is often also responsible for the development and composition of new whiskys or adjustments in style. Last but not least, the fully matured whisky is checked and evaluated by him, often in cooperation with the Master Blender or other experienced employees. So the Master Distiller can not only try - he has to!
In today’s world, Master Distillers are much more in the public eye than before. As the “face of the brand”, they are often of great importance for marketing and the public image. For this reason, Master Distillers travel a lot these days, they visit trade fairs and events all over the world to present new products and to get in touch with fans and the trade press.
How do you become a Master Distiller?
In the past, the prospective Master Distillers often learned the art of whisky making from scratch and thus only practically in the distillery. A typical career led from being an assistant to assisting the master distiller to the actual post.
Today most Master Distillers also have an academic degree. They have often studied the science of whisky, chemistry, biology or food science. But there is also the subject of distillation:
The private Institute of Brewing & Distilling in London offers basic courses in distillation, which then lead to a diploma. Those who successfully complete this can then take a Master Distiller course .
Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh offers a Master in Brewing and Distilling, which requires a degree in the above-mentioned subjects such as chemistry or food science and lasts one year.
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