With only a few months left until the release of our first Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky, we thought it might be time you got to know a bit more about the merry gang that make the stuff. Notoriously difficult to pin down, we finally managed to bribe Sarah, the newest member of the distilling team, into giving us a bit of insight into what brought her to the Cotswolds Distillery.
NAME, HOME TOWN, AGE
Sarah MacLellan, Bruichladdich Isle of Islay, 25
HOW DID YOU COME TO JOIN THE COTSWOLDS DISTILLERY?
I was looking for a job in the industry for about a year before I moved to the Cotswolds, working at Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich to bulk up my CV. I did A LOT of talking to people in the industry... boring people to death with my insane enthusiasm for whisky, just to catch a break!
Then I had a chance encounter with Dan and Nick (on separate occasions) in my dad’s pub in Port Charlotte on Islay [Sarah comes from an Islay pedigree – her family run the Lochindaal Hotel, frequented by all the Industry Greats]. I sat and spoke to Dan and Paul Beckwith in the pub over a whisky... or two. I few months later Nick walked into the bar, we got talking and he let slip he was a head distiller... I then proceeded to basically shout everything I knew about whisky at him for a few hours. Poor guy.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO WHISKY IN THE FIRST PLACE?
It's hard to say really. On Islay whisky is the staple diet... just kidding. I remember tasting blended whisky for the first time when I was about 8, my granny Rosie used to give us some when we felt ill... I seem to recall feeling worse? I remember the first single malt I really enjoyed, also my dad's and my papa's favourite, Lagavulin 16.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE PROCESS/ BIT OF THE DISTILLERY?
The mash! Definitely. It's the hardest in terms of physical activity but it's always fun to see if you can run up the stairs before the underback runs dry when you're cleaning...
ANY EMBARRASSING BITS YET?
Well I've broken a few things. Nothing expensive though! I did rip my trousers in an unflattering place the other day when I bent over, and I've fallen up the stairs in front of a tour as well... Don't think they noticed though.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT DRINKING COTSWOLDS, OF COURSE, WHAT’S YOUR WHISKY OF CHOICE?
I'm a huge fan of sherried whisky. My favourite is an expensive one, Bunnahabhain 25yr. I can only afford to drink it once a year but it is amazing!
IS THERE ANYTHING NEW IN WHISKY-MAKING YOU’D LIKE TO TRY DOING?
I make my own wine back on Islay, made from the very common and very spiky gorse bush. It smells and tastes like bubblegum! I really want to see what happens when it's distilled :) Fortified bubblegum wine anyone?