The “ A day in the life” series continues with a behind the scenes feature, although anyone who has watched any of the live tastings from Bruichladdich or had the pleasure of meeting some of the team at festivals may already know Christy.
Christy is generally one of the hard working people behind the scenes trying to make the live tastings go smoothly and asking Adam the questions from social media..
A day in the life with Christy McFarlane.
How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I started working in Ardbeg’s visitor centre at 16, and started doing tours at 18, around nine years say?
Can you tell us about your day to day job and what is involved.
I work in communications for Bruichladdich’s single malts. My day to day job is quite varied. I mainly work with our international markets on launching our new products, which keeps me busy with the frequency we release whisky.
Our department works a bit like an in-house agency, so we can be on social media, updating the website, hosting journalists, writing press releases all in one day. This job constantly challenges me. Doing this straight out of university, I’m proud that Bruichladdich place so much confidence in me to do a job they could have given to a more experienced person off the island.
Why did you decide on a career in the world of whisky
At first, I didn’t really see any opportunity for myself within the industry. I wanted to be a journalist and felt that Islay was a bit stifling. I wanted to break away from where I had grown up and the culture that came with. Seems a bit strange to think of it like that now.
Then at uni, I decided to change courses, got all my funding cut off for a year and needed to make money badly. I applied for just about every job going in Edinburgh and thankfully started working for Royal Mile Whiskies. The guys there were so knowledgeable I was determined not to be the girl that knew nothing. Another female colleague roped me into helping with the student whisky society and after you feel so welcomed into that community, there was no other option anymore. The people you meet along the way are what makes the industry. Sounds cheesey, but it’s true.
What has been your biggest highlight to date?
I wish I could tell you… but it’s all top secret for now.
What does whisky mean to you?
More than just drinking it, whisky is something to get really geeky about. I’ve never felt the same sense of excitement for any other drink. Fangirling about belt-driven Boby mills or open-topped mashtuns or mizunara oak or organic barley or rye or garryana oak.
I do feel like the Scotch industry has become terribly boring and that world whiskey has rightfully taken over, but there’s so much variation and opportunity to explore, it keeps me interested. Occasionally I do think of packing it all in and opening up a mobile coffee van though, Islay’s coffee scene is distinctly abysmal.
What is it that you enjoy the most about the industry
The family feel. I always think that the Feis Ile each year is like a high school reunion. I’ve met some amazing people from all walks of life just through working the festival. It makes you feel like you’ve got people watching over you that are genuinely interested in your well-being. In an industry where this is so much marketing-bullshit, the people who drink the stuff couldn’t be further from that world.
What has surprised you most about your job
It’s quite surprising how much I feel at home at Bruichladdich now. I remember the first Laddie day at festival, feeling it was just all wrong. When I’d moved over from Ardbeg, I felt like a bit of a traitor and normally on their day, we’d be wearing some crazy flamenco dress or metallic spandex leggings. On Bruichladdich’s day, I donned a t-shirt and was part of the media team. It was a completely different change of pace.
I never thought I’d be into foraging or terroir but this company is a huge part of my life now. More so than any other aspect in fact. We live, eat, breathe Bruichladdich because we believe in what we’re doing and because we’re all working as hard as each other.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
In the evening. After dinner. Roaster of a fire on. My friends call me a fireside alchi, an affectionate Scottish term for someone who often drinks in the house.
With all the NAS and various cask finishes available, what do you predict to be the next big innovation in whisky?
I would like to see a bit more experimentation done at the malting level, either with what grain is being used or how it’s malted. I’m quite comfortable that not all spirit made at a distillery in Scotland needs to be single malt Scotch whisky.
Have you got a favourite whisky?
How could you ever choose? Why would you ever want to?
(Above) the tractor boys are after you Christy.. You know why !!
I would like to give thanks to Christy from Bruichladdich for taking time to participate in this series and Bruichladdich for the use of these pictures.