An interview with Stewart Walker.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Stewart Walker (Distillery manager at Fettercairn) when I visited a few weeks ago ( 17th May 2019 )
When you arrive at the distillery, like so many others you are greeted with white walls and stunning scenery, you then walk past one of the warehouses and boy does the aroma give you a very warm welcome, something that continues throughout the visit !!
When introduced to Stewart the first thing you notice is just how down to earth he is, his passion is very obvious and while he showed us round the distillery you could sense the pride he has !
The whole visit was a real eye opener and great insight into the Fettercairn distillery, we all know each distillery does things a little different, incorporating slightly different production methods but Fettercairn really does do it a little different.
The use of cooling rings around the outside of the neck on the spirit stills in order to stop the heavier vapours from getting over the neck was certainly a surprise and as Stewart explained the concept and the fact of you turn them off you notice a difference within minutes certainly backed up the theory of using them !!
Stewart Walker, Distillery Manager, Fettercairn Distillery.
How long have you worked within the whisky industry ?
I have been in whisky industry for over 29 years.
What does whisky mean to you ?
Whisky to me is fantastic as we are producing a drink that is enjoyed all over the world and is used to toast the happy times and sometimes to reminisce and remember friends.
Where do you like to drink whisky ?
Personally I love a dram surrounded with family and/or close friends usually at home, in a local bar or at a barbecue, again it is usually signifying good times.
What has been the highlight of your career so far ?
That’s tough as there has been a few but the biggest highlight of my career was receiving the honour of being made a Keeper of the Quaich, it is so fantastic to be recognised by your peers.
Another outstanding highlight for me was taking over as manager at a time when the distillery was closed for major refurbishment.
You talk about the fantastic team at Fettercairn, can you give an example of what they mean to you ?
When we did the refurbishment it was so humbling to see the whole team at Fettercairn pulling together to get the distillery back in action and also to get it looking fantastic again. This is just a small example that goes to show what a great team we have at Fettercairn.
What do you enjoy most about the job ?
What I enjoy most is going into the warehouse at the distillery and closing the door behind me. It is just so quiet and peaceful with beautiful aromas, and then of course taking a sample and nosing it. This is so fulfilling as you know that this is something that we have made and should be very proud of.
What has surprised you most about the job ?
The most surprising thing about my job is actually how diverse it can be, one minute you can be helping the guys repair a pump at 4am in the morning and later that day you are showing VIPs around the distillery. No one day is the same at any other.
What do you see in the future for whisky ?
In terms of the future, I hope single malt continues to thrive with more and more people exploring the variety of what is on offer.
The industry has grown so much but it’s great to see how well everyone is doing and how supportive the distilling community is of each other.
I would like to thank Stewart and the whole team at Fettercairn for the very warm welcome which helped make this an incredible visit, also to Stewart for taking the time to sit with us and chat about all things whisky.. Also a thank you to Susie from elucidate for the help in arranging everything.