Whisky Taster Kate Wright | Not your stereotypical single malt drinker
A Taste Of Success – Whisky Taster Kate Wright – Not your stereotypical single malt drinker
Not your stereotypical single malt drinker, Kate Wright, 28, travels around the globe educating people about whisky as part of her job at Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. Kate reflects on the various stages that have led to her current post as sales and marketing executive which incorporates the role of ‘whisky taster’.
“Having studied languages at university, I wanted a job that involved travel and would allow me to use the language skills I had gained. When I began at Springbank distillery five years ago I was working in exporting, and was in charge of Southern Europe as I had studied French and Hispanic studies. After my first year at the distillery, the sales manager left and I took on new markets, becoming jointly responsible for all sales and marketing activities.”
On joining the distillery, Kate gained practical experience as part of her training to understand the whole process of whisky production, working in the malt barns and still house, which she found extremely useful. Kate explains, “Gaining the practical experience provided me with a valuable understanding of the entire distilling process, and has helped me in my current role. As sales and marketing executive, my job entails travelling to whisky festivals and fairs around the world. In February of this year I was in Japan for five days and then New Zealand, which was hosting its first ever whisky festival where I offered specialist whisky tastings.
“The audience for tastings can range from 15 to 150 people, and I usually bring along 5 or 6 different whiskies to sample. I begin by talking about Springbank, giving a brief history of the distillery and promoting what makes the Springbank malt so distinctive. I then move on the tasting, talking through the stages of nosing, tasting and explaining the varying aromas.
“The other aspect of my job is based in Campbeltown, showing people around the distillery. I am originally from Campbeltown, and find it very rewarding to promote my home town, telling visitors about its heritage and history. They are not just buying whisky, but are taking in the whole Scottish experience and all that accompanies it, as the whisky industry is so specific to Scotland.
“What I also enjoy about my role is that working in a small company, the job has a lot of variety and I get involved in several areas at the distillery. I particularly enjoy travelling and meeting a broad range of people, although sitting around at airports is one of the drawbacks!”
Kate’s describes her future aspirations, “I want to keep doing what I am doing as I enjoy my job and find it very rewarding. I want to continue to promote Campbeltown as a whisky producing region, and with the opening of the new Glengyle distillery in 2004 and its first bottling scheduled for 2012, it is an exciting time. There will be more choice to offer and promote, which I am very much looking forward to.”
The whisky industry is often perceived as a male dominated industry. Kate believes that in certain ways this is still the case, but that there have been noticeable changes, both in terms of women working in the industry and those attending the tastings.
“Overall, whisky is still a male dominated industry, particularly in terms of men working within the sector. However, there are more and more women appearing at tastings and whisky festivals – and not just with their husbands or boyfriends! They still only ever make up a maximum of a quarter of the audience though. It is also a widely held belief that women prefer lighter tasting whiskies due to their feminine pallet. However, I have found quite the opposite during tasting sessions with many women preferring smoother, more heavily peated malts. Whether male or female, it all comes down to personal taste.
“When I started out in the industry as a female of 23, I think some men thought it was a bit of a novelty, and would sometimes try to catch me out with a tricky question during my tasting sessions. On the plus side though, what better way to immediately tackle all the stereotypes that whisky is an old man’s drink, than a tasting hosted by a woman. It makes people question their perceptions before the tasting has even begun. I would say that during my five years at Springbank distillery however, the industry is definitely changing and more and more women are working in the industry – both tasting and making whisky.”
The Whisky Coast is a company formed through collaboration between sixteen distilleries, three tour companies, eighteen hotels, restaurants, golf courses and attractions on the West Coast of Scotland. The Whisky Coast aims to raise the profile of the West Coast as an area blessed with a high concentration of distilleries against the backdrop of a dramatic rugged coastline.
For more information regarding The Whisky Coast visit www.whiskycoast.co.uk