Checkout talks to Ewan Paterson, visitor experience manager, Clonakilty Distillery.
How would you describe your role?
I look after the visitor experience team and the visitors that come through our door.
This includes training staff, managing distillery tours, the Minke Gin School, gift shop, online shop, and generally talking about whiskey to anyone that will listen!
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was as an apprentice electrical fitter with Scottish Power at the age of 16.
Going from a school classroom to a training centre workshop was a bit of a shock – no pun intended – but I learned everything from basic tool skills to the maintenance of 33,000-volt switches.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Meeting people from all over the world, sharing stories, and introducing them to Irish whiskey.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Hopefully still doing what I love – talking about whiskey.
Clonakilty Distillery will have some very special whiskey in another five years – the best things really do come to those who wait.
What is your advice to people starting out in the industry?
Do what you are interested in and don’t be afraid to take a chance. You can always change direction in your career further down the line if you are not enjoying yourself.
What was your worst job, and what was so bad about it?
Trainee cable jointer. During a company attempt to multi-skill craftspeople, I did some training to learn cable-jointing.
Standing in a muddy hole at 3am with the rain and wind on a cold winter night is not the best office I’ve ever worked in, so my former colleagues who work in difficult conditions to get electricity back on during power cuts have my utmost respect.
What do you think the government could do to help business in the current climate?
I think the Irish government have supported business well through the challenges of the pandemic.
A reduction on excise duty relating to premium spirits would always be welcome, and continuing support for the tourism industry is essential for the sector to recover.
What business people do you most admire, and why?
Richard Branson – from a record store designed to allow people to feel at home to where the brand is now, that is an inspiring story.
John Teeling – John had the vision to see the potential for the Irish whiskey industry when nobody was investing in it.
If it wasn’t for the work of Mr Teeling, along with those that had been continuing whiskey production throughout the seventies, we would be years behind where we are now.
What advertising campaign have you most enjoyed in recent months?
Most of the advertising I see is through social media, and I’m really liking what Poachers Drinks have been doing recently – strong imagery and great products.
If you could bring back one product that is no longer available in Ireland, what would it be?
I have only been living in Ireland for the last eight years, so I don’t have many products in mind, although I would be very happy if Jameson 12-year-old whiskey came back, after it was discontinued around five years ago.
What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up?
I used to love getting Angel Delight after dinner.
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
I’d love to have seen Freddie Mercury play live with Queen, so if they came for dinner, I might get a song afterwards.
What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
‘It’s a fright to be human.’ Being kind to yourself is a great lesson to learn because then being kind to others follows.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Photography is my escape. Taking my camera for a walk and finding a landscape to capture an image of is my perfect way to spend a couple of hours.
How much time do you spend on social media in an average week?
Too much! Probably a couple of hours a day.
Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?
Facebook for keeping up with friends around the world. LinkedIn for business contacts. I’m not a fan of Twitter – too much noise!
With which fictional character do you most identify?
Shrek! Scottish accent, similar physique, and I would happily live in the peace and quiet of the swamp.
Most likely to say …?
Is it your round?
Least likely to say …?