Meet the Maker: Colin Gordon

Colin Gordon, Distillery Manager, Ardbeg

Q: Where do you work?
A: We are located on the south side of the beautiful Isle of Islay; one of the world’s most iconic distilleries.

Q: How long have you worked for the company?
A: I have been at Ardbeg for 18 months. In total I have been working in the whisky industry for the past nine years.

Q: Describe the production process
A: We are still a very traditional and manual mashing process where we mash in highly peated malt. This is fermented for 66 hours then put through our stills. The spirit stills have a purifier connected from the lye pipe back into the still which encourages reflux. This ensures the spirit we make here is the perfect balance of peat smoke and citrus/herbal notes.

Q: What’s a typical working day like?
A: Very varied. I will spend time with the team on site looking through issues around production, safety, morale and ensuring we are making spirit to the correct quality. We have a very tight team here, so it is a great atmosphere on site.

Q: Please provide tasting notes
A: Ardbeg 10 year old – wonderful balance of peat smoke, sweet, citrus and spice.

Q: What would you say sets your product apart from others?
A: The balance between smoke and fruity sweetness. Ardbeg went through a terrible time in the 1980s and 1990s – the site was closed through the 1980s. The support and love of the whisky from our fans has allowed us to go from strength to strength.

Q: What one fact should bartenders know about your brand?
A: We can be mixed as well as drunk neat! There’s a huge variety of flavours throughout our core range so there is massive opportunity to play with our whiskies.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?
A: The people. I work with a great team and am really honoured to walk into this beautiful site every day.

Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your product?
A: I tend to drink my Ardbeg neat. However, I am a big fan of Ardbeg in a Penicillin cocktail!

Q: What’s your career highlight so far?
A: Commissioning the new still house. We brought our new stillhouse online in 2020 and it was a special moment to see spirit running through the safe for the first time.

Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?
A: There are so many great people working in the whisky industry. Bill Lumsden is a master of his craft with us at the Glenmorangie company. His lead in putting together the core range of Ardbeg has helped shape the love of the whisky worldwide.

Q: How do you relax outside of work?
A: I have two young daughters who keep me busy in my spare time! I am a lover of music and play guitar and drums. If time allows I love a visit to McDiarmid Park to see St. Johnstone in action.

Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?
A: I would have to go for my wife Rosie, Gleneagles Hotel and drink some Ardbeg cocktails!