Five unusual jobs in the whisky industry

Distillery cat

Looking for work in whisky? Here are five of the most unusual jobs the industry has to offer (with candidate recommendations for each).

Distillery Mouser

The ideal candidate would: be a cat with a proven record of mouse kills

A job open only to cats, but a job nonetheless (and once a key one at that). With especially warm environments, not much in the way of health and safety regulations and so much grain lying around for the taking, distilleries used to find themselves plagued by mice. Many therefore decided to introduce resident ‘mousers’, often to great effect. The tradition hasn’t been forgotten, even if health and safety has improved: Towser (pictured) amassed 28,899 kills during her lifetime for the Glenturret Distillery and has since been replaced by a new duo of resident cats.

Rick Smoker

The ideal candidate would: have a keen interest in lighting and maintaining fires

The perfect vocation for those partial to both pyromania and whiskey, particularly the Tennessee sort. State law dictates that whiskey produced therein must be filtered through maple charcoal before maturation (and plenty of it), and the charcoal doesn’t make itself. To this end Jack Daniel’s boasts something of a model candidate: Darren Lipham (pictured, left). Darren’s working day sees him constructing vast ricks of maple wood which he douses in 140-proof Jack Daniel’s spirit and then sets ablaze using a blow torch. After approximately two hours the charcoal is cooled, gathered up and filled into the distillery’s mellowing vats.

Leak Hunter

The ideal candidate would: be willing to spend long hours sharing with the angels

By no means the most romantic but certainly crucial is the job of the leak hunter. Employed within gigantic bourbon warehouses throughout the USA, teams of leak hunters spend their days following their noses and eyes in search of leaking whiskey barrels. Upon discovering a leak, a hunter will produce a handful of cedar chips and a mallet and begin repairing the barrel to minimise wasted bourbon.

Nose for Hire

The ideal candidate would: possess an unrivalled, even uncanny sense of smell

Many whisky producers employ the very best noses so that their products remain consistent. Some noses, however, work freelance – like Nancy Fraley’s. Nancy is hired by craft distillers to carry out ‘Nosing Services’ whereby she assesses the characteristics of spirits and advises accordingly. According to The Atlantic, Fraley once discovered that the scent of microwaved curry had entered barrels during maturation.

Coppersmith

The ideal candidate would: have one eye an artist’s and the other an engineer’s

Looking for an apprenticeship which combines tradition, manual skills, precision engineering, long-term prospects and whisky? You should consider becoming a coppersmith. Copper stills form the heart of whisky distilleries; they’re highly complex pieces of equipment requiring no small amount of design, engineering, fabrication, installation and maintenance. To many whisky fans they’re also considered things of beauty, and understandably so.

Sherry Cask Dealer

The ideal candidate would: be a hispanophile with an insatiable passion for both sherry and timber

A far cry from being considered mere containers during the days of export between Spain and England, sherry casks are now the stuff or legend in the whisky industry. Needless to say, they’re also expensive. The Fine Cask Company was set up to procure high-quality, aged sherry casks for use in the whisky industry. Casks go through rigorous quality checks and reparations before they are deemed sufficiently fit to mature whisky.

Distillery Mouser

The ideal candidate would: be a cat with a proven record of mouse kills

A job open only to cats, but a job nonetheless (and once a key one at that). With especially warm environments, not much in the way of health and safety regulations and so much grain lying around for the taking, distilleries used to find themselves plagued by mice. Many therefore decided to introduce resident ‘mousers’, often to great effect. The tradition hasn’t been forgotten, even if health and safety has improved: Towser (pictured) amassed 28,899 kills during her lifetime for the Glenturret Distillery and has since been replaced by a new duo of resident cats.