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By Yvonne Granger
Posted on: 07 February 2005
They walk the walk. But can they talk the talk?
That's the question facing Distillery Manager, Robbie Hughes.
David Somerville and Bill McDowall, guides at Glengoyne for two years, are slipping out of their tartan trousers and into boiler suits to train in whisky production.
If they meet Glengoyne's exacting standards, they will be running mashes, distilling spirits and filling casks in our dark and airy warehouses.
It's going to be a challenge! They have to adjust to a whole different pattern of life. The distillery is in production 24 hours a day, five days a week, and they will be working shifts - 6am till 2pm, 2pm till 10pm and 10pm till 6am.
But at least they have a very good grounding. All Glengoyne's guides
spend a week working in the distillery to get a thorough grasp of the production process before being unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
David and Bill had no experience of whisky production before joining the highly professional guiding team - considered to be the best and most knowledgable in Scotland.
David's background is in commercial photography and management. Bill is a reformed journalist. The stresses of being news editor of The Herald, Scotland's largest selling daily broadsheet newspaper forced him to retire early. Now 54, he's turned a life-long interest in whisky, into a new career.
"Glengoyne has been a life changing experience for me," he said. "Imagine the difference. I swapped a daily commute to Glasgow through rush hour traffic for a gentle drive through rolling countryside. Arrive early and spend 10 minutes relaxing with a coffee on the balcony overlooking our lochan and waterfall. Then have the pleasure of taking visitors from all over the world round 'Scotland's most beautiful distillery'.
"I work with the friendliest and most professional team of guides and production staff I have ever met. Stress? What stress?"
David and Bill's confidence is rightly high, but please be assured that the production team will be on the lookout for any mistakes from our 'new recruits'. They are justly very proud of Glengoyne and there is no way David and Bill, 'toddlers' on the path to making fine single malt, will be allowed to work unsupervised until the mashmen and stillmen are completely satisfied that the reputation of Glengoyne is in safe hands.
Moreover, the pair are not lost to guiding, when not working in production they will continue to entertain and inform visitors with an even deeper level of distillery knowledge.
David and Bill, the best of luck from us all!