A Day in the Life of an Archie Rose Senior Distiller: Lisa Truscott
Many people ask me what my nine to five looks like and I never have an answer for them. My role is varied and consists of many reactive tasks throughout the day. Most times I tell people that my job is just creative problem-solving. I’m here to support the production team needs for our distillers, cellar hands, sensory department and the leadership team. I am here to run the shift to make sure all tasks are completed.
These tasks involve (but are not limited to) brewing twice a shift, a wash run, a whisky spirit still run, two separate gin still distillations, whisky blending, gin blending for volumes from 35000 L to 20L, sampling many of our casks from our four warehouses, filling casks from new make spirit, moving those casks to their future home in the warehouses, organising the operations of the warehouses, dealing with any disruptions during the day, receiving deliveries of grain and casks, waste management from draff and pot ale, all included cleaning tasks and many more that add to the day to day. Currently, we are producing rum as well to add to the fun. While it is a demanding and taxing role, it definitely beats a standard nine to five.
As cartoonist Bill Watterson once said, “repetition is the death of magic”.
5am: Wake up, feel guilty about my alarm also waking my fiance so turn it off as soon as possible. Out the door by 5:30am.
6am: Greet the team, change into uniform, read the shift report from last night's shift and allocate tasks for the day to the team of distillers and cellar hands that I am working with today.
6:30am: I have the very lucky job of looking after our tailored whisky casks! These range from 20L, 50L to 100L casks. It’s a task I take very seriously as small casks mature much quicker than large casks and it's important to closely monitor this liquid. Today one of the casks had its first birthday, so it’s time for me to take a sample. I draw a 200ml sample, which I send to the owner, and write some tasting notes. It is always best to nose whisky early in the morning as your palate is as fresh as it can be. No coffee to muddle your tasting notes! Today I smell blackcurrant, green fruit pastilles, white pepper, cinnamon, and the classic cola notes I find in all Archie Rose whiskies.
7:30am: No matter how fun your job is, you can’t escape emails. I try to get them out of the way early to assist the teams in their daily tasks. Having read through, there are a couple of quick ones I can respond to today and a couple of harder ones I can ignore until tomorrow.`
8am: With four brews a day, we go through a lot of grain, so we receive a grain truck every second day. The 26t truck reverses into place directly in front of our grain intake auger and we set everything up. I open up all the valves and the grain is transferred from the truck into one of our eight x 40 000 tonne silos. Today we are unloading Chocolate Malt from our friends at Voyager Craft Malt in the Riverina region of NSW. The smell of coffee and chocolate permeates the air. While the grain is transferring, I chat to the truck driver. We mostly, always, talk about dogs.
9am: The Archie Rose distillery runs on boiler steam and coffee. Two very important energy injections into the operations of day-to-day runnings.
9:15am: Ask any brewer or distiller what they do, they will tell you it’s cleaning. 90% cleaning and 10% production. With lots of different tasks going on during the day, it’s important to make sure the place is looking tidy. Whether it is cleaning IBCs for the next whisky blend or cleaning the drains from the brewhouse, it all needs to be done so we roll up our sleeves and work together.
11:30am: Time to take a break and check in with the team. The brews and whisky stills and two gin stills are running well and everything is going smoothly.
12pm: With the joys of global logistic challenges, our casks do not always arrive when we would like them to. Coupled with the fact we produce either Single Malt Whisky or Rye Malt Whisky for months at a time, our casks may be awaiting to be filled for a few months. Tie in the Sydney heat and humidity and our casks may need a little love before they can be filled. Did you know that casks are all held together by pressure? Alcohol would dissolve any glue that is used and it would just fall apart, which is why we continue the tradition of using barrels (which have been around for 4500 years!), so we need to tighten them back up again. I grab my gloves, hearing protection, a hammer and a hoop driver and repair any casks for the afternoon's filling event.
1pm: Once a week we have a crack team of our most technically minded distillers meet to deep dive into the intricacies of our operations. It is led by our Technical Specialist Distiller Jessedy and today I get to tag along. Jessedy highlights the issues we want to work on and the group works together to find solutions. This week, Jessedy has solved the issues of our rum stills taking too long! It makes our rum even tastier and also saves us on heating costs.
1:45pm: Every Thursday the whole production team gets together to talk about safety and maintenance, upcoming projects, updates from the week and team day outs (that one is very important). It’s a great time to make sure everyone is getting on the same page and to focus on the goals as a team.
2:30pm: After our Thursday meeting we try a sample from the sensory team to keep our senses sharp. Fish, our senior spirits blender has given us a new make sample of our highest scoring rye vatting! It’s wonderful to share the rewards from all our hard work as a team. The fruity, nutty and cereal characteristics aromas are very prominent and will develop nicely in a 200L New American oak cask for the next five years in our warehouses.