A Day in the Life of a Glenfiddich Mashman

30 June 2013

Name: Mark Anderson 
Role: Mashman
Time at Glenfiddich: 6 Years

Mark checking the strength of the wash 

What's a typical day like as a Mashman?

No two days are ever the same here at the Distillery, so it’s hard to describe a typical day, but a large part of my role is of course managing the process of turning malted barely into wort, and then wash. The mash tuns play a big part in the process - hence Mashman.

In the Mash Tun the grist meets water from the Robbie Dhu Spring.

We receive delivery of specially sourced malted barley and the first job is milling the malt before adding it to Robbie Dhu spring water and heating it in the large mash tuns. Once the mash is completed we call the sweet liquid wort which we drain, cool and then transfer into our washbacks – wooden vessels that can hold up to 50,000 litres – this is where we add yeast to start fermentation. At this stage of the process, your Glenfiddich looks, smells and tastes a little like beer. Of course, we don't just sit and watch it ferment! We maintain the washbacks and the equipment, record temperatures of the wort to make sure everything is as it should be to ensure consistency. It's a job that requires real attention to detail.

Some of our traditional wooden Washbacks.

How has the process changed since you joined?

To be honest, not a lot has changed since I started at Glenfiddich. We've increased production due to popular demand for our whisky, which means a higher gravity style of mashing, more washbacks, more work for us – all good stuff! But the actual process has remained more or less the same. Where other distilleries are becoming increasingly automated, we still do things by hand. It's what makes us different from a lot of other distilleries.

Here the temperatures and gravities of the wort are recorded.

What is the most challenging part of the job?

We stick to a well-practiced process, but occasionally things can go wrong. A tiny change in temperature or in pressure can affect the quality of the liquid if we don't act fast. Luckily we're here twenty four hours per day should these things happen and we are always looking for ways to prevent these minor changes from becoming a problem so none of the precious liquid gets wasted.

Best thing about working at Glenfiddich?

I'd have to say it's my colleagues. The people I work with are all so knowledgeable and great to work with. I've worked at other distilleries in the past but nowhere like Glenfiddich. I've learned a lot by working here. Everyone is passionate about getting the job done and being part of a real team. 

Do you drink Glenfiddich?

I’m actually teetotal, but I love the distinctive smells and aromas around the Distillery - if you've ever visited us on a tour, you'll know what I mean. My brother is a big fan of the 15 Year Old; he says he loves the sweet notes. I'll just have to take his word for it.

If you could have a drink with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Probably my Dad. Sadly, he passed away nineteen years ago. But like the Distillery, family is important to me and I'd love to share a few moments with him, let him know how I'm getting on these days. He was a big influence on my life.

Life outside of Glenfiddich

I love cycling and running, being a Mashman is a demanding job and I like to stay fit and healthy. Other than that, I just enjoy spending time with my family. I have a wife and three kids and they mean everything to me.

What have you learned at your job that could help a single malt enthusiast get more out of their whisky?

To really appreciate the liquid in your glass, it helps to appreciate everything that goes on behind the scenes. If you were to take a Distillery tour, you'll see how much care and attention goes into every stage of the process here.

It's a family company, but there's also a family within a family, a team ethos at our Distillery that goes beyond work colleagues. We all look out for each other, we're all friends. So it's only fitting that Glenfiddich is a dram to be enjoyed with good friends.