March 22, 23 & 24
How Cameron McCann, Co Owner of Stirling Distillery Manages His Distillery
Cameron McCann, Co-Owner of Stirling Distillery shares his insights on the day-to-day operations of running his distillery.
1) What has your career been like? Tell us a little about your background.
I started work in the late 80s as a police officer in London. After 15 years I transferred back to Scotland, I retired in 2007 at the age of 40. It was then that my wife and I started our first business - an art gallery and whisky shop Ealaín Gallery on the banks of Loch Lomond. We expanded and opened a second whisky shop, this time in Stirling, started the Stirling Whisky Festival in 2010, and soon afterward established the Stirling Gin Festival - one of the first Gin Festivals in the UK. We realized when hosting the gin festival that no one in Stirling made gin.
2) Your role as an Owner, define your role and responsibilities specifically.
I am a co-owner with my wife June. We both play different roles in the company – June has more of a creative role and I manage business development.
Image: Stirling Distillery; Source: Stirling Distillery
3) What is your sales involvement and what's your sales process for new markets?
I play a pivotal role in sales, nationally and internationally rather than locally. We are working with a range of businesses and consultants to export our products to international markets. Our brand gets a great deal of attention internationally because of our focus on Stirling's history through our product range.
4) What's your elevator pitch for your brand when you have your team knock bars or you pitch bars?
Distilled, bottled, and labeled in the shadow of Stirling Castle, we are Stirling’s first legal distillery on the castle rock. Steeped in Scottish history, we’re putting whisky back on the map in Stirling. From whisky casks to limited edition whisky sets, we have a range of options for whisky enthusiasts. Known for our award-winning London dry gin made with foraged Stirlingshire nettles, our unique craft gins range from the classic to the eclectic, celebrating local history and folklore. A small family-run distillery creating hand-crafted spirits in the historic ‘Old Smiddy’ building. Sample our 55% battle-strength gin commemorating the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge, try our Bloody Scotland cocktail designed for the annual Crime Writing Festival, or create your very own gin at our award-winning gin school. We offer daily gin and whisky tastings, distillery tours, and a weekly gin school. “Spirit from the heart of Scotland”.
5) What are the typical floor challenges at the distillery
Our biggest challenge is space. We have renovated a beautiful Victorian building which has limited space. We have expanded into a separate warehouse for storage and bottling so we have space to expand into whisky distilling.
Image: Stirling Gin
6) What quality measures do you have in place to ensure the consistency and quality of your spirits?
We run a series of tests for each batch. This of course hinges on a flavor test, checking the alcohol and nose and comparing it against previous batches.
7) How do you ensure that distillery equipment is used effectively and maintained correctly?
We prioritize good work hygiene and clean spaces. Employ good people
8) How do you think a distiller can help in driving marketing and sales personally?
The distiller is an extension of the brand. They live and breathe the products and put their passion into product development. The distiller ensures the consistently high quality of the products.
9) Define a good distiller.
A good distiller is flexible and adapts flavours and keeps on top of training and trends. A good nose for flavour combinations… confident to manage internal and external auditing, understanding legal and regulatory framework.
10) Monitoring costs during the production process: where do you pay the most attention to
The distillation process is our priority. It’s the liquid that is most costly.
11) What are the health and safety compliance processes you have in place and what part of the process needs your closest attention
We work in line with the HACCP plan for the production and bottling of spirits. The HACCP follows Codex Alimentarius principles. We always keep work surfaces lean and clean keeping the floor and exit doorways clear.
12) How and when do you plan distillery equipment maintenance
We ensure rigorous weekly cleaning of equipment as well as regular check-ups on machinery.
13) What portals do you use for hiring your distillery staff and what are the 2-3 common questions you ask anyone for any role to see if they are a good culture fit
We use Indeed job search. Our questions vary depending on the role, but we always seek those who are keen to get stuck into any role within the team and will fit well into the family business. Everyone who comes to work for us brings more than just the required skill set, so we always look to leverage their range of skills.
14) How do you Identify ways to improve the distillery
We look at our sales and feedback from distillery visitors and look to continuously evolve
15) What is your idea of a good life?
Love what you do. Life is not a dress rehearsal, you don't get a second go at it, so use your time wisely. Life can be a challenge but if you love your work, you’ll be more invested and more successful in what you do.
Header Image: Cameron McCann; Source: Instagram