Distillery team leader at Aber Falls Whisky Distillery, Sam Foster, shares his career highlights, top tips, and how you can also join the team
Sam Foster, distillery team leader at Aber Falls Whisky Distillery, is one of the brand’s most long-standing employees, working for the company for almost five years. During his time working for the first whisky distillery in North Wales for more than 100 years, Sam has had the opportunity to work his way up the business and further his qualifications and experience as a skilled distiller.
Day-to-day at the distillery, Sam is responsible for production and spirits planning for the year. Planning sees the 28-year-old focusing on improving yields, new product launches and department reporting, and managing a team of seven.
Sam’s career journey has been varied throughout the last ten years. The Bodelwyddan-born distillery team leader joined the British Red Cross as a community equipment engineer after realising university wasn’t the right challenge for him. At the British Red Cross, Sam volunteered in times of crisis by servicing, repairing, and delivering hospital beds, all of which made Sam realise he thrived on multi-tasking – a important quality for his future career at Aber Falls.
Eager to progress a career path and role more hands-on, Sam became aware of a position at Aber Falls Whisky Distillery through word-of-mouth, living in the area and local to Managing Director, James Wright.
Initially joining the team as a distillery operative, Sam was able to gain first-hand experience in distilling and the spirits sector whilst gaining support from the business to complete qualifications relevant to his job and the industry. Sam passed the General Certificate in Distilling through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) in 2018 and is now completing a diploma for Distilling.
Reflecting on his favourite aspect of the role, Sam said: “It’s the level of autonomy you’re given and the opportunity to work in areas, and on projects, you have a genuine interest in that give me such job satisfaction.
“For example, I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the creation, development and production of a limited-edition Cask Aged Gin – a gin matured in an orange wine cask – which we recently launched in January. I have an enormous sense of job satisfaction working on a project from start to finish, but most of my pride comes from knowing the public can now enjoy the limited-edition Cask Aged Gin – it’s special.”
For those who might be interested in following in Sam’s footsteps and starting a career in the world of spirits, the distiller recommends visiting distilleries in-person and looking into relevant qualifications.
Speaking of his top tips, Sam added: “If you’re looking to get into the world of distilling, look into qualifications – such as the IBD Foundation Course – to showcase your passion and knowledge and help you stand out from other candidates. Some companies, including Aber Falls Whisky Distillery, offer this training as part of a role, which is great. Nevertheless, showing initiative to complete courses only helps get your foot in the door as you start your career.
“I would also suggest visiting the distillery in person to hand in your application. Not only does this demonstrate your dedication for the role, but it allows the company to get to know you – it’s something at Aber Falls we really notice and appreciate.”
Looking to the future, Sam is excited to complete his diploma and develop new whiskies. After the sell-out launch of its Inaugural Release Welsh Whisky in May last year and the 2021 Release Single Malt in September 2021, product launches are a focus for the team at Aber Falls.
For those interested in joining the team, Aber Falls Distillery has a host of exciting events and product launches coming up in the next year and is looking to expand its team with passionate and charismatic individuals.
There are plenty of areas of the business to get involved and There are plenty of areas of the business to get involved, and Aber Falls currently has vacancies available, including in the café and event teams and tour guides and a café supervisor. To apply, please hand in your CV at the distillery or email: [email protected].