LinkedInCraig Johnstone

Craig Johnstone

Distiller at Lark Distillery, Cambridge, Tasmania, Australia

Location
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Industry
Wine and Spirits
Current
  1. Lark Distillery
Previous
  1. Maritime and Merchantile International (MMI),
  2. The Bruichladdich Distillery Company Ltd.,
  3. Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Education
  1. The University of Edinburgh
Recommendations2 people have recommended Craig
Websites
500+connections

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Lark Distillery

Lark Distillery

Distiller

– Present

View full profile

Background

Summary

My most memorable industry moments have taken me from Scottish islands to Canada, from Spain to Mexico.

A year-long tour of Canada, from coast to coast, had me meeting some of the most enthusiastic traders and consumers the industry had to offer. I witnessed first hand how eclectic whisky drinkers are presenting alongside Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson for Australia Day, Chinese New Year and Burns’ night collective celebrations to a crowd of over 500 people.

I was honoured to learn and help build a cask in Jerez, Spain. Ageing Oloroso Sherry at this very moment, only to hold single malt Scotch Whisky in the future.

Closer to home, Islay and Orkney have been the locations of my most memorable drams chosen not by taste, but by surroundings and company, the moment … timing is everything. Enjoying a dram of local whisky on an Islay beach in spitting rain with great friends and good chat is almost impossible to beat, as is sipping a 25 year old single malt at midnight on the tranquil Orkney coast.

When I’m not guiding any given Society guest through a tasting experience, you’ll find me running, or cycling, and on rainy days I’ll visit a new distillery or lose myself in a book. For a loyal Hibernian Football Club fan, there’s no place I’d rather be than the halfway line at Hampden Park on a beautiful sunny day watching Hibs lift the Scottish Cup.

Specialties:Hosting Scotch Whisky tastings/tutorials and/or distillery tours, public relations, whisky knowledge, public speaking & entertaining, posses an expert palette, writing tasting notes, proficient in MS Office and presentations, international experience

Experience

Distiller

Lark Distillery
– Present (4 months)

Responsible for full production cycles of Single Malt Whisky, Gin, Liqueuers and Rum at Lark Distillery, Tasmania's Original Single Malt Distillery and first licenced since 1839.

We produce both peated and unpeated spirits, making whisky by hand in small batches relying on our senses to make our cuts and our natural environment when concocting our brews. All very hands on, all very innovative. Every day is a school day as we get to grips with our process and craft making some of the best new make and mature spirits in the world.

Single Malt Category Manager

Maritime and Merchantile International (MMI)
(1 year 5 months)Dubai, UAE

Marketing Manager for 23 Single Malt Distilleries working directly with 11 brand owners to distribute and market their Single Malts in the Middle East.

Commercial Responsibilities:
Ordering, Forecasting, Reporting and Brand Planning

Ambassador Responsibilities:
On-Trade and Off-Trade training, Writing Training Manuals, Curriculum Design and Conceptualising and Executing Consumer Events

Innovations:
Bespoke Whisky Events and Themes, Menu Design, Serving Rituals, Manufacturing of Useful and Unique Point of Sale Items and Training Kits

Business Development Manager

The Bruichladdich Distillery Company Ltd.
(1 year 3 months)Glasgow, United Kingdom

Brand Development, Trade Training, Consumer Entertainment, Driving Growth and Sales through Relationships and Interactions, Adding Value through Staff Training and Events

Ambassador (former On-Duty Bar Manager)

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
(6 years 6 months)

Member of Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) Tasting Panel
• Approve submitted whiskies for SMWS bottling
• Possess an expert whisky nose/palette

In-House Taster/Presenter
• Plan, organize and host on and off-site, corporate, distillery, private and special events including Taste of Edinburgh
• Tutored tastings: 3 - 50 people, beginner to connoisseur levels, explain production process, SMWS, instruct nosing/tasting methods, answer questions, most requested staff member for tastings
• Plan, organize, and host Fringe Festival 2009 tasting program (10 tastings, 220 people)
• Co-hosted in-house tastings alongside St. George’s Distillery Master Distiller David Fitt, Innis & Gunn Brewery Managing Director Dougal Sharp, Harviestoun Brewery Managing Director Chris Miller, Crombie Sausages Owner Sandy Crombie

On-Duty Bar Manager
• Train staff on service protocols and spirit education, open and lock-up premises, prepare deposits, cash out tills
• Advise guests on the vast range of Single Cask SMWS Whiskies, and other Society spirits (Armagnac, Rum, Bourbon, Cider Brandy)
• Whisky and food pairing, customer service
• Entertain guests on the nuances of spirits from production, aging, heritage, flavour and more

India Franchise Consultant/Ambassador
• Setup, host and speak at/for sponsored events in New Delhi, Gurgaon and Kanpur including the SMWS Haryana Polo Cup; SMWS and Oberoi 5 star hotel reception; Amex Platinum Card Holder Annual Dinner; New Delhi Single Malt and Cigar Club Gathering
• Train SMWS staff on all aspects of Scotch Whisky and SMWS, develop educational resources
• Consulted on membership acquisition strategies; event planning; general marketing and PR strategies and general office operations
• Represented SMWS at DISCUS New Delhi Bourbon tasting 2009 at Le Meridian Hotel
• Evaluated all aspects of business trip with SMWS executives: best practices; pros and cons
• 24 day tenure: 8th October 2009 – 1st November 2009

Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador

Maxxium Canada
(1 year 2 months)

• Conceptualize, organize and execute an Ambassador program for Western Canada, heightening the visibility and increasing awareness of The Edrington Group whiskies while managing a travel schedule within budget
• Personally trained by Gerry Tosh, Head of Brand Education for Highland Park
• Bar and retail Scotch whisky education and guided tastings of The Famous Grouse, Highland Park and The Macallan ranges for account management and staff to small (4 people) and large (50 people) audiences, building and maintaining key relationships with these accounts
• Retail consumer sampling events in partnership with provincial liquor control boards (i.e. L.C.B.O., B.C.L.D.B.) as well as small and large scale retailers (i.e. Liquor Depot)
• Masterclasses (up to 500 people) at all of Canada’s major festivals and events including Spirit of Toronto, Whisky Live Toronto, Victoria Whisky Festival, Vancouver Hopscotch, Canmore and Calgary Highland Games, Calgary Whisky in the Warehouse
• In-home/private tastings for consumers (raffle prizes, serious consumers/collectors)
• Interviews (newspaper, magazine, radio) and dinner introductions to higher end products for media
• Develop merchandise, tools, layout, content and delivery for tutorials, tastings and special events
• Contribute to national brand marketing and development
• Answer public queries concerning brands and/or products
• Internal staff training for Maxxium Canada
• Track targets and finances using internal and self-made reports
• Online articling
• Continual outstanding feedback on presentations

Distillery Tour Guide

Diageo, Glenkinchie Distillery
(4 years 7 months)

• Train distributors, retailers, SWA, Scotch Whisky Experience and Diageo staff on aspects of the industry and Glenkinchie
• Guided tours (groups of up to 30, all ages)
• Responsible for handling VIP visits
• Hosted tasting events for Foodies Festival Scottish Parliament, Stirling Castle, East Lothian Air Show
• Given the opportunity to question and tour with Global Brand Ambassadors, Tom Smith, Gordon Bell, Gregor Cattanach
• Personally trained by Distillery Manager Charlie Smith, Distillery Manager Kay Fleming, Operations Manager Duncan Tait, Operations Manager Bruce MacKenzie, Brand Home Manager Mary Darling, Brand Home Lead Guide Isobel Gardiner
• Completed Malt Advocates Course by Douglas Murray

Tour Guide

Scotch Whisky Experience (formerly Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre)
(8 months)

• Hosted tastings and tutorials which included process of malt, grain and blended whiskies
• Barman experience with proprietary drams from across the industry
• On-site store customer service representative, cashier

Skills

  • Category Analysis
  • Category Development
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Entertainment
  • Wine Tasting
  • Spirits
  • Scotland
  • Product Marketing
  • Social Media

Education

Honors & Awards

• Highland Park Bootcamp I – ‘Barley to Bottle’, Orkney 2008
• Highland Park Bootcamp II – ‘Acorn to Cask’, Spain 2008
• Media Training, Lex Public Relations Canada 2008
• Scottish Personal Licence Holder Qualification to Serve or Provide Alcohol, City & Guilds 2009
• Serving it Right BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program, Canada 2008
• Mixxit Mixology Class, Maxxium Canada 2008
• Barista Training, Artisan Roast 2009
• UK Driving Licence (full, clean), 2003

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