Home » Women in STEM » How to use STEM skills for distillery

Katherine Condon (pictured)

Distiller, Midleton Distillery, Irish Distillers, Co. Cork home of some of the world’s most loved Irish whiskeys, including Jameson

The career opportunities STEM offers are vast and varied. Katherine Condon shares her experiences of how science and engineering helped her to become a distiller.

As science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers go, the job of a distiller is probably not one that comes to mind immediately.

However, brewing and distilling is a sophisticated, technical industry, and one that offers plenty of job opportunities for graduates.

Engineers play a fundamental role in the distillation and bottling processes. As a business, we want to make sure that we have a pipeline of talent to meet our business needs, now and in the future.

I joined Irish Distillers in 2014 as part of the Jameson Graduate Distiller Programme, during which time I learned from some of the best in the business.

I was given the skills and opportunities to grow while also experimenting with new mash bills and distillates in the Micro Distillery, the distillery’s innovation hub in Midleton.

Today, six years later, I am a distiller reporting to Master Distiller, Kevin O Gorman.

Understanding the skills required to be a distiller

To have a successful career in distilling, you will need a healthy interest in science to understand how the brewing and distillation process works, essentially learning how to turn a beer into a clear spirit.

As a chemical engineering graduate, I joined with a good understanding of mechanical engineering, which is also important when you are working with pumps, pipes, and pot stills.

I believe that the job of a distiller is the coming together of science and passion. As a distiller, I experience the whiskey process, from grain to glass.

Good technical skills are vital to understanding how every process parameter can affect the flavour profile of the distillate.

Creative skills are important too, as innovation breathes fresh life into the brands and helps to grow our portfolio of whiskey.

The Jameson Family motto, which is found on every bottle of Jameson, is “Sine Metu” meaning “without fear,” and we definitely take this approach when it comes to innovation.

I believe that the job of a distiller is the coming together of science and passion. As a distiller, I experience the whiskey process, from grain to glass.

From monitoring the grain coming through the gates and producing high quality whiskey, to appreciating a good quality whiskey with friends and family; knowing how much hard work, craft, passion and time has and been put into the production process.

The Jameson Engineering Graduate Programme launched this year, offering graduates a two-year placement in a world-class whiskey production team either at Midleton Distillery, Cork or Irish Distillers operations plant in Dublin.
For more information about the programme and the application process, see jamesongraduateprogramme.com/graduate-engineer

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