Another in our occasional series of Tweet-style interviews. As always, it’s 140 characters or less (we don’t count the spaces) in the answers from the distillery manager of Lagavulin. Georgie Crawford left Islay at thirteen to live on the mainland. In her work life, among a few other places, she spent some time at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society before joining Diageo. She returned to Islay a few years ago to take over the management of Lagavulin.
What’s the view from your office window?
Today it is blue skies and green rolling fields full of sheep. I can also see my house, and now it’s sunny I can see I need to clean the windows!
Get a little man in for that! What’s happening at Lagavulin this week?
Really busy on distilling as usual, but focusing on pulling together final details of our Fèis Ìle program before the tickets go on sale.
What’s happening for Fèis Ìle [Islay Festival] at Lagavulin this year?
Can’t say yet, BUT the staff have outdone themselves with great ideas to entertain our loyal visitors. We are finalizing the Fèis bottling too; another cracker in 2014.
We have focused our efficiency and are making more Lagavulin than ever. With the growth in whisky it all counts so we are glad we will have more whisky for the future.
Sounds great. You were looking at re-use of waste energy, etc. Progress?
There’s a new project on this in the pipeline (no pun) and we have optimized the stillhouse energy. I’m happy with the results to date.
What do you mean by optimized here?
By managing distillation temps we can get better heat transfer in our pre-heat heat exchangers, which saves the steam usage at site.
I was going to say ‘cool,’ but not if it’s steam! Very efficient. I’ve met your new female colleague, also called Georgie. A new Diageo hiring policy?
Georgie Bell. We haven’t met yet as she had to call off her visit due to winter gales. She also worked at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society which is just spooky!
Some mainlanders who now live on Islay run back every couple of months for some R&R. You?
No! I love the islands so much that this year’s trips are Orkney & Iceland! It’s the year of the seafaring Vikings in our house!
I know you like to travel. Are those destinations for work or pleasure?
Both for pleasure; you need to leave the whisky behind sometimes. (Or maybe pack a little bottle in your luggage.)
Sounds reasonable. You traveled far this last year, I hear. Where and why?
China on holiday for the culture and heritage. I will remember the view on top of the Great Wall forever. The Terracotta Warriors were also amazing.
What else fills your non-work time?
Our new puppy Sidheag (means wolf) is taking up most of my free time of late. She is driving me and poor 8 y.o. Jock, the Westie, mad!
Fabulous. Another Westie? And I was going to ask how Jock was enjoying island life…
She is a lab cross wire-haired pointer who will hopefully be a gun dog down the line. Jock is standing his ground and loves the longer walks!
Jock not bossed around then. You like cooking; any signature dish? Are your Lagavulin chocolate truffles in the shop there?
I can’t poison the customers! I make a mean lasagna, its bacon that’s the secret ingredient. Can’t beat my homemade shortbread with a cup of tea.
You were going to be starting a vegetable garden…
We should all have aspirations in life and try to live our dreams but if you saw my cauliflowers you would say, “Stick to making whisky!”
Okay, we will. Are there any distillers you particularly admire (anywhere)?
Pre-Diageo, I was just a whisky anorak. I will always remember John MacLellan spending time with me. Billy Stitchell [at Caol Ila] was my in-house go-to.
What would be your desert island dram? Doesn’t have to be Lagavulin!
Only one – impossible! Lagavulin Jazz 2010 from home or Longmorn 15 yo, Talisker 18 yo or Balvenie 12 yo depending on my mood and the weather!
Great choices, if too many. And it’s all over! Hope that wasn’t too testing and thank you so much.