The unsung heroes of Scotch whisky

1st February, 2019 by Amy Hopkins

Tour operators

Jonathan Wilson – Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery

Distilleries with top-rate visitor facilities will continue to benefit from growing consumer desire to connect with brands on a deeper level. Last year almost 2m people visited Scotland’s whisky distilleries, an increase of 14% on 2016, according to figures from the Scotch Whisky Association.

Jonathan Wilson is brand home visitor operations manager at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery – which houses the flagship visitor centre for Bacardi’s Scotch whisky business. “My job is to oversee day-­to-­day visitor operations,” he explains. “I ensure that guests can visit our distillery safely and connect with our brands but not get in the way of production. The job is incredibly varied. In the morning I’ll go through the tour diary and ensure the tour team is ready. There are a lot of risk assessments and spreadsheets, but I also work with our amazing tour team on new innovations.”

After graduating university, Wilson landed his “dream job” at the BBC, but eventually “got fed up sitting in an office talking to the same people every day”. He decided to move into drinks retailing and after completing the WSET Diploma moved to Aberfeldy, which he describes as his “spiritual home”.

In 2000, Aberfeldy opened the Dewar’s World of Whisky to “showcase the Dewar’s archive rather than hiding it away at head office”, according to Wilson. Following a significant investment and rebrand – which saw the site renamed Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery – the distillery won the Scottish Thistle Award for Best Visitor Attraction in Scotland. “I love knowing that I am contributing to a bigger success when our guests share what they have discovered with friends around the world,” says Wilson.

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