Recently, Irishmalts was lucky enough to sit down with Kirstie McCallum of Samuel Gelston’s Irish Whiskey. Founded in 1830 by Belfast based Samuel Gelston, Gelston’s Whiskey has been distilling and bottling Irish whiskeys of high quality with unique and innovative finishes for many years. Kirstie is Gelston’s Head Distiller. Coming from a successful career in the Spirits industry, we spoke to her about her experience in the business and her hopes for Gelston’s in the future.
IM: What does the day-to-day look like for a Head Distiller?
Kirstie: It is totally different every day. Some days I am in the warehouse looking at casks, tasting casks, or up at events talking to people. That’s why I love the job. It varies every day.
IM: What inspired this career path for you?
Kirstie: Pure luck. I wanted to get into pharmaceuticals. If I wanted to move up the tree I needed to do a PhD. So, I got a PhD, but when I was done there were no jobs in pharmaceuticals!
IM: What do you tell people just getting into whisky about what makes Gelston’s special?
Kirstie: For me, there’s a whiskey made for everybody. There is a whiskey out there for anything from easy drinking to heavy peat. People need to find out, what is your whiskey? Gelston’s is rounded and approachable. You can drink it straight with a bit of ice or put it into cocktails. It is a whiskey that has a wide appeal because it is versatile. You can make a highball, you can do what you want. Gelston’s is ideal for mixing.
IM: How has the industry changed since you first started?
Kirstie: It has changed a lot. It’s a lot more open. Consumers know more about whiskey than people who work in the industry! A lot of the change is down to the customers, because whiskey is a drink that helps people’s hearts. There is an emotional attachment that people have to it. People are really enthusiastic. Also, there are lots of women in the industry, not just in the distillery but in other areas like marketing and media. If you are at a whiskey festival, half of the audience is young lassies.
IM: What’s next for Gelston’s?
Kirstie: For me, I look at different casks, different expressions and see what we can get. The Pinot Noir finish is particularly unique. I want to try different things that are more unique!
Irishmalts is also happy to announce that everyone who buys a 70cl bottle of Gelston’s will also receive a complementary 5cl bottle of Gelston’s Blended Whiskey (while stock lasts)! Some of our staff favourites are Gelston’s whiskeys! Which one will you try?