Portrait of Georgie Crawford, Manager of Lagavulin Distillery

GEORGIE CRAWFORD, MANAGER, LAGAVULIN DISTILLERY
Georgette Crawford is small, contained, organised, controlled, competent; and in charge!
She is 34 years old and the manager at Lagavulin Distillery in Islay.
As part of my Whisky for Girls venture, I spoke with Georgie, on Tuesday 31 January.
Georgie gave me two hours of her time, during which she talked me through; her role at the distillery, Diageo as a company, four different whiskies, and developing my whisky tasting abilities.
During our talk, workers on shift called into the office and quickly discussed with Georgie; the quality of the yeast, to remember CAD (a bit random, I know!) and numerous other things. The way they interacted with each other made me know that they had an easy, yet respectful relationship.
I asked Georgie how it all began ~ did she have a career plan?
The answer was no. It all happened organically.
Georgie ran a bar in Edinburgh not long after leaving school and found she could talk a good whisky.
She got a job with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society about 10 years ago and her career developed from there. Georgie ran a bar, then a whisky retail outlet, and was manager at the reception centre in Talisker in Skye before she came back to Lagavulin.
She has a huge work ethic, and that, coupled with the geographical chance of being from Islay stood her in good stead in the industry. Whisky and the distilleries were there in the background when she was growing up. Whisky is part of life in Islay. It is ingrained in us. Whisky talk and distillery talk is commonplace language to us. The first person she told when she got the job at Lagavulin was her Dad. She says its a dream job ~ and she cant complain about the salary, it is enough to keep her Westie in dog biscuits!
Georgie says she is driven by the people she works with at Lagavulin. They are a team. She encourages a strong sense of the shared goal. Everything that has to be done becomes easy to achieve with everyone working together. The first thing she does in the morning is go down to the control room, see the guys and find out whats doing. There are 21 shifts a week, Georgie is in for 5 of them ~ the remaining 16 shifts the guys are the manager!
Lagavulin Distillery is owned by the company Diageo.Diageo is a global business. They have a huge, ever expanding market and want a constant, quality product to sell. Georgie and the team at Lagavulin endeavour to produce NMS ~ new made spirit, to this end. The spirit that they produce is the same each day, everyday. It is in the styles of maturation that the range of products ~ the whiskies, is created. Styles of maturation include using different casks for storing the spirit, and the way the different aged spirits are blended together. The heart of their range is Lagavulin 16 years old.
Georgie likes being part of an industry that deals with peoples leisure time. Whisky is drunk at times of celebration and importance. It is drunk at christenings, weddings and funerals. People drink it when they are relaxing, and with friends. Malt whisky has a very positive image for people.
Georgie reckons that the secret of a good dram is having the time to appreciate it. She told me she heard although Johnny Depp doesnt drink much anymore, he will sometimes order a Lagavulin just to smell it!
I asked Georgie whom she admires in the business. It has to be Maureen Robinson, Master Blender ~ how someone can put these flavours together to create what she does is just amazing.
I asked what skills, attributes and qualifications that Georgie regarded as important for achieving in this industry. She said; ~ being organised, having a passion for learning, and never being afraid to ask if you dont know something.
She told me that Diageo operate graduate schemes, which run for three years and offer experience of six different managerial roles within the industry. There is also the chance to work abroad whilst learning.
I asked Georgie what advice she would give to Whisky for Girls, and the answer was ~ Enjoy it. Smile, laugh and enjoy. A simple sounding piece of advice, but sometimes gets forgotten.
At the end of the interview I asked Georgie if we could have our photograph taken together. I said, where will we stand?
‘well stand in front of the whisky wall with all the bottles, she replied, thinking immediately of the optimum opportunity for her product, even in the most casual of situations.
Georgie asked Rosie, the secretary to take the picture. Rosie was nervous about taking the photo. I stood against the wall, Georgie focussed the camera, gave it to Rosie and said just stand where I was and press the button then she joined me for the picture. All the while she was laughing and joking.
I thought; thats how she does it, she smoothly engineers situations to the advantage of all concerned ~ Rosie did a good job, I got my photo, and Lagavulin got an advert.
No wonder Georgette Crawford is the manager of one of the great Islay Malt Whisky Distilleries at the tender age of 34 years ~ Like Lagavulin 16 year old, she is as constant as the Northen Star.