Paul Mclean Interview With Paulina of Isle of Arran Distillery – Scotch Whisky News
Paul talks to Paulina of Arran Distillery (December ’11)
Many thanks for this wee chat Paulina, lets start with how you became the new sales manager with Isle of Arran Distillers, only started in August, straight after graduating with a Marketing Management and Languages degree. Why whisky? Why Arran?
Paulina: Oh well… I don’t think there’s anyone who would not like to work with whisky, especially whisky from the beautiful Isle of Arran. I have always enjoyed drinking and learning about whisky. I believe there is something very special about whisky and the more you know about it, the more you actually want to know. I find it extremely exciting to be able to distinguish different aromas and flavours, develop my taste buds, visit distilleries and meet people who stand behind the whiskies I taste. And Arran… well the story started over two years ago when I almost lost my life there. After attempting to climb a cliff near Lochranza I had to be rescued and air-lifted by a RAF helicopter. I always say: even though I am originally from Poland, I was born again on Arran and my life started again two years ago near the village of Lochranza. Therefore, I feel honoured having the opportunity to work for the Isle of Arran Distillery. (see photo right!)
Paul: Being such a young person, female with no previous history in the whisky industry must be quite challenging. How do you find the industry on the whole?
Paulina: It has been a pleasure and an honour to work within this particular industry. I have received great support not just from everyone at Arran but also from other distilleries and their employees. Working with whisky is challenging in the way that apart from your passion and strong liver you also need great in depth knowledge, to face your customers and whisky lovers, especially when you are to carry out a master class. I obviously can’t quite yet compare myself to people who have been in the industry for years. I can only admire their experience and knowledge, and I can learn from them too! Every time I attend a whisky fair I try to pop in to other distillery representatives’ master classes so I can watch them in action and steal some of their tricks for my presentations (sorry!).
Paul: What are your day to day tasks
Paulina; I’m sales manager looking after most of our European markets, just to mention a few: Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Russia, and Poland. I work with distributors in each of these markets to ensure Arran’s successful presence there. What I like the most about my job is the balance between the time I spend in the office, and then on the road travelling. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to plan and manage the brand sales and performance in a market, and then go to see for myself how it works in practice. Visiting my markets, speaking to distributors and customers gives me a broader perspective and a better understanding of what needs to be done in order to remain successful.
Paul: What do you mean by remaining successful?
Paulina; Keeping our customers happy by offering them the best whisky!
Paulina; Oh well, that’s actually a tricky question. Despite having a marketing and sales background I can’t answer it straight away because marketing rules do not apply when it comes to whisky. There is not much you can do in terms of packaging, promotion and advertising if the whisky is not good enough. When you look at, for example our latest special edition bottling ‘The Sleeping Warrior’, I absolutely love the elegant and stylish box with an old-fashioned map of the Isle of Arran. The name and the story behind it are brilliant too. What is crucial though is that what the whisky has to offer is as spectacular on the inside as its outside. When I was at the Whiskyschiff 2011 in Zurich last weekend I noticed that the package attracted a lot of attention but what made people buy a bottle was the rich and complex taste which is a result of combining bourbon, sherry and Blaufrӓnkisch wine casks together. A very interesting and unusual dram – that’s what people appreciated the most!
Paul: What’s the best part of your job?
Paulina; All the whisky fairs and shows I “must” attend! I don’t think I have to explain how great it is to travel around Europe from one show to another promoting the Arran brand, meeting a lot of very interesting people, and tasting all the amazing whiskies! At the Hague Whisky Festival three weeks ago, we decided to start our day off with a dram of Glen Grant 50 years old bottled by Gordon & McPhailI. An amazing dram to start your day behind the stand!
Paul; aye so it is, what are you drinking just now?
Paulina; oh thats a very nice Arran 10 year old.
Paul: And what about your private life? Any other interest apart from whisky?
Paulina; There used to be loads but whisky is slowly overtaking everything else. I don’t think I have a problem yet though J It’s just about having time to do everything I would like to. I love nature, all kinds of sports and cooking. At the moment, I am looking forward to the ski season and maybe a weekend in the Polish mountains. Also Scotland: I only realised last year that it can be a great experience to ski here too. I went to Aviemore and was astonished how good it was to ski there, and it’s only 3 hour drive from Edinburgh. And when the snow is gone in spring that will be time for more motorcycle adventures: traditionally a ride around Arran in May, with a stop at the Distillery for a dram, and then we will see where the road takes us…
Paul: A dram of?
Paulina; Hopefully a wee sample from Ewan McGregor’s cask that is maturing in our warehouse in Lochranza! I absolutely loved his motorcycle series ‘Long way round’ where he travels around the world on his motorcycle. That’s when I got interested in motorcycles and bought my first little Vespa. Paul – ah now, I like a Harley softail myself!
Thank you very much Paulina. I wish you all the best, and of course happy Christmas with the best whiskies on your Christmas table, see you again soon.
Thank you Paul. Have a good Christmas too!
To end; it’s really grand to chat with a wee girl, fairly new to the industry, yet so positive and loving everything she does, its great to see youngsters getting into the trade, all the very best to Paulina. www.arranwhisky.com
See the interview here http://angelswhiskyclub.com/awc/paulina3.asp