How to Get Started with a Career in the Spirits Industry

Posted August 26 2022 By Bora Kesal

The spirits industry is fascinating, full of passion and intricacy, not to mention the rich Scottish history. It has proven time after time to be robust in times of economic uncertainty. And in what other industry is it acceptable to have a sneaky wee dram in the middle of the day?

So, whether you're hoping to graduate soon or you're looking for a new direction in your career, whatever your motivations for wanting to break into the industry, there are many different ways to approach a career in drinks manufacturing.


Relevant Qualifications

When pursuing a career in any manufacturing industry, a bachelor's degree in engineering, either mechanical or electrical, will put you in good standing. Looking more specifically at the spirits industry, a supply chain management degree or a quality systems management diploma will be beneficial. Any business degree would be helpful for moving into the sector at managerial levels.

The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) offers qualifications at various levels, with qualifications from "Foundations of Distilling", catering for those who want to know the basics of distilling, right up to the "Master Distiller" qualification for those expert professionals looking to demonstrate their expertise and competence.


Modern Apprenticeship

Many companies such as Diageo, Glenmorangie, Beam-Suntory, Coca-Cola, and Edrington all have modern apprentice programmes that give you a foundation of knowledge across the business with opportunities to choose your path going forward.

A modern apprenticeship can offer you the best of both worlds of employment and study, gaining an industry-recognised qualification while starting to earn a wage.

Transferable Skills and Experience

As with any career move, several transferable skills and gained experience will help you reposition yourself into a career in drinks manufacturing, being hands-on, a good communicator, and having a meticulous eye for detail are all highly desirable traits.

Being passionate about the end product is essential in the sector as there is so much culture embedded in the drinks. For the same reasons, you must be able to work in a fast-paced environment without sacrificing quality. Further on, developing a project management framework is beneficial for any non-entry-level job. Learning about lean manufacturing principles, such as 5S, Kaizen, and 6Sigma, is essential for career growth.

Career Paths

You may already be working in a manufacturing or engineering business; many parallel roles would give you the experience, ready for a leap to a new and exciting sector. Are you currently working in a new product development environment? Maybe you have experience in health and safety? Perhaps you're a production operator or a demand planner.

The spirits industry has excellent job security and offers great support for career development, it can often be glamorous, and it's an industry where you're able to see the outcome of your work out in the wild, from the shelves of your local supermarket, to behind the bar of your favourite whisky bar.


If, like me, you have a passion for the spirits industry and would like to speak to me about a career move within the FMCG industry, I'd love to be able to help. I have established relationships with some of the market's most familiar and upcoming brands. Click here to get in touch.

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