A distillery brand home manager who has been delighting visitors for five years about Benromach Speyside single malt Scotch whisky has become a Keeper of the Quaich at an exclusive ceremony at Blair Castle in Perthshire.
Susan Colville was invited to join the international and select society which recognises those who have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch whisky industry.
Susan, who was born and raised in Speyside, joined the Forres-based distillery in 2013 to lead a dedicated team of guides who deliver a highly personal and up-close experience to thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.
Throughout 2018, as Benromach celebrates its 20th anniversary since production restarted, Susan has been driving an exciting programme of activity. She began by leading the team that staged the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival opening gala dinner in May and is helping to host colleague and trade events throughout the year.
Susan was thrilled to be honoured by the Keepers of the Quaich She said: “This has been an incredible year at the distillery, and to receive this accolade during our 20th anniversary is particularly special for me.
“As one of only a few distilleries in Scotland where every whisky is handcrafted without any automated equipment, we’ve worked hard to deliver tours and tastings to our visitors that are truly unique. Since 2013, we’ve seen a 40% increase in visitor numbers from across the globe.”
Susan, who lives in Elgin, Speyside with her husband and daughter, was determined to pursue a career in the Scotch whisky industry from an early age having been inspired by her father who worked for over 30 years as a distiller at Glenrothes Distillery.
Beginning her career as a tour guide at Glenfiddich and Glenfarclas Distilleries over the summer holidays, she then moved to Edinburgh to work for Royal Mile Whiskies. With a natural disposition for customer service and a love of Scotch whisky, Susan relished the opportunity to develop her knowledge and hone her sales skills.
Sales and marketing roles with Douglas Laing, AD Rattray, Wemyss and Glenglassaugh saw Susan travel the world, conducting countless masterclasses and tastings to an audience keen to learn and enjoy Scotch whisky.
Susan was acknowledged by her industry peers in 2012 when she was presented with the Young Ambassador of the Year accolade at the Icons of Whisky Awards. Following this recognition, Susan was named Visitor Centre Manager of the year at the World Whiskies Awards in 2015.
The venue for the Keepers of the Quaich ceremony – Blair Castle – is home to the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only private army. The banquet is held in the Grand Ballroom of the Castle, famous for its ceiling decorated with 175 deer antlers.
Keith Cruickshank, distillery manager at Benromach, commented: “Susan’s tireless commitment and significant contribution to our wonderful industry makes her an outstanding candidate to become a Keeper of the Quaich.
“She is a terrific ambassador for Scotch malt whisky and is truly deserving of this honour.”
Last month, Benromach Distillery, which attracts more than 13,000 visitors per year achieved its Five Star Visitor Attraction status from VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme.