Virtual Panel

Career Advice in the Drinks Industry

THURSDAY, 6 April 2023. 16:15 - 17:45 BST

By the Scottish Section

Virtual Event on Zoom

THURSDAY, 6 April 2023

16:15 - 17:45 BST

Virtual Event on Zoom

The IBD Scottish Section invites members and guests to a virtual career panel led by experts from the brewing & distilling industry in Scotland.

This is an excellent opportunity to hear from industry professionals about their career development and experiences, and their reflections on their careers so far. By sharing their stories we hope to inspire others in the industry to further develop their careers in brewing & distilling.


Why You Should Attend:

  • Be inspired by the shared experiences of some hugely capable colleagues from across the Scottish brewing & distilling sector
  • Hear their reflections on opportunities and choices they have made across their careers
  • Gain a better understanding of the opportunities that exist within brewing & distilling and where these might take you.

Tickets: Free

Booking deadline: 30 March 2023

For any questions, please contact Stuart Watts (Chairman Scottish Section of the IBD), 

Meet the Panellists

  • Alistair Longwell, Head of Distillation & Environment, Beam Suntory
  • Keith Lugton, Master Brewer, C&C Group
  • Stephanie Macleod, Director of Blending, Scotch Whisky, John Dewar & Sons Ltd
  • Colin Gordon, Distillery Manager, Ardbeg Distillery
  • Gillian MacDonald, Master Blender and Head of Whisky Creation, The Glenmorangie Company
Alistair Longwell
Head of Distillation & Environment
Beam Suntory

Alistair joined Wm Teacher & Sons directly from high school on a multi-skilled engineering apprenticeship on August 10th, 1987, complementing his on-the-job training with a Higher National Certificate in Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

He worked at Allied Distillers’ Kilmalid blending and bottling facility in Dumbarton (now part of Chivas Bros. Ltd) from 1988 until 1999, initially as an Instrument Technician and then from 1993 in a range of engineering and production management roles. He complemented his career move into management with a Diploma in Management Studies.

In 2000, he relocated to Speyside for a position within Allied Distillers’ Malt Distilleries management team, based at their Miltonduff Technical Centre, covering all of ADL’s malt distilleries: Ardmore, Glenburgie, Glencadam, Glendronach, Glentauchers, Imperial, Laphroaig, Miltonduff, Scapa and Tormore. He also spent a short time as relief manager at Allied’s Beefeater Gin Distillery in London. 

In 2005, became the distillery manager at Ardmore and continued this role under Beam Global Inc, following the subsequent takeover of Allied Domecq by Pernod Ricard and Beam Global’s parent company, Fortune Brands.

At this time, Alistair pursued his ambition to focus his personal development in the area of Environmental Management and Sustainability, by successfully becoming a member of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment

Following the formation of Beam Suntory in 2015, Alistair became Senior Manager – Scotch Distillation & Maturation Operations, managing BSUK’s five malt distilleries: Ardmore, Auchentoshan, Bowmore, Glengarioch and Laphroaig, as well as their Maturation warehouse estate. In 2022, Alistair was promoted into the position of Head of Distillation & Environment at Beam Suntory and amongst his responsibilities, he leads BSUK’s Peatland Water Sanctuary™ peatland restoration programme.

As well as a member of IEMA, he is a member of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, President of the Malt Distillers Association of Scotland, and a Keeper of the Quaich.

Outside of work he enjoys listening to a wide-range of music from opera to heavy rock via trad Scottish (he formerly enjoyed playing in a pipe band), spending time with his family (especially walking his dog, Hebe) and following football – his teams are Partick Thistle FC (from his home city) and his local Highland League team, Lossiemouth FC.

Keith Lugton
Master Brewer
C&C Group

Keith Lugton is a Master Brewer at C&C Group plc based at  Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd, Wellpark Brewery, Glasgow. Keith’s current role is focussed on Liquid Innovation on both for C&C Beer and Cider brands, and also for third party customers including contract brewing . He has been a  qualified Master Brewer since 1989, having worked in the Brewing Industry since 1977. His career started at the Heriot Brewery in Edinburgh in the Laboratory, In 1985 he moved to the Wellpark Brewery, Glasgow. Keith has held various positions within the business over the years including - Brewing Manager, Planning & Supply Manager, Maltings Manager (secondment), Brewing Specialist, Contract Brewing Specialist. He has also spent many years travelling across Europe when the company was owned by Anheuser Busch InBev, contributing to improving brewery performance. Keith was involved in the design, commissioning and operation of a new microbrewery in the Magners plant in Clonmel, Ireland in 2014. Keith is a Fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and past Chairman of the Scottish Section of the IBD (2013-2015) and the Incorporated Brewers Guild (1995-1996). He is a member of the Maltsters Association of Great Britain Malt and Barley Committee. He is a past member of the Advisory Board of Management at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. Over the last 13 years Keith has also been heavily involved in Cider Development both in the UK, Ireland, Italy and the USA.

Stephanie Macleod
Director of Blending, Scotch Whisky
John Dewar & Sons Ltd

Stephanie began her career as a Research Assistant at the University of Strathclyde working on the sensory and chemical properties of many different types of food and drink, with the most significant one being Scotch whisky.

In 1998, after 4 years in academia, she decided to join the whisky industry and so her career with Dewar’s began in the Quality department.  After a year, she became the laboratory manager, with the remit of providing chemical and sensory support for the distilleries all the way through to the finished product.   At the same time, she also managed the Whisky Preparation team, ensuring that the spirit was of the correct type and quality for the bottling lines. 

Then in 2003, Stephanie became Blender Designate preparing and training to become the Master Blender.  She assumed the role in 2006 when the then Master Blender, Tom Aitken, retired and became the 7th Master Blender for John Dewar & Sons Ltd in 1846.

Stephanie and her team have continued to maintain the house style of Dewar’s, as well as launching many new expressions within the Dewar’s and William Lawson’s portfolio of Blends and Single Malts.  The success and increased demand led to Stephanie expanding her team in 2020 – to include more blenders and inventory analysis specialists.  Then in January 2023, Stephanie was promoted to Director of Blending with the remit of focusing on delivering the capability to fulfil the company’s ambitions on the Scotch whisky portfolio, as well as continuing to nurture and build the talent in her team.

Colin Gordon
Distillery Manager
Ardbeg Distillery

Colin Gordon is the Distillery manager at Ardbeg Distillery, part of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) based on the Isle of Islay, Scotland.

In October 2020 Colin became the 21st Distillery manager at Ardbeg. He is responsible for leading a team of 22 persons  in all distilling and warehousing operations on site. Ardbeg is one of the most-loved and famous single malt scotch whisky brands and under Colin’s tenure has seen an expansion programme completed with a new stillhouse and filling store commissioned in March 2021.

Prior to joining Ardbeg Colin had worked in the whisky industry since 2012. He trained with Diageo as a trainee manager before taking control at Port Ellen Maltings in 2015. From 2018 to 2020 Colin was Distillery manager at Lagavulin Distillery on Islay.


Gillian combines art & science within her role as Master Blender & Head of Whisky Creation. Her main responsibilities include daily quality sensory analysis of the core range recipes for bottling and quality of the NMS produced at both distilleries via analytical and sensory methods. Gillian contributes to and manages the innovation product pipeline of the limited releases for both brands, which involves nosing thousands of casks a year for final recipe selection and front end production distillery trials (Inc Lighthouse). She also coordinates the onsite analytical lab which covers analysis across both distillery from grain to glass and the company’s sensory panel.
Gillian joined the whisky industry back in 2003 and at that time was the only female distiller in the UK. During her time at Penderyn distillery she developed her knowledge of distillation, maturation and advanced her sensory skills under Dr Jim Swan to become Distillery manager holding the responsibility for all spirits production, recipe selection as well as various brand ambassadorial duties. Gillian joined Dr Bills team back in 2012 and has been integral to the success of the whisky creation team.