Sharon, our head of accounts, wasn’t naturally drawn to working at a whisky company.
“I used to think of my grandpa, drinking his Whyte and Mackay!” she says, “So I am really surprised by how much I love this industry.”
In 2008, she was working for an audit firm, two weeks with one business and on to the next, and took some persuading to come to Bruichladdich on secondment. “The first boss came in saying it was for 3 months and I said no. The second boss came in saying come on 2 months, I said no. The third boss came in saying 1 month, so I said OK. And I came out to Islay for a month, which turned into 6 months… Ten years later, here I am, and I’m asking to come to Islay every month!” We are always doubly delighted to see her in whisky land, as Sharon pays the wages.
“From the minute I came I loved it. I saw all the bottles in the shop, and I love the atmosphere, love the people. It’s good, seeing something get made, it’s different. It’s so relaxed, but you still get the work done. So there’s lots of different things in it for me,” she says.
“Even in terms of staff, we’re double what we ever were. There’s been massive growth,” says Sharon. She knew Bruichladdich when it had a run-down mainland office in Paisley, with cardboard boxes for blinds. “If you wanted to have a private conversation, you had to take your own mobile down the hall.” Now she manages a team of three accountants, and since 2012 has been in charge of liaising with Remy Cointreau’s finance team.
She loves to travel – to the point that the office have nicknamed her Judith Chalmers (presenter of long-running TV travel programme Wish You Were Here). She hasn’t been called out to the group offices in Paris yet, though; “they would all rather visit Islay!” Cuba and Spain are in her holiday plans this year and she was in New York over the winter, nursing a broken arm.
That arm has taken a while to heal, and she’s become an accomplished one-handed typist in the meantime. “After all these years with the company, I had to break my humerus to get on the Valinch!” she jokes. She was able to return to the gym last week, though, and is thankfully now strong enough to lift a glass of the single cask Adam has chosen for her.
In all honesty, she still isn’t a whisky drinker herself. She’s glad of the Botanist, but jokes, ‘I’m waiting for them to do the vodka, vodka would have been perfect! No, don’t put that in, I’ll have to issue my own P45…”
Sharon Foley’s Valinch, the 41st in our series featuring employees which began on 22nd November 2013 with Mr Allan Logan, is a 12 year old first fill Oloroso cask, 59.3% vol. It is one of two single casks always kept exclusively for our customers who make the pilgrimage to Islay.