In a creative shake-up to our whisky-making team, we have appointed Sarah Burgess as our new Whiskymaker.
Former Lead Whiskymaker at The Macallan, Sarah’s time at Edrington focused on whisky range creation, innovation, and quality control for one of the world’s most revered single malts. And it was Sarah’s expertise that helped to design The Macallan Genesis, The Anecdotes of Ages Collection with Sir Peter Blake, and establish a global collaboration with the Pantone Color Institute™.
How did your whisky adventure begin?
Born in Speyside, whisky is a passion I love to share with other people and I have worked in the industry for almost 25 years. I first started at Cardhu Distillery on my 21st birthday, and have led a multitude of different functions, from visitor centres to health and safety and warehousing, and, of course, whiskymaking.
What has been your most rewarding career achievement to date?
I studied for my BA (Hons) in Management at Robert Gordon University while working full-time as a Site Operations Manager for Diageo. The university was an hour’s drive away, and I attended lectures two nights every week. In my last year, I was promoted to Senior Site Manager at Clynelish distillery, so the drive became about three hours each way. It was very tiring but an achievement I look back on with great pride.
Outside the world of whisky, what are your passions/inspirations?
I spend most of my time with my family when I am not at work but I am also very interested in art.
What attracted you to The Lakes?
I was intrigued by The Lakes as a new distillery but one creating such high-quality whisky. I am excited to be part of a new and innovative operation and I am sure between my creativity and the quality casks we have in maturation that many great whiskies will follow.
On leaving her role as creative director at The Craigellachie, where Sarah has been crafting a luxury lifestyle collection of drinks telling the story of Speyside at one of the world’s oldest whisky hotels, Sarah brings more than 25 years of whisky-making passion and knowledge to The Lakes at a time when we are accelerating production and planning for international growth.
We are delighted to welcome Sarah to our team. Not only does she bring a wealth of experience and creativity, but Sarah’s inclusive desire to guide, support, and develop our existing whiskymaking team is something we are very excited about. With an acute understanding of the complete whiskymaking process, Sarah’s hands-on approach to taking concepts from inception through to creation aligns flawlessly with our whiskymaking philosophy. It is a very exciting time for us all.
Nigel Mills, co-founder at The Lakes Distillery.
Having worked at Diageo for more than two decades, managing the Oban, Glenkinchie and Clynelish distilleries, Sarah’s love for the whisky industry, and in particular sherry casks, will be invaluable as she takes over the top job from Dhavall Gandhi who, in January 2022, opened an eponymously named whisky consultancy alongside his role at The Lakes.
Dhavall has played an instrumental role in what has been an extraordinary journey for The Lakes over the past five years. Culminating in The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.4 being named the “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” at the 2022 World Whiskies Awards, Dhavall has dedicated himself artistically to the distillery and helped us to forge a clear vision and philosophy for our whiskymaking. For that, we will be forever grateful.
Tim Farazmand, chairman at The Lakes Distillery.
Sarah joined The Lakes Distillery on Thursday 5 January, working with Dhavall to hand over The Lakes’ 2023 bottlings before taking over responsibility for all whiskymaking operations.