We head back to the distillery to talk to Production Manager Christian Perez-Solar...
We head back to the distillery this week to talk to our multi talented Production Manager Christian Perez-Solar; whether it is making incredible spirits or surfing the waves Christian always seeks perfection.
What was your background before joining Arbikie?
Before joining Arbikie I was deeply involved with winemaking and viticulture for nearly 10 years working in Chile, New Zealand and California. During this experience I had great mentors in both areas and that knowledge transferred easily into Arbikie Estate. In 2012 I came to Scotland to learn about grain, and began a new journey studying brewing and distillation at Heriot-Watt University, which enrich my experiences in the world of alcohol production.
What is the best part of your job?
Most of the time our sense of smell is the most important tool because it never lies if there is an imbalance in the process or if a product is unique, so I enjoy being engulfed by the aromas during the mashes, the fermentations, the washes, the spirit, the inspection of barrels and the aromas of botanicals in our gin. The distillery talks to us, every day when we are in production, hence our hearing is important at all times to keep things running smoothly and the feeling to be alert resonates with me.
What is the best way to enjoy an Arbikie drink?
The best way to enjoy anything is with friends.
What’s your favourite tipple asides from Arbikie?
Coming from a wine background I enjoy Rhone varietals, as well as great Barolos.
When you are not distilling, what do you like to do for fun?
Sometimes, the distillery requires that we work long hours and during the winter time I enjoy stargazing with a wee telescope I have, though the wind can be a bit cold at times. The distillery is also located in front of Lunan Bay, which in many occasions has waves peeling so I try to squeeze a wee surf session before work and after work if the Sea is pulsing. And During weekends I am never home.
What’s it like working for a new distillery?
When you become part of a group of people that are having fun when establishing a new distillery you become part of the distillery. It is a priceless experience to be in Scotland and be part of the initiation of a new distillery. The traditions of distillation here are engraved in people’s hands and I am glad to be part of this tradition. Thoughts came into my head the other day and our input into the process is shaping the spirits that we produce and mature, and to know that people are enjoying our white spirits and that will enjoy a dram in the future, made me smile.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to become a distiller?
Be natural and be egoless.
What makes Arbikie different?
What lure me to Arbikie aside from its proximity to the beach was the long tradition the family has in farming, who are 4th generation farmers. The direct involvement with the raw materials during the growing season brings another element of enjoyment and uniqueness and this also brings an edge into our presence in the market.
How do you approach developing new products?
When we begin to develop new products the approach is similar to cooking, and this is when we get really geeky! We begin by understanding the biochemical core of a product and its behavior with alcohol, temperatures and the process. Then we have the mathematics, yields, efficiencies, and we do laboratory scale trials and finally the most fun is when we taste the products!
What’s your favourite bar?
My favourite bar is the one that doesn’t sell Corona!
What’s the biggest difference between working at a distillery and a vineyard?
The biggest difference is in a distillery there is an endless production process, unlike wine, which vintages are once a year. We have so many potatoes and different varieties that I dream about potatoes everyday but I became an expert at cooking potatoes in many different ways.