Celebrating International Women's Day | Ad Gefrin

Celebrating International Women's Day

1st March 2024

As International Women's Day approaches, Ad Gefrin Distillery is proud to shine a spotlight on one of the exceptional women within our team who contributes significantly to the meticulous craft of spirit making. In celebration of this global day dedicated to honoring the achievements of women, we invite you to join us in recognising the talent, dedication, and passion of our distillery team member, Fran Jones.

Meet Fran Jones

As a Newcastle University Biomedical Science graduate, Fran has swapped science experiments for spirit making. She also swapped gin for whisky in June 2023 by joining Ad Gefrin from a South of England gin distillery where she started her career. We are delighted she has decided to return to us here in the North East where she now works alongside Ben, Craig and Chris to bolster our distillery team to four.

Although she loves the whole process, one of Fran's favourite duties is being a forklift operator, racking our Single Malt barrels within our cask store. She is looking forward to continuing her development and personal growth as a whisky distiller, taking on formal qualifications as well as learning day-to-day from her fellow distillers at Ad Gefrin

Whisky distilling doesn’t seem like a route many young women take – what attracted you?

I was first interested in how gin was made, my "entry" spirit. Working at a gin distillery prompted an interest into how other spirits are made. Including, whisky! I wanted to diversify and was ready for a challenge. Whisky provided this, as the process has more stages and so is more complex. I enjoy the creative element to whisky as well. for example, the variety of barrels for maturing and finishing. For me, the role of a distiller is where science meets creativity. I’m interested in a lot of world whiskies, such as Australia and New Zealand distilleries that utilise their local resources such as red wine barrels. More modern approaches to whisky. As an English whisky distillery Ad Gefrin also has freedom to be creative. 

What did you study at university? How has this helped you in your role?

I studied biomedical science at Newcastle university. Which is not the most relevant science topic, but I feel it's given me a strong base to understand scientific processes in whisky. Such as the enzymatic reactions occurring in the mash tun (starch being broken down into sugar) and chemical reactions during the fermentation process by yeast and other bacteria. I studied chemistry at a level which is also useful for understanding the distillation itself (reflux etc.) and copper interactions with the spirit.

What do your friends say when they hear what you have chosen as a career?

Friends were definitely surprised. As would I be, if you told me 5 years ago I would be working at a whisky distillery as a distiller. My life went on a tangent after returning from Australia and following Covid-19, but I am very happy with the place I've gotten to. The vast majority of people think my job is very cool and I am well supported by family and friends.

Would you encourage other girls into the industry?

Yes, 100% encourage other girls to become a distiller. I love being active at work, my job is hands on, on your feet, out in the fresh air. Don't necessarily have to be a massive whisky drinker, I mainly drink my whisky in cocktails. There is no reason woman can't or shouldn't work in whisky. 

What’s a typical day like in the Distillery?

Typical day at the distillery. There are 2 sides of production. Either running the mash tun or the two stills, production runs every day, 7 days a week. Both run for about 6 hours, with defined steps which have to be taken at exact time points. Multi-tasking comes into it when we have other tasks, such as filling barrels with new make, racking the barrels, bottling gin or whisky blends. 

What’s next for your distillery career?

Getting formal qualifications is in the pipeline next. Not yet started it. I am currently awaiting a start date, which is really exciting. 

Discover More About Ad Gefrin's Distillery

Want to find out more about what life is like in Ad Gefrin's distillery, to learn about spirit making, sample our spirits for yourself, or simply chat to our distillery team about our whisky and gin products? Book your tickets to our guided distillery tour and tasting, for a multi sensory experience that is not to be missed. 

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