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Issue 34 - Protective Shields (Robin Shields)

Whisky Magazine Issue 34
October 2003


This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Protective Shields (Robin Shields)

Robin Shields isn't from Islay. He's not Scottish. And he doesn't have a distillery background. But as Martine Nouet finds out, he's up for the challenge of protecting the reputation of Laphroaig

Robin Shields, Laphroaig's new distillery manager faces more than a challenge: He's taking over from living legend Iain Henderson, discovering a brand-new job after 25 years in the brewing industry, and shifting from a mainland urban way of life to an island community.

All challenging issues that Robin welcomes with a serene and determined smile, as if nothing could shake this rock of a man.

With a beer brewer's background, Yorkshire-born Robin Shields has shifted to distilling at one of the most emblematic of Scottish distilleries.

The new Laphroaig distillery manager took up his new position just a few weeks ago, before the Islay Whisky Festival kicked off.

I met him right after his baptism of fire – on Laphroaig Day – the last day of the festival. We were both exhausted and did not even think of invigorating ourselves with a dram of Laphroaig.

Instead we stuck to tea and biscuits, whilst chatting in the distillery manager ‘s office. The whole place was silent.

Quite a change from the bustling morning with visitors queuing for tours and two fully booked masterclasses.

”When I came to Laphroaig for a week in February, just before starting six weeks training at the Speyside distilleries of Allied Domecq,” Robin remembers, ”I was sitting there with a dram. And I saw two grey seals popping their head out of the water. I thought : I am at work and I can enjoy this beauty. I love my new life.”

This is a new life that was meant to be. When Robin Shields was ...

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