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Issue 39 - ReachfortheSkye

Whisky Magazine Issue 39
May 2004

 

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ReachfortheSkye

CarolineWhitfielddecidedtogiveuplifeinthefastlaneinLondonanddecidedtosetupadistilleryinTheShetlandsinstead.TomBruce-Gardynereports

OnemorninginJune2002,CarolineWhitfieldfoundherselfdoingsomeinternetresearchontheShetlandIsles.

LivinginLondonwithherScottishhusbandandpregnantwithchildnumberthree,shewassearchingforabolt-hole–somewheretoescapefromterroristthreatsanddirtybombs.

Shehadbeentotheislandsasachildandsaysshe“quitelikesremote,extremeplaces”havingbeenbroughtupinthefarnorthofCanadawithanEnglishmotherandScandinavianfather.

Hewasaninventor“fulloflotsofwildideasthatworked”saysCarolinewhofeelssheresembleshiminmanyways.

Sittingathercomputer,Carolinewasabouttohave‘awildidea'ofherown.

“Fiftytwopercentofthelandiscoveredinpeatandbasicallytherestiscoveredinwater,”shesays,recallingwhatshelearnedthatmorning.

“Inotherwordsitwasperfectforwhisky.Sowhere'sthewhiskydistillery?Hangon,thereISnowhiskydistillery!Itwassoimmediatelydamnedobvious!”

ThenextdayshewasonthephonetoShetlandEnterprise.

WithalawdegreefromOxfordandanMBAfromINSEAD,CarolinehadworkedabroadforUnileverandthenintheUnitedKingdomforthetoymanufacturer,Hasbro.

Thencameastintasa‘corporateincubator'duringthedot-comboomwheresheworkedwiththedrinksgiant,Diageo.Withawell-developedknackofpickingwinners,shefeltincreasinglyfrustratedatseeingsomeofherbrightestideastakenupbyothers.Thistimeno-onewasgoingtogetinherway.

CarolinewasnotthefirsttodreamofbuildingadistilleryontheShetlands.Therehadbeenatleastthreepeoplebefore,butwhetheranyonehadquitethesameballsydeterminationisanothermatter.

Therewereplentyofscepticsnonetheless.Forastarttherehadneve...

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