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Day in the Life: John Robertson, managing director of Caskshare

Planning is important at this Edinburgh-based independent bottler

Published: January 23, 2023
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Morning is when I like to get my exercise done. That will mean heading to the gym or getting on my Peloton bike before getting on a proper bike and cycling from Leith up to the office in the west end, where I’ll shower and aim to be at my desk for 8.30am.


We’re a neat team of six: three in tech, two in marketing and me, so I have a pretty hands-on role. We’ll typically have a morning team catch-up to make sure things are happening when they need to. My focus, in the current economic climate, is to make sure the business is sustainable and consistently profitable. That means analysing financial data and collaborating with distilleries to make sure we’re giving our customers interesting products and testing new propositions like our recent Springbank ballot, which received over 600 notes of interest for 100 bottles. I’m frequently in discussions with distilleries or cask brokers to create partnerships and give fledgling distilleries a new route to market. I’ll take time to understand their business and come up with proposals that are mutually beneficial.


I tend to bring in my own lunch, soup or leftovers that have been put together by my wife Claire, but will treat myself occasionally to a cracking breakfast roll from Fox & Co, which is just down the road. You can’t go wrong with a bacon or Lorne sausage and ketchup.


We’ll get together to discuss the next tech deployments that will impact the business from a growth perspective. How can we continually add value to the customer? This will involve learning from tests we’ve done to optimise the process and make sure we’re being as efficient as possible.

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We’ll also review cask acquisition updates: making sure we have enough stock coming down the line and that our logistics providers are ready – the bottling partner has a set date, labels have been ordered and so on. Shipping whisky isn’t a simple job. You need to have a company that can carry duty-suspended goods, so ensuring that everything comes together at the right time to be distributed from our warehouse to our customers is absolutely critical.


We’ll go over weekly metrics: where is the business versus targets, what’s working and what’s not. Then we’ll get news, ideas and suggestions on how to amplify the business proposition. International expansion is something we’re continually exploring and we’ll have strategy sessions on where to launch next but getting the UK offering into a strong position is our main priority.


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If I’m not hosting a tasting in our new tasting room at our HQ on Manor Place or going out for a drink I’m cycling home and making dinner. I’m a big fan of delivery business Mindful Chef so we’ll order mainly fish or veggie meals from that a couple of times a week.


Before I go to sleep I’ll listen to a podcast or audio book, generally by inspiring business leaders. I was recently recommended The Ride of a Lifetime, the memoir of Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, and it completely blew me away.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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