This year, one of the distillery’s key areas of focus is ‘Developing Our People’. As our team here in Tarbert has grown, so too have the opportunities to flourish and find new roles within the business.
Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing some of these inspiring staff stories, starting with former coastguard volunteer Peter Kwasniewski who joined us in February 2015 as we made plans to open our doors for the first time.
Peter took on a retail role with us that year, managing the distillery Shop and welcoming our first visitors, all eager to get hold of the newly launched Isle of Harris Gin.
Peter’s friendliness was accompanied by a flair for the more commercial side of things and in 2017 we moved him into a new role, as our Off-site Business Manager tasked with developing e-commerce and Click & Collect activity.
We’re pleased to say Peter rose to the challenge, but as our international business grew we felt it was time for him to have a more global outlook.
This year, he became our International Business Development Manager, responsible for taking care of the Isle of Harris Gin markets in 14 countries around the world, from Mexico to Japan.
After launching our island spirit in his home country of Poland, at the start of this month, Peter set off for Sweden with a brief detour through Denmark for some local tastings and bartender training.
His hectic diary took him to the cities of Malmö, Helsingborg and Stockholm, visiting great food and drink venues with plenty of Isle of Harris Gin in hand, sharing our story and spirit at some wonderful events along the way.
He tells us…
“In Stockholm, we were at Bistro Rigoletto where there was a really great turnout and a brilliant atmosphere. We also visited around 40 other bars and restaurants, and in Sweden it seems you go on foot, no cars or taxis taken…I’ve never walked so much in my life!”
“People told me that Isle of Harris Gin is a whisky drinker’s gin, something they enjoyed neat, and they appreciated our ‘Social Distillery’ message too. In Sweden, there is a similar problem in rural areas with the younger generation leaving their local communities to find work elsewhere. This brought about a real sense of connection and some had actually visited our island too. I even met people wearing Harris Tweed!"
And, although far from his island home, he was struck by other Swedish similarities…
“Sweden is an incredibly beautiful and friendly country. I took the train from Malmö to Stockholm, a 5-hour journey, and the scenery on the way was exactly like Scotland with lochs and moors, just with fewer mountains…”
Peter will continue to build relationships with our new international friends in 2020 and beyond, creating awareness of not only Isle of Harris Gin but the Isle of Harris itself, helping to truly put us on the map.
There will be a lot of learning on his travels as he adapts to different cultures but we believe that simple things like character, connection, and conviviality are universal. As Peter confirms…
‘I am a people person and thrive on meeting new folk. I love what I do and speaking about the work we do here in Harris. Someone in Sweden actually said to me… “A stranger is simply a friend you haven’t yet met.” and I think this is very true.”
As he continues to cultivate his career with us, exploring new directions and pushing his own personal borders, we’re very proud to watch Peter’s progress as the years go by.
Harris Gin In Denmark: www.harrisdistillery.dk
Harris Gin In Sweden: www.systembolaget.se
Harris Gin On-trade in Sweden: www.berntson.se