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BUSINESS INSIGHT: Inverness 'brewstillery' has passion for inclusive employment

By Colin Marr

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Uile-bheist in Inverness.
Uile-bheist in Inverness.

Inside Stories – a new series of events from Inverness Chamber of Commerce – got off to a great start with a visit to Uile-bheist, the brand new distillery and brewery in Inverness based at the Glen Mhor Hotel.

Their outside tables are already a firm favourite of mine for a summer pint, but we started our night with a welcome drink in the bar which, like the rest of Uile-bheist, has been designed beautifully.

We then went upstairs to the very shiny distilling area to hear from the owner Victoria Erasmus.

Uile-bheist is a wonderful mix of traditional distilling and modern renewables technology which makes the whole production process incredibly environmentally friendly. The water comes from three wells in the car park and heat is drawn from deep underground which has allowed the whole of the Glen Mhor site to be nearly gas free. All but one of the hops for the beer are sourced locally.

Everyone attending can vouch for how delicious the beer is but we’ll have to wait a few more years for the whisky.

Victoria’s passion for her business and its environmental credentials shone through but above all it was her passion for inclusive employment that impressed our guests.

She has pioneered Health Passports that allow staff to disclose issues in their life and have their shifts planned around these, so that the Glen Mhor ends up with a workforce who are on shift when they want to be and when they’re at their best.

Victoria Erasmus. Picture: James Mackenzie
Victoria Erasmus. Picture: James Mackenzie

Victoria’s advice for employing a more diverse workforce is simple – don’t imagine you’ll solve everything at once. But if you start being open and discussing potential employees’ needs right from interview stage then you will be off to a good start and can build from there.

I can’t possibly distill all Victoria’s words of wisdom into this article. But I can say that if you’d like to start employing a workforce with more diverse needs (and therefore more diverse skills) it would be well worth your while tracking down Victoria for some advice. You can maybe even have that conversation over a delicious beer.

Inside Stories will return in February with another opportunity to see behind the scenes at a local business while meeting up with friends and business partners – both old and new.

Colin Marr is chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

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