White Peak

Sarah Mangan Distiller White Peak Distillery

We talk to Sarah about her personal journey in whisky and her role at White Peak Distillery making Wire Works Whisky, Shining Cliff Gin and leading tours and tastings. We also find out about being part of the Our Whisky Foundation mentorship programme and working with Brian Kinsman.



As a youngster my first experience of Whisky was through my dad, he enjoyed a tipple, and we would buy him a bottle of Bushmills to enjoy on his birthday. Skip forward to 2018, I am 33yrs old and on a road trip back from Cornwall with a friend. We decide to take quite a big diversion to Penderyn Distillery in Wales. The opportunity to visit a distillery and see how and where the spirit is made was very special and the start of my own personal journey. I signed up to their membership programme and received annual bottlings. My interest and passion for whisky had begun.

Interested in exploring other distilleries and with an expanding English whisky scene, I fell in love with the Lakes Distillery on a trip to the Lake District. My collection started to grow. It’s pretty large now, and I drink nowhere near the amount of whisky I buy!

During Covid I spent some time reflecting on my career. I concluded I wanted to work at a whisky distillery.  After some research on the qualifications needed, I completed the IBD (Institute of Brewing and Distilling) General Certificate in Distillation. Next find a job…

Through Exploring English Whisky I found out about White Peak Distillery, geographically my closest distillery.  I signed up and became a member of Temperance Club, following the journey, the story and enjoying the annual bottlings. I decided to reach out to Max, and he kindly allowed me to spend a day at the distillery looking at the operation and meeting some of the team.  The rest they say is history! I’ve been a Distiller at White Peak now for just over 2.5yrs and I love it!

My passion for whisky comes from people, the connection with my dad and the amazing times I’ve had with friends on road trips around the country. For me it’s about discovering something new but also enjoying the old favourites. The nosing or tasting of a whisky can transport you back to a time, place or person – it’s quite special.

 At White Peak we are a very small team and I work closely with Distillery Manager, Dave Symes. My role focuses on producing new make spirit (milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation). The distillery operates tours 3 days a week and the Still House team lead the tours and tastings with guests. It’s great to be on the other side and be part of other people’s whisky journey, which ever stage they are at.

My most memorable whisky moment as a distiller was filling my first cask – such a proud moment.

In 2022/23 I applied to take part in the Our Whisky Foundation mentorship program.  I was keen to expand my knowledge and skills, and I found nosing and writing tasting notes challenging. I was lucky to be paired with Mentor Brian Kinsman the Master Maltster at Glenfiddich.

Over a 6-month period I met up regularly with Brian online, sending samples back and forth. He was able to share his knowledge and expertise in a structured way through our online meetings. It enabled me to improve my knowledge, I am now much more confident in my ability to identify different aromas and tastes. The Our Whisky Foundation gave me a unique opportunity to work Brian, someone with vast experience, knowledge and expertise in the whisky industry, as well as being an excellent tutor.