Master Distillers and Barrel Raisers

Reasons I Love HR

Written by Deanna Hunter

Working in HR has given me the chance to interview people from around the world who do interesting jobs.  For instance, a few weeks ago  I interviewed a fellow in Israel via Skype.  His job is to coach neurosurgeons on using the piece of equipment that allows them to probe the human brain.  He often does it over the phone during surgery.  (I skipped the interview question about how he does under pressure!).  I’ve also interviewed a Pickle Packer from the Bick’s pickle plant, and Fast Eddy, a world yo-yo champion.

People make a living in many interesting ways.  If you look around your home for instance, you can begin to think about how each and every thing you see was created by someone, designed by someone,  operated by someone.  I do this all the time.  I look at most things from an HR perspective and try to imagine who the people are behind the scenes.   For instance, who put the gold paint on the heel of the beautiful shoes in my closet?  Who poured the plaster into the cast to create the odd little garden gnome I’m thinking about buying for my yard?

My husband and I spent last week in Tennessee and the HR lady in me took over as we toured the Jack Daniels Distillery. Because our tour group was small I got to ask a few questions, like ‘how many people work at the Distillery’.  The answer from our knowledgeable and witty guide was “I’d say about half of them”.  I walked right into that one.  My questions did, however, net some interesting information.  For instance, they have a team of Barrel Raisers who can raise up to 200 barrels each, per day.  Apparently barrels aren’t built, they are raised, by hand.  I also found out that the Whiskey Tasters are one of the only employees who get reserved parking in the employee lot.  The whiskey isn’t aged to a specific date, but rather is continually tasted until its just right, making “Taster” one of the most important jobs at Jack Daniels.   Who knew?  And of course, there’s the Master Distiller.   He has the top job which merits his picture, with just a few others,along side of Jack’s in the log cabin that served as the first office.  And lastly, we learned that one of Jack’s sayings has stuck as their company mantra.   “Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can”.   Simple yet meaningful.

It takes all kinds to make our world, and economy, turn.  Hearing about all of the interesting ways that people make a living  has been one of the most enjoyable parts  of my job in HR.





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