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Meet Greg Dillon and Kirsty Dillon of Great Drams

Photo: Kirsty and Greg Dillon
Photo: Kirsty and Greg Dillon

Poynton-based Greg and Kirsty are both directors of award-winning independent bottler of whisky company, Great Drams. An award-winning writer and brand strategy consultant, Greg had always had a passion for whisky which prompted him to set up the family business, while Kirsty, a marketing manager, was responsible for acquisition and retention of customers. It was when they considered starting a family and craved more flexibility, they combined their experience to set up the business. Here they share their food and drink loves.

Tell us a little about Great Drams

Both: We are a family business based in Poynton. Bringing great quality, limited edition whiskies and whiskeys to our customers, all at a fair price. We have won more than 45 awards for our whiskies and business, with one of our award wins being in the most prestigious global whisky competition describing our whisky as being ‘amongst the finest products in the world’. We launched it with the aim to make great whisky more approachable and available. We are experts in finding incredible tasting rare casks of whisky.

First dish/drink you learned to cook/make?

Greg: Well, I cannot cook for anything… OVER TO YOU Kirst, but drink-wise it would have to be an Old Fashioned. I remember going through our whisky collection trying different releases to get the balance right. It’s something I still love to make.

Kirsty: It has to be the traditional Sunday Roast, I remember helping mum peel potatoes and carrots, working out all the timings for each element and then sitting down around the table. It’s something I do with our boys now, Archie, six and Harry, three. They both know how to make the best Yorkshire puddings.

Most vivid childhood food memory?

Greg: There are quite a few that trigger memories such as my mum’s lasagnes at home, crepes when skiing in the Alps, four bird Christmas carveries at Harrods when my father was alive… or trying all the local food when we were on holiday around the world seeing America, Africa, Europe - I’ve always loved exploring food and trying things you cannot get back at home.

Kirsty: I had a different upbringing to Greg! Being brought up in an Irish household my food memories are around sharing. Whenever a family came through the door, whatever meal mum had made was made to stretch – everyone was welcome. I loved that feeling of having a busy and welcoming house and food was always at the centre of that. We are a strong family of feeders!

Most memorable meal out?

Both: The River Café in New York. The ambience, the views and of course the food and drink.

Favourite ingredient?

Greg: Whisky.

Kirsty: Salt – can’t be without it.

Your go-to snack?

Greg: Some sort of biltong or Tony’s Chocolate bar… the salted caramel one especially.

Kirsty: Popcorn – quick and easy. We have such a busy lifestyle; it has to be something I can grab.

If you weren't running Great Drams, what would you be doing?

Greg: Kirsty will laugh at this, but I’ve recently been asked to manage our eldest’s Under 7’s football team and I love it. I’m really getting into the coaching and hoping to help the team win some matches in their first season. But I’m being mocked for my use of a magnetic tactics board and occasional comments about getting a big sheepskin coat for when I’m in the dugout.

Kirsty: I think I’d still be in marketing, although working for ourselves is brilliant and provides us with so many benefits. I did love the hustle and bustle of a busy marketing team – so many different personalities and talents to work with.

Great British Life: Christmas tipples Photo: David PearceChristmas tipples Photo: David Pearce

What are your guilty food pleasures?

Greg: It is definitely a Bun & Bones burger and boneless buffalo wings deliveries from their restaurant in Hazel Grove – man alive I might have to order one now you’ve got me thinking about it. So indulgent and incredible flavour.

A place you love to eat/drink?

Both: We’d love to be out and about eating more but since we moved to Cheshire and had our children it’s been difficult! But we love Hawksmoor and Zumuku sushi in Wilmslow. We tend to eat out more during the day when we are out at events selling our whisky. The local food and drink festivals/markets always have such a great selection of food traders from woodfired pizzas to dumplings and of course all the brownies!

For drinks with friends, we love our locals here in Poynton as they are calm, have great drinks selections and are true community hubs.

A career highlight?

Both: The very first Double Gold we received for our Benrinnes PX Single Malt in 2021, it was unexpected and was almost emotional in how it felt like we had arrived in the whisky industry to be recognised with the highest award in the most prestigious competition in the world for spirits. Sure, we received the same award for a different whisky the next year, and named World’s Best Islay Single Malt that year too but the first one was incredible.

What's next?

Both: We are already in full planning mode for our 2024 releases, some pretty special whiskies coming out both in the UK and in our export markets which we are very much looking forward to seeing out in the wild.

Our favourite drink

‘We are very much whisky or red wine people,’ says Kirsty and Greg. ‘But mostly whisky and our favourite in home drink when relaxing of an evening is what we lovingly refer to as Kilt & Lilt – a heavy sherry cask matured or wine cask matured whisky like our Christmas Cawdor Springs in a rocks glass topped up with Lilt (or the equivalent tropical soft drink) in a four parts soft drink to two parts whisky over ice.

What does Christmas mean for you?

We’re so lucky to have our two boys who are obviously Christmas mad, the countdown starts as soon as summer holidays are over. We love Christmas Eve; we go to our local in the village for a few drinks with friends then home for the boys to open their Christmas Eve boxes – new pyjamas and reindeer food included. We will have cooked a ham and some party food whilst enjoying the last bit of calm!

Christmas morning we get up and do all presents immediately then get the fire on, bottle of champagne open and sausage sandwiches for breakfast the four of us. Later, more family come over for dinner. Dessert is very important as it’s homemade Christmas pudding where the fruit has been soaked in our Christmas Whisky release. The cheese board is another highlight as we open the most special bottle of whisky we have and share around with the cheese. Boxing Day involves a trip to Anfield for the football then the day after drive to Dorset for a few days where we do it all again with more family.

 



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