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Lead Distiller Residency- New Distillery in Rwanda


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Posting on behalf of one of my Clients - contact info at the bottom.

Thank you!


Job Description:  Lead Distiller Residency


Location: Virunga Mountain Spirits, Musanze, Rwanda


Scope/Role: A new craft distillery/agro-tourism site will open in Musanze, Rwanda in January 2024. The first product will be a premium craft potato vodka made with unloved potatoes sourced from local farmer cooperatives at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains. We are looking for an experienced Lead Distiller to undertake a six month to one year residency in Musanze to set up and run distillery operations and, at the same time,  provide hands-on training and support to a new Rwandan operations and production team, including a future lead distiller. 


The Lead Distiller will initially head up distillery operations (mashing, fermentation, distillation, QA and packaging) and then migrate to more of a training, mentoring and support role, as the Rwandan team gains knowledge and expertise. This capacity building should be sufficient to allow the Rwandan distiller and production team to assume full ownership of operations once the residency is complete. The Lead Distiller will have the capability and flexibility to run each piece of equipment at the facility, including fermentation equipment, distillation, QA, packaging and support equipment.



  • Monitor manual and automated equipment systems using gauges, indicators, screens and controls. 

  • Operate raw material handling, preparation, fermentation, distillation hybrid still, distillation column still, dephlegmator, condenser, byproducts, blending and bottling activities. 

  • Operate utility systems, including the boiler, chillers, air compressor, water filtration unit, etc. 

  • Inspect and clean the equipment systems.

  • Maintain good housekeeping practices, ensure equipment is clean and areas are organized at all times according to established business processes. 

  • Conduct maintenance and sanitation on all systems. 

  • Perform lab procedures for product analysis, sugar/starch concentration, shelf life testing, obscuration, water, and alcohol. 

  • Create, follow and maintain all SOPs. 

  • Follow all health and safety protocols and Rwandan Food and Drug Authority requirements.

  • Understand process flows and equipment (pumps, agitators, valves, instruments, etc).  

  • Perform normal and emergency startup/shutdown of all equipment. 

  • Define and perform preventative maintenance programs.

  • Operate gauging tanks and bottling line operations. 

  • Ensure that all data is input into compliance, quality assurance and order tracking systems.

  • Establish and enforce safe manufacturing practices.

  • Establish safety protocols throughout the production facility.

  • Train the Rwandan team, and in particular the Rwandan Lead Distiller, to perform all of the responsibilities listed above.



  • Previous work as a lead distiller.

  • Chemistry and/or chemical engineering educational background.

  • An outstanding work record, including job performance, safety, and attendance. 

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills. 

  • Demonstrated mathematical (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and computer skills. 

  • Willingness to adhere to VMS business standards of safety, quality, and efficiency. 

  • Problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. 

  • Cultural competence: experience working with people outside of your home country.

  • Ability to lead and train others, and create a work environment focused on continuous improvement.

  • Holiday and weekend work may be required. 


To apply for this opportunity, please send a CV and cover note to: karensherman@virungamountainspirits.com

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