Neil A Glasgow — A Solid Lifetime Performance
Bar NoneThursday, October 22, 2020
with Debbian Spence-Minott
As we continue with our celebration of the astute and outstanding men in the business of wines and spirits, this week we celebrate Neil A Glasgow, chief executive officer of National Rums of Jamaica Limited. Glasgow's experience spans 46 years across the business of beers, wines and spirits.
Chapter 1: How it all began
Having completed his tertiary studies in 1974, Glasgow joined the quality assurance team of the Red Stripe company, known then as Desnoes & Geddes Limited (D&G). While at D&G, Glasgow was influenced by some of the finest minds at the time in plant operations, engineering, and management. Glasgow identified these persons as: Paul Geddes, Peter Desnoes, O K Melhado, Anthony Kelly, Paul Stockhausen, and Noel DaCosta. In 1975, Glasgow would get his baptism in production management in a unionised environment as he was asked to manage a small plant on the D&G compound. This plant produced the crowns/closures for the D&G soft drinks line. By 1977, a larger plant was assigned to Glasgow as he was tasked to manage the operations of the D&G soft drinks in glass bottle. It was in 1979, however, that Glasgow's real break came. D&G provided Glasgow the opportunity to attend brewing school in Chicago to pursue a diploma in brewing technology and upon acing this programme, returned to the company in 1980. Shortly thereafter, Glasgow was promoted to Head Brewer — a position he would hold over the next 20 years! As Head Brewer, Glasgow was heavily involved in the production of Red Stripe, Red Stripe Light, Guinness, Heineken, McEwans, D&G Malta and D&G Shandy. Glasgow described this period as a powerful experience that was so pivotal in developing him into the man he is today. In 2000, Glasgow departed the Red Stripe company as master brewer and vice-president of operations.
Chapter 2: A new opportunity
The second major chapter of Glasgow's career would occur in 2001, when he joined J Wray & Nephew Ltd. Anthony Bell, a director of the then Wray & Nephew, offered Glasgow a position as head of the production division. His major task was to transition from beer to rum. Although challenging, Glasgow was excited as there were many similarities in fermentation between beer and rum production. He would gain new knowledge in the distillation of spirits. Over the next eight to 10 years, Glasgow developed great peer and management relationships and prepared for the next chapter in his journey.
Chapter 3: A continued journey in rum
In 2010, Glasgow joined National Rums of Jamaica Limited (NRJ) as head of production. Glasgow was excited at the prospects as he would share and transfer all his knowledge gained thus far. Glasgow recounts, “When I arrived at NRJ, I was surprised to learn of its significant capacity in making rum! “I had an excellent production team that embraced me and the new learnings shared, and also shared their know-how. As a result, we were able to do great work and even deliver greater results over the years. NRJ produced and delivered bulk rums to the United Kingdom and Canada. Our spirits end up in some of the biggest brands on the market today, such as Captain Morgan and Myers Rum.” In 2020, Glasgow was appointed CEO of NRJ.
Chapter 4: Greatest career accomplishments
Glasgow recounts his greatest career accomplishments as follows:
• Led the team that developed Red Stripe Light in 2000 – Glasgow remembers the challenges but also the rewards. The issue faced then was how to protect the beer from sunlight. The solution was to bottle the beer in a flint or clear bottle and use a specific hop variety that was resistant to sunlight. The result was a nice 'hoppy' beer without being light struck – Red Stripe Light!
• At the time of joining NRJ, the company had just completed an EU plant restoration project, which included the restoration of a new column still, pot still, power turbine and fermenting vessels. Together with the excellent team at Clarendon distillers (one of three distilleries owned by NRJ), we were able to integrate all these factors of production into a smooth operation at the highest levels of efficiency and conversions.
• NRJ also owns the 250 year-old Long Pond Distillery; these LPD rum marques are highly demanded globally. Production plans were severely interrupted with the fire that destroyed the heavy wash vat house of the distillery, removing the ability to make heavy rums. Since then, Glasgow shared that he was pleased to have worked with the team to rebuild the vat house of the Long Pond Distillery and now a beautiful, modern structure with elements of its original elegant architectural characteristics remain. The new vat house goes into full production December 2020 and our management, employees and customers are very pleased as the distillery rises once more.
• Developing strong teams – Glasgow shared the satisfaction felt as he continues to motivate his teams towards excellence, achieving their full potential, and building trust as people relationships are developed and nurtured.
Chapter 5 – What's next for Neil Glasgow?
Glasgow beamed as he shared that he is the father of two beautiful daughters who have blessed his wife of 45 years, Sandra, and himself with two grandchildren. Today, he continues to enjoy the fruits of his labour and thanks his wife for being an extraordinary woman who has supported him in all his endeavours.
Readers' Grapevine Club: If you are new to wines and want to join us on our wine discovery, then this is for you. On the third Thursday of each month, I will highlight your feedback on our grape variety/vine of the month. For November, we welcome the chilled atmosphere associated with Eiswein or Icewine. After all, if we were in wine country, we would be looking forward to welcoming winter.
Extraordinary wonder and joy are interwoven through ordinary life; seek them relentlessly. Please share with me your wine, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at email@example.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.
An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association
CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines
President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited
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